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Chromecast local media streaming quality

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kordi666
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Default Chromecast local media streaming quality

Hi,

My Chromecast arrived yesterday. I bought it in hopes of playing local media mainly. Due to the fact that at home I use 3G+ internet connection with a limited GB package I cannot use cloud based services to stream media to Chromecast online - i.e. Plex. I am limited to solutions that would stream media directly to it - i.e. Allcast and Chrome Add on.

Unfortunately I tried Allcast and Chrome extension and the media quality is not satisfying. The movies are not fluent. I even set up a WIFI repeater near my TV (50 cm from Chromecast) to increase WIFI signal. I live in a flat with many wifi networks around me - this might be part of the problem - but still things did not get better even when my router and phone were 10 cm from each other.

1. I wanted to ask about your experience with streaming locally to cast? What media quality do you have? Maybe I am doing something wrong....
2. Is there any way to increase signal quality?
3. Which player works best with this kind of connection - In the FAQ there were some mentioned but no comments on the stream quality....
4. Also I read somewhere that one of the way to increase WIFI file transfer speed is to set up router and device into something that is called dual band - will this work for Chromecast? (I am not sure if CC supports it)
5. In one month I will probably switch my internet to fixed line. Is 20 Mbps enough to stream and transcode on the fly?
 
bhiga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kordi666 View Post
Hi,

My Chromecast arrived yesterday. I bought it in hopes of playing local media mainly. Due to the fact that at home I use 3G+ internet connection with a limited GB package I cannot use cloud based services to stream media to Chromecast online - i.e. Plex. I am limited to solutions that would stream media directly to it - i.e. Allcast and Chrome Add on.

Unfortunately I tried Allcast and Chrome extension and the media quality is not satisfying. The movies are not fluent. I even set up a WIFI repeater near my TV (50 cm from Chromecast) to increase WIFI signal. I live in a flat with many wifi networks around me - this might be part of the problem - but still things did not get better even when my router and phone were 10 cm from each other.

1. I wanted to ask about your experience with streaming locally to cast? What media quality do you have? Maybe I am doing something wrong....
2. Is there any way to increase signal quality?
3. Which player works best with this kind of connection - In the FAQ there were some mentioned but no comments on the stream quality....
4. Also I read somewhere that one of the way to increase WIFI file transfer speed is to set up router and device into something that is called dual band - will this work for Chromecast? (I am not sure if CC supports it)
5. In one month I will probably switch my internet to fixed line. Is 20 Mbps enough to stream and transcode on the fly?
Plex is generally not Internet/cloud-based, unless you're pulling channels. Local media files live on your local Plex Media Server and stay within your network.
  1. Cast playback quality depends both on the WiFi signal quality at Chromecast and the casting device as well as the media itself. The higher the bitrate of the file, the less likely you are to have smooth performance. In particular, 1080p videos shot on phones tend to be problematic. 720p videos are usually lower bitrate and work better.
  2. Move Chromecast away from your TV. The TV is a giant metal reflector/scrambler, so at least get Chromecast to position where the TV is not obstructing line-of-sight with your router/repeater.
    Use the HDMI extender or an HDMI extension cable. My main Chromecast is attached to a 10-foot extension cable that puts it about a foot to the side of my TV.
    Depending on your setup, it might be better to connect Chromecast to your AV receiver instead of directly to the TV.
    If your AV components are in a metal shelf or cabinet, definitely move Chromecast so it is outside of the cabinet.
  3. While the media itself doesn't change (unless you use a server that transcodes, like Plex, BubbleUPnP Server or Serviio), some players seem to do a better job with buffering. Buffering delays the start of playback and playback response, but can help to reduce pausing during playback.
  4. A (simultaneous) dual-band router can help by reducing the amount of wireless traffic on the 2.4 GHz band. When sending media from a wireless device, the wireless device is using some bandwidth to send the media, then the Chromecast has to use an equal amount of bandwidth to receive the media, which means you're actually using double the wireless bandwidth.
    While Chromecast may be fine getting a 4 Mbps stream directly from YouTube, sending a 4 Mbps stream from your phone on wireless will require 8 Mbps of stable wireless bandwidth.
    See WiFi Bandwidth and Router considerations for illustrations and more explanation.
    So, back to dual-band... The ideal situation is to have your source media device on a wired connection, but if you cannot do that, if you can have your source device on a 5 GHz connection, that will also remove congestion from the 2.4 GHz band.
    Note that despite the marketing allusions, a dual-band router will not necessarily give you faster performance.
    You get better performance because the router hardware itself tends to be faster*, the load on each wireless band is reduced if you can spread devices across bands, and the 5 GHz band generally has less interference from other devices (microwave ovens operate in 2.4 GHz, for example).
    * Often times lower-end routers cannot achieve advertised/theoretical speeds because their on-board processing is too slow - this is especially true for routers that have only 100 Mbps LAN ports rather than Gigabit LAN ports.
  5. 20 Mbps is more than enough for any online streaming source that I can think of. Transcoding is an entirely different and unrelated thing.
    Any transcoding will have a target encoded bitrate and that rate will almost always be 20 Mbps or less, especially if it will be sent through the Internet.
    Transcoding is CPU-dependent, so it will depend on the machine doing the transcoding as well as the format of your existing media files. If you use a cloud-based service like RealPlayer Cloud, you upload your media and their servers do the transcoding for you, so you really don't have to worry about the transcoding aspect.
    If you set up a Plex Media Server or a transcoding DLNA server (BubbleUPnP Server, Serviio, etc) then you will need to see if the machine you are running the server on has sufficient performance for your media formats and expectations.
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Asphyx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kordi666 View Post
Hi,

My Chromecast arrived yesterday. I bought it in hopes of playing local media mainly. Due to the fact that at home I use 3G+ internet connection with a limited GB package I cannot use cloud based services to stream media to Chromecast online - i.e. Plex. I am limited to solutions that would stream media directly to it - i.e. Allcast and Chrome Add on.
Plex doesn't use the Internet to stream media unless your not on the same network as the server. The CCast must have Internet to load the player app but that is true for all apps that cast to the CCast.

If your not on your local network and try to stream from the server then it will use Internet so you should sync titles to the local unit for playback when your not connected to a free WiFi.

To answer your other questions

1 - My experience is great. Other than Googlecast ext crashing randomly to mess up Web based streaming I seem to have avoided the problems most people have had regarding CCast but mostly due to the fact I use Plex and have Plex Pass (no longer required). My media library is almost all CCast compatible MP4/H.264/AAC 4-6Mbs. I have started to move away from the MP4 container recently and starting to save Library in MKV/H.264/AAC to get the Multitrack support for things like Subs and Commentary tracks. Plex now has some support for MKV.
2 - You can try moving things to get a better reception and use the extension plug that comes with the CCast, But in the end if reception is bad the best option is to add an AP Range Extender in the room that has the problem.
3 - Different Players for Different situations. If you have Plex Server obviously Plex for Android is the best choice. If you have content on the device then aVia or Allcast are probably better. If you have other Media Servers or many, BubbleUPnP is a wonderful option to aggregate and integrate all your media and get transcode. I run it along side Plex on my media server and it does a hell of a job!
4 - Dual band can work but only if your 2.4Ghz band is very crowded with 5Ghz devices connecting to it. Then if you make two separate networks with each band you can remove some devices from ever connecting to the 2.4Ghz network leaving all of it's available bandwidth for streaming. It can work but the best way to go is to use a transcoding server like Plex or Bubble.
5 - Is that 20 MB up or down? Lots of places advertise 20MBs but thats just the download rate and the upload rate is more like 700k. It is highly doubtful you are going to get a 20MB Upstream from any provider other than maybe Verizon FIOS or Google (limited markets but soon expanding). 4-6 MBs Upstream is probably required to get HD without a major noticeable quality loss. But that upstream limitation really only applies when your not on your local network. and when that is the case your remote access is probably more limited than your upstream especially if you are on Mobile Data.
 
kordi666
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(Last edited by kordi666; 18th March 2014 at 08:16 PM.)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhiga View Post
Plex is generally not Internet/cloud-based, unless you're pulling channels. Local media files live on your local Plex Media Server and stay within your network.
  1. Cast playback quality depends both on the WiFi signal quality at Chromecast and the casting device as well as the media itself. The higher the bitrate of the file, the less likely you are to have smooth performance. In particular, 1080p videos shot on phones tend to be problematic. 720p videos are usually lower bitrate and work better.
  2. Move Chromecast away from your TV. The TV is a giant metal reflector/scrambler, so at least get Chromecast to position where the TV is not obstructing line-of-sight with your router/repeater.
    Use the HDMI extender or an HDMI extension cable. My main Chromecast is attached to a 10-foot extension cable that puts it about a foot to the side of my TV.
    Depending on your setup, it might be better to connect Chromecast to your AV receiver instead of directly to the TV.
    If your AV components are in a metal shelf or cabinet, definitely move Chromecast so it is outside of the cabinet.
  3. While the media itself doesn't change (unless you use a server that transcodes, like Plex, BubbleUPnP Server or Serviio), some players seem to do a better job with buffering. Buffering delays the start of playback and playback response, but can help to reduce pausing during playback.
  4. A (simultaneous) dual-band router can help by reducing the amount of wireless traffic on the 2.4 GHz band. When sending media from a wireless device, the wireless device is using some bandwidth to send the media, then the Chromecast has to use an equal amount of bandwidth to receive the media, which means you're actually using double the wireless bandwidth.
    While Chromecast may be fine getting a 4 Mbps stream directly from YouTube, sending a 4 Mbps stream from your phone on wireless will require 8 Mbps of stable wireless bandwidth.
    See WiFi Bandwidth and Router considerations for illustrations and more explanation.
    So, back to dual-band... The ideal situation is to have your source media device on a wired connection, but if you cannot do that, if you can have your source device on a 5 GHz connection, that will also remove congestion from the 2.4 GHz band.
    Note that despite the marketing allusions, a dual-band router will not necessarily give you faster performance.
    You get better performance because the router hardware itself tends to be faster*, the load on each wireless band is reduced if you can spread devices across bands, and the 5 GHz band generally has less interference from other devices (microwave ovens operate in 2.4 GHz, for example).
    * Often times lower-end routers cannot achieve advertised/theoretical speeds because their on-board processing is too slow - this is especially true for routers that have only 100 Mbps LAN ports rather than Gigabit LAN ports.
  5. 20 Mbps is more than enough for any online streaming source that I can think of. Transcoding is an entirely different and unrelated thing.
    Any transcoding will have a target encoded bitrate and that rate will almost always be 20 Mbps or less, especially if it will be sent through the Internet.
    Transcoding is CPU-dependent, so it will depend on the machine doing the transcoding as well as the format of your existing media files. If you use a cloud-based service like RealPlayer Cloud, you upload your media and their servers do the transcoding for you, so you really don't have to worry about the transcoding aspect.
    If you set up a Plex Media Server or a transcoding DLNA server (BubbleUPnP Server, Serviio, etc) then you will need to see if the machine you are running the server on has sufficient performance for your media formats and expectations.

Many, many thanks. Did not expect that detailed anwser. Especially the fragments about dual band and HDMI extension are very useful. Should be inlcuded in FAQ, as I believe they are only in the separate post you gave link to.

I believe I start to get a grasp of all of this. My problem is that my internet connection is via Huawei e587 wireless router. This is a pocket sized device that was created to be 3G modem with router functionality and not as stand alone router. It does not support dual band.
I tried going through AP extension (Winstars WN523N2) but with the same result. My AP extension does not support Dual Band either and when I connect chrome thorugh the extension not only my extension has to serve incoming and outgoing stream but also has to connect itself to my wireless router.

However, there is still one thing that I don't quite understand and this is about Plex. Yesterday I spent like 30 mins on youtube and forums trying to figure out what plex is and I couldn't figure out how it works. From what I understand from your post Plex is set on my local computer and streams to Chromecast via my Wifi. The difference is, that transcodes the file in real time allowing to get a stream with less bitrate to be handled by your router more easly? Is this correct?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Asphyx View Post
5 - Is that 20 MB up or down? Lots of places advertise 20MBs but thats just the download rate and the upload rate is more like 700k. It is highly doubtful you are going to get a 20MB Upstream from any provider other than maybe Verizon FIOS or Google (limited markets but soon expanding). 4-6 MBs Upstream is probably required to get HD without a major noticeable quality loss. But that upstream limitation really only applies when your not on your local network. and when that is the case your remote access is probably more limited than your upstream especially if you are on Mobile Data.

Many thanks to you as well. Other points I believe I covered. This one, however, you are perfectly right. This is 20 Mbps download but only 1 Mbps upload which probably will not be enough for streaming.... I have to solve problem in some other way or change CC to something else (unfortunately).

P.S.
I am not in US . So I have other cable options available.
 
Asphyx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kordi666 View Post
Many, many thanks. Did not expect that detailed anwser. Especially the fragments about dual band and HDMI extension are very useful. Should be inlcuded in FAQ, as I believe they are only in the separate post you gave link to.

I believe I start to get a grasp of all of this. My problem is that my internet connection is via Huawei e587 wireless router. This is a pocket sized device that was created to be 3G modem with router functionality and not as stand alone router. It does not support dual band.
I tried going through AP extension (Winstars WN523N2) but with the same result. My AP extension does not support Dual Band either and when I connect chrome thorugh the extension not only my extension has to serve incoming and outgoing stream but also has to connect itself to my wireless router.

However, there is still one thing that I don't quite understand and this is about Plex. Yesterday I spent like 30 mins on youtube and forums trying to figure out what plex is and I couldn't figure out how it works. From what I understand from your post Plex is set on my local computer and streams to Chromecast via my Wifi. The difference is, that transcodes the file in real time allowing to get a stream with less bitrate to be handled by your router more easly? Is this correct?

Many thanks to you as well. Other points I believe I covered. This one, however, you are perfectly right. This is 20 Mbps download but only 1 Mbps upload which probably will not be enough for streaming.... I have to solve problem in some other way or change CC to something else (unfortunately).

P.S.
I am not in US . So I have other cable options available.
It won't matter what device you use the results will be the same without the bandwidth to send it to you...

Plex is a Media Server software plain and simple...
But it is a server that can transcode the file to be compatible with any network conditions and hardware.
Not every piece of hardware can play MKV files. But with Plex it will transcode (convert on the fly) the media into a format that is compatible and is streamable based on your network conditions.

CCast doesn't support a wide variety of formats. Plex will send them to CCast so they CAN be played.
If your at home then no internet will be used to make those streams...
If your away from Home Plex will be able to make your media available wherever you are but you will need internet access where you are to get it and I don't suggest using Metered mobile data to do that!

Plex will also SYNC content to your device so you don't have to have your server send it to you when your not local to it.

So in the end I don't think it really matters what device or connection your using Plex has a solution that will work for your hardware and network situation.

I will note that BubbleUPnP will do much the same thing as well, but it does require some UPnP or DLNA source to take it's media from.
Which is essentially what Plex is...
 
bhiga
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@Asphyx described Plex. I wouldn't worry about dual-band just yet...

The key will be the bitrate of your media. Lower-bitrate stuff is easier for the network and the sending device* to handle.
* just like your router, the sending tablet/phone's hardware may limit how fast it can communicate.

Start your testing with a low-bitrate MP4 (4 Mbps or lower) and see if that works better for you.

Quick estimate of bitrate is:
Filesize (in MegaBytes) * 8 / length of video in seconds

For example, if a 2-minute video is 50 MB, then it's
50 MB * 8 bits/byte / 120 seconds = 400 Mbits / 120 seconds = 3.33 Mbits/second
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kordi666
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhiga View Post
@Asphyx described Plex. I wouldn't worry about dual-band just yet...

The key will be the bitrate of your media. Lower-bitrate stuff is easier for the network and the sending device* to handle.
* just like your router, the sending tablet/phone's hardware may limit how fast it can communicate.

Start your testing with a low-bitrate MP4 (4 Mbps or lower) and see if that works better for you.

Quick estimate of bitrate is:
Filesize (in MegaBytes) * 8 / length of video in seconds

For example, if a 2-minute video is 50 MB, then it's
50 MB * 8 bits/byte / 120 seconds = 400 Mbits / 120 seconds = 3.33 Mbits/second
OK. Thanks guys I believe I get it. It also appeared that I solved the puzzle. I streamed files that were of too high quality for wifi chromecast to handle (1920x1020). Now I tried with lower resulution and it worked without a problem.

I believe I understand now what plex does. I will try it out. One question though. Will plex handle RMVB? I have most media in this format and I know it is not the most popular one....
 
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Hope you guys can indulge me by resurrecting this thread. I was intending to replace my AppleTV with the Chromecast, but now I'm not so sure after reading a few things here.

What exactly are the limitations of the Chromecast video spec in terms of bandwidth and h.264 complexity? At the moment I run PlexConnect via the "trailers" app on the AppleTV, and no transcodes (yeah!) are required by Plex for local MKV media on an ethernet-connected PC. Would I need to be concerned with Chromecast to be able to decode these MKVs, which I'm sure exceed 6 Mbps. Is that bitrate an upper limit for the Chromecast? In other words, if there is a 6 Mbps limit on these encodes, then it sounds like Plex would need to transcode. Is that the case?
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Asphyx
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Originally Posted by floepie View Post
Hope you guys can indulge me by resurrecting this thread. I was intending to replace my AppleTV with the Chromecast, but now I'm not so sure after reading a few things here.

What exactly are the limitations of the Chromecast video spec in terms of bandwidth and h.264 complexity? At the moment I run PlexConnect via the "trailers" app on the AppleTV, and no transcodes (yeah!) are required by Plex for local MKV media on an ethernet-connected PC. Would I need to be concerned with Chromecast to be able to decode these MKVs, which I'm sure exceed 6 Mbps. Is that bitrate an upper limit for the Chromecast? In other words, if there is a 6 Mbps limit on these encodes, then it sounds like Plex would need to transcode. Is that the case?
The bandwidth limitations are really more influenced by your Network and the 2.4 Ghz Band of the CCast. I have seen people say they have gotten a 20Mbps File to play cleanly on a Chromecast but I would be conservative and say 10Mbps is the top rate.

Plex should handle any Codec and container limitations of the CCast but it will require you have a good transcoding machine to run Plex Media Server on.

I have to ask why if you have Apple TV would you want to replace it with CCast? What do you expect to gain from that switch?
The ATV is probably (mind you, I have no experience with AppleTV so pardon me if I'm wrong on any of this) more versatile in what it can play and doesn't require App support or another device to control it. I believe it also has a wired connection to network which is far superior to Wireless.

Don't get me wrong here I love my CCast, but I don't have any other wired Media boxes or Smart TVs that would do a better job. I do have HTPCs, my main one being souped up and used as a Media/Transcoding Server running both Plex and BubbleUPnP. So on those TVs that have HTPC attached I do not use a CCast.

For the price it sure can't hurt to get a CCast just for the play around cool factor but for that price don't expect the same kind of experience or performance of a box that costs in excess of $50-$100.

If you have an AppleTV or Roku already I would tell you to wait and see if a second Gen CCast is released soon that will improve on the few shortcomings like no wired networking because your not really going to gain much with the current model other than the cool faxtor of flinging media and maybe soon the ability to Mirror your screen.

---------- Post added at 05:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:43 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by kordi666 View Post
One question though. Will plex handle RMVB? I have most media in this format and I know it is not the most popular one....
I do not think it supports RMVB....
And these days you are much better off keeping your library in MKV/H.264 L4.1+/AAC format for the internal Multi Track and Subtitle support.
Makes for a tidy library file system (as one file holds it all) and is pretty much compatible with any hardware out there because they all pretty much support H.264 via Hardware.

Not all devices support the MKV container but they should at some point because it really is the best container that exists due to it's multitrack and any codec goes capability.
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Originally Posted by floepie View Post
Hope you guys can indulge me by resurrecting this thread. I was intending to replace my AppleTV with the Chromecast, but now I'm not so sure after reading a few things here.
TBH I agree with @Asphyx. I don't think Chromecast would be a good replacement for your AppleTV, unless there's a specific app/service on Chromecast that AppleTV doesn't have, or you really are not using your AppleTV much.
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