Thursday, February 10, 2011

Orb 2.0

orb, a streaming media application, will be our first review here.  It is available here http://www.orb.com/
It gained popularity in our circles by being iPhone compatible.  The odd thing was that you had to install it on a PC.  There is no MAC OS version at time of this review.
The app is a free/small 15mb download and a quick install.  During the install you are prompted to create a login.  The application is the only way to create a login as this service is not provided on their site.  When the product is installed you can configure which folders are shared.  Then you can create new users and control which folders they can access.  Each user can also customize their home page to contains RSS feeds, Weather, news, recently added music, photos, documents and videos.  We have tried it behind two firewalls (Linksys & Sonicwall) as well as on Windows XP, Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Home Basic with much success at environment.
Features we loved:
  1. Streaming Audio, we were exposed to new online radio stations for streaming audio.
  2. Divx, AVI, WMV, MPG, MP3 - whatever we could throw at it - it streamed.
  3. One network - multiple pcs - multiple logins.  The LazyJeff network has quite a few systems and we were able to run & access orb on two at the same time using different logins.
  4. Program guide - wow - this app streams channels - not shows.  WebGuide, an app for Windows Vista Media Center users, ends the stream at the end of a 30min show.  Orb just keeps streaming that channel till you tell it to stop.
Features still lacking:
  1. Sometimes in the middle of a stream, it will leap back to the beginning or somewhere between the beginning and where you were.  One 30min stream actually went on for 90min as it continued to skip back.
  2. WebCams - we tried one a few systems and couldn’t reliably get the webcam feature to function.
Our notes:
  1. Change the Upstream speed - we got much better results on a 2mb pipe dropping the upstream rate to 600k.  This was not so much an issue with our connection, but the connection to which you are streaming.
  2. Create logins for your friends and change their security to only see their folder.  every one plays better when they have their own playground
  3. Always use hauppauge hardware encoder cards - they use little or no processing power while recording standard analog channels.  Less than 15% to record 4 shows at once using two MCE500 cards.