Slingbox + Airplay Video Quality

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by joelshooty, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. joelshooty macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2007
    I'm trying to figure out if I can improve the video quality / resolution when watching my Slingbox via Apple TV and Airplay.

    • I have a Slingbox 350 and Apple TV 3. Both are hard-wired into my home network.
    • The Slingbox is connected to my cable box via Component cables (HD).
    • I'm using the Slingplayer app on my iPhone 4S to Airplay to my Apple TV 3.
    • Airplay video quality is only so-so. Definitely doesn't look like 720p (which I've read the Slingplayer+Airplay+Apple TV setup is capable of). Video playback is smooth - no stuttering - but I wish it was higher resolution.
    • I'm using "standard / normal" Airplay, i.e. NOT mirroring, as described on the Sling website:
    Now my understanding is that with "standard" Airplay, the Apple TV is doing all the work when it comes to streaming. In other words, my iPhone 4S is not doing anything other than acting as a remote. The wifi signal strength to my iPhone 4S is irrelevant. The processing power of my iPhone 4S is irrelevant.

    Is my understanding correct? Any tips to improve video quality?

    Furthermore - if I were to buy a retina iPad and Airplay my Slingbox to my Apple TV... would that result in better video quality?
  2. joelshooty thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2007
    So I set quality to High Quality in the iPhone app and that improved the video quality somewhat. But I compared to a WD TV Live which has a built-in Slingplayer app and it's not even close. The WD TV Live wins hands down.

    So I'm wondering... Is the Apple TV going through the internet (instead of my local network) to retrieve the Slingbox stream? Can I check the internet traffic using Airport Utility? (My home network runs on an AirPort Extreme )
  3. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    The ipad/iphone app I noticed streams a much lower bit rate stream. Airplay just captures the stream coming into the ipad, which will never get a full bit rate stream. Sling probably limited the mobile bit rate for data conservation plus lower resolutions. It will never reach the quality of your wdtv or computer steaming as those clients don't limit data rate.
  4. BruiserB macrumors 68000

    Aug 9, 2008
    I noticed it looks better when I Airplay from my iPad mini than it does from my iPhone 5S. The processor in the phone should be better, but for some reason the iPad just does a better job.
  5. joelshooty thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2007
    There are separate Slingplayer apps for iPhone and iPad, so perhaps the iPad app receives a higher bitrate / resolution stream because the iPad is higher resolution than an iPhone. (And also more likely to be using WiFi.)

    This might be a tough question to answer, but is there a BIG difference between Slingbox Airplay with the iPhone vs iPad?
  6. BruiserB macrumors 68000

    Aug 9, 2008
    With my ipad on my home network, it looks like I'm watching normal HD TV. With my phone I get more digital artifacts and it's not as clear.
  7. joelshooty thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2007
    Thanks for the feedback. I don't have an iPad to test with, but maybe I'll have to pick one up to compare with the WD TV. I'm impressed with the video quality of the WD TV but I prefer the UI of the iPhone/iPad + Airplay. Changing channels on the WD TV is a pain... I much prefer using the guide in the iOS app.

    If the iPad + Airplay can come close to matching the video quality of the WD TV then I think we have a winner.

    If anyone else can comment on Slingplayer video quality, iPad+Airplay vs WD TV Live, then I'd love to hear it.
  8. BruiserB macrumors 68000

    Aug 9, 2008
    The iPad is the best quality as far as I can tell. I even tried to AirPlay from my mac to the AppleTV and I think it was the worst of all...mirroring the mac display to the AppleTV and running in a maximized window. And I have an iPad either that or an iPad 2 should work equally well. I believe the SlingPlayer app for the iPad is different from the iPhone one, so you will have to pay for a different download. Haven't tried running the phone app on my iPad to see quality.
  9. joelshooty thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2007
    Just to follow-up since I've had a chance to try SlingPlayer for iPad.

    Airplay video quality is really good. Maybe not quite as good as the WD TV Live, but pretty darn close. The UI is so much better using iPad+Airplay (vs WD TV Live) so in my opinion it's the way to go.

    My wish list from Sling:

    1. Allow background/multi-tasking during Airplay (currently switching away from the SlingPlayer app kills Airplay)

    2. Maybe some sort of "Ultra" quality mode for use on WiFi. Even on "HD" quality there is room for improvement. It looks like Sling caps the bitrate of the stream, so even if your setup is capable of higher bitrates it won't fully realize it. Maybe Sling did this for reliability purposes and also keeping data usage down, but they already have an option to cap the bitrate at 1024 kbps for people who need that feature. This problem is most prevalent when using the iPhone app - where the HD stream is not equal to the iPad HD stream.
  10. BruiserB macrumors 68000

    Aug 9, 2008
    Backgrounding is a must. I'd like to be able to otherwise use my iPad while streaming. It's a shame to tie up the iPad just to stream. Even better would be some sort of native ATV app with maybe just a companion "remote" app on your phone or iPad that would allow changing channels, access of DVR programs, etc! Actually I can do all of that now with the DirecTV app, but only the iPad version and only while at home.
  11. stiwi macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Any update on how is the quality now? I read they removed "HD" setting from iOS apps and apparently "auto" doesn't work that great.

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