nullstream weblog - Well that didn't go very well

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Well that didn't go very well


November 22, 2006 11:53 PM PST

This morning I purchased and queued up 1 HD TV show and 1 HD movie. The hope was that by the time I came home from work I would have some content to test out and report on. Well apparently MS didn't prepare properly for the bandwidth onslaught. When I came home I found my MS powered off and the TV show only at 66% (the movie download has not started yet). I kind of forgot about the 360's auto shut off feature, but still it is set to power down after 6 hours.

So I got 66% of 2Gs in around 6 hours. That works out to around 225Mb per hour. This is roughly 620.5Kbps (assuming 10bits per byte with overhead as a conservative rough estimate). Hmm, Not a very good first impression. Looks like I'm not the only one having trouble. MS even told this guy that the current issues he was having are not typical. Actually if I do the math the best I could probably do anyway would be 1G per hour at my current 3Mb bandwidth. So an HD movie would take me 6 hours to download. Assuming MS Live will eventually be able to keep up that is. It's good I'm getting more bandwidth soon.

So when I got home I quickly disabled the auto-shut off feature and restarted the downloads (it would be nice if that feature took into account the fact that you were downloading, but I digress). The system appeared to continue where I left off, but didn't really make any progress. I got some sort of error about 45 min later. I kicked it off again later on in the evening, and after a couple more hours I got a cryptic message that said "download could not be completed". This time when I restart it just seems to be stuck at 0%, so I'm guessing I won't be trying this out anytime soon.

I'm sure that this will be smoothed out eventually, but maybe they could have done some better planning? Maybe rented out a warehouse full of temporary servers? Or how about doing a staggered roll out over a couple of days to work out the kinks? Oh well, what do I know anyway? I can hear Steve Jobs laughing from here.

Comments (11)
Paul, November 23, 2006 01:23 AM:

Remember to keep detailed notes of all the crap you had to go through to watch video on demand over the years. Your grandkids just won't believe it: "You went to a store to rent movies? How could they be out of stock? What is this thing you earthmen call buffering?"

John, November 23, 2006 12:40 PM:

Update: It is 12:30 on Thanksgiving. I still do not have any content to watch. Late last night the store went down completley for a while. After that I was able to restart my HD movie. As of now (about 11 hours later), it is at around 66%. Yeah, at this rate, sometime I should have some say around noon on Saturday.

John, November 24, 2006 03:40 AM:

It is 3:20am Friday the 24th. I still don't have any content to watch. The HD movie is at about 76% and since it is in front of the TV show now, no progress has been made there. My prediction of noon on Saturday might be accurate. I know I'm not the only one having this problem, but I am surprised that the net is, for the most part, pretty quiet about it. I did find this one today on the congestion, and this one on people losing points and getting no content. Man it would suck to be a dev on that team right now. I'm sure many people didn't make it home for thanksgiving.

Paul, November 24, 2006 03:51 AM:

You know, I just don't have this problem with iTunes. They just send me an email when the next episode is ready to download, then I click "Check for purchases" under the Store menu, and stuff just downloads at a good clip. Granted, a 1 hour iTunes video, like BSG, is only ~500MB but my network connection is pretty much completely utilized when downloading. I've yet to have a download glitch.

George, November 24, 2006 07:32 AM:

It's rev 1, I'm sure Bill will get this fixed. Even though I don't have a 360, I really hope the service is successful. Competition in the online media segment will be good for us consumers. MS's offering of real HD content may push Apple to step up their offerings when the iTV box is launched.

John, November 24, 2006 01:11 PM:

Ok this morning they were both done. I'm now downloading an SD version of the same episode so that I can compare.

John, November 24, 2006 10:22 PM:

Update: I compared three versions of the same TV show and episode: 1. Itunes download, 2. Xbox SD, 3. Xbox HD. I watched scenes from each on the same monitor at the same resolution 1920x1080.

The Xbox SD version had incrementally better video than the Itunes version for the same file size (500Mb) and price ($2). This is a bit subjective of course, but sharp edges were cleaner and the overall image had less noise. The audio was not even close though, the itunes version sounded like it was recorded through a tin can. The Xbox version was rich and full and sounded very good.

The HD version (720p) of the show looks and sounds amazing. But then again, it should, it is a whopping 2G! I don't have the original HD broadcast of the show to compare it to, but I'll bet it is very close.

GW, November 29, 2006 08:45 PM:

I guess they didn't consult with their network engineers when they were in the design stages.

John, January 12, 2007 12:47 PM:

MS denies HDMI yet again
They are also denying a larger hard drive. The funny thing is at the same time they say they are very open to feedback. How can that be true when the whole 360 market is screaming for both items. In fact people were screaming for DVI/HDMI before the 360 even shipped.

Paul, January 12, 2007 12:57 PM:

Not having HDMI is silly.

Not having a bigger hard drive will be okay if they allow saving downloaded movies and shows to your PC, something like what Apple is going to do with AppleTV.

Paul, January 13, 2007 10:20 PM:

... or maybe we will have HDMI ...

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