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Stress Test

Having completed most of my testing, I decided to see if I could push TVersity to its breaking point. I pulled out the iPad and accessed a 21 GB Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray MKV file from the TVersity's web interface and started it. I then pulled up the 25 GB Super Troopers movie on the TV. Finally, I went to my PC and pulled up the same file from TVersity's Flash web interace. I was surprised to see all three Blu-ray movies running at the same time (with the decreased resolutions mentioned above) with only a slight pause on the iPad every now and then.

TVersity has a nice status page which you can view from any computer using their web admin interface. The screenshot below is from my triple Blu-ray transcoding test. I've included the Windows 7 CPU gadgets on the side, where you can see my Intel i7 based system was working hard and core temps were climbing with all three movie streams running.

TVersity Status page
Figure 8: TVersity Status page

With just one movie going, the CPU was around 20%. One interesting note is that it appeared TVersity would suspend transcoding when it filled its buffers and then resume transcoding when needed. When transcoding to the iPad, however, it never suspended.

Internet Content

Internet video is another strength TVersity has that some other media servers don't. The transcoding of internet video seems to be greatly improved with version 2.0 and worked well. Like PlayOn, it appears that TVersity simply emulates a standard web browser to get past some of the website blocks that are thrown up for mobile devices.

I pulled up a 1080p YouTube video and accessed it via TVersity, then looked at the specs of the transcoded file. TVersity had reduced it to 864x480 for my Samsung TV and for the iPad, while my processor was again barely being touched. To be honest, that disappointed me. TVersity support said they plan to better benchmark higher-end systems to remedy this problem. I should note that PlayOn doesn't do HD either.

I had a tough time with the TVersity toolbar's Subscribe feature-- I could rarely ever get the Subscribe button to light up. The way Subscribe is supposed to recognizes a media feed on a web page and allow you to Subscribe. Subscriptions than automatically get added to TVersity.

Being used to PlayOn, I simply wanted a big catalog of all of Hulu, but when I went to the Hulu page, Subscribe would never light up. I ended up driving myself crazy trying to get Subscribe to work. I did however get lots of web pages to stream through to the TV in testing.

TVersity internet toolbar
Figure 9: TVersity internet toolbar

I liked how customizable TVersity was for Internet content when compared to PlayOn, but there is something to be said about everything being set up for you on PlayOn. Since I stream Hulu free through PlayOn, I couldn't test whether TVersity supports Season Passes in Hulu Plus.

PlayOn channel lineup
Figure 10: PlayOn channel lineup

Closing Thoughts

To answer the question, can TVersity take the place of two good media servers, the answer is not really.

For Internet content, TVersity's video quality is just as good as PlayOn, and in some cases better since PlayOn won't produce HD quality. More advanced users will like the granularity to which you can organize Internet content; less advanced users will probably like the simplicity of PlayOn's iOS app better.

PlayOn's catalog of "channels" is nice, though, and I really missed it when working with TVersity. And PlayOn and its Android app was the only media server I could get to work well on my phone. On the downside, PlayOn is a lot more expensive at $79.99 for a lifetime license vs. TVersity's $19.99.

Would I set TVersity up for my retired parents or my family for online content? No way! I'd use PlayOn. It's just more user-friendly.

When it comes to local content, TVersity does a good job, once you install the right codec pack. But it decreased resolution to a large degree and also transcoded when it wasn't necessary despite telling it not to. I was also able to get better resolutions with Mezzmo, although it also had lots of trouble transcoding 1920x1080.

In the case of my 25 GB file, Mezzmo passing it through at 1920x1080 made my Samsung TV choke, while TVersity transcoding to 1078x606 produced a seamless, albeit reduced resolution, experience. But I watched both files on the TV and my untrained eye had a hard time telling the difference.

I was pretty disappointed that the video was downscaled that much with my CPU sitting at 20% with a very fast PC. And Mezzmo allows pre-transcoding so that content can be ready to go and you won't have to worry about hiccups or loud fan noises while viewing if your media PC is in your TV room.

Going through a web interface for the iPad and not having to deal with finding a media player app that works well is a plus. The Flash player web interface and admin screen web interfaces are also very nice touches that you don't get in Mezzmo. However, Mezzmo lets you configure each of your devices on an individual basis, so your configuration can be tweaked per device, whereas TVersity does that globally.

Bottom line is I still haven't found a single media server that will do everything I'm looking for and do it well. At $19.99, TVersity 2.1 is one of the more economical transcoding UPnP/DLNA media servers available. But what you save in money, you may end up paying in sweat equity to get it running properly with your content.

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