Hands-On with the iStream iPhone application

by Alex Kuretz on April 21, 2009 · 18 comments

in Reviews

As part of the upcoming 2.5 Software Update for the EX485 and EX487 MediaSmart Servers, HP has announced the iStream application that will stream your content from your home server to your iPhone. The iStream application has just appeared in the iTunes store yet the 2.5 Software Update has not yet arrived.

iStream About window

iStream About window

HP gave me the Beta version of the 2.5 Software Update last week to test with, however I don’t have an iPhone. Fortunately my good friend “Senor Guantes” has an 8GB iPhone 3G, and we got together to try out the iStream application against my EX487 running the Beta 2.5 Software Update. Note that we were testing over wifi and not the 3G network for the majority of the testing, though we were streaming across the public internet and not over a local network. We did some follow-on tests over 3G and while load times were obviously longer the experience was still acceptable.

After installing the iStream application on the iPhone, we configured it for access by enter the TZO domain name of my server and the user name and password of the Remote Access-enabled user I had created on the server. A few seconds later the iStream application had logged into the server and was displaying the landing page which provided access to Music, Photos, and Videos.

iStream entering login info

iStream entering login info

iStream landing page

iStream landing page

We first viewed a variety of photos and music, and found the load times to be surprisingly snappy. We did notice that music will stop playing if you quit the HP application which is unlike the iPod app where music will keep playing. However, music will continue to play if the phone goes to sleep while the HP app is running.

iStream Photos

iStream Photos

iStream All Photos

iStream All Photos

iStream single photo

iStream single photo

iStream Music

iStream Music

iStream album track listing

iStream album track listing

iStream now playing

iStream now playing

We next turned to the Videos, and started off by watching the Bond movie Casino Royale which I had recently converted to mobile format using the HP Video Converter. This took about a minute to load in the iStream application, however once it began streaming the performance was excellent with no stutters or quality issues.

iStream video loading

iStream video loading

iStream Casino Royale movie

iStream Casino Royale movie

We did encounter a few strange occurrences during testing. In one case we were playing an mp3 and started Casino Royale to see what would happen. After it finished buffering, the iStream application crashed. We restarted the app and went to play Casino Royale but got an error saying the movie couldn’t be played. We tried again and this time it played successfully. Another random crash occurred while playing an MP3, but this was a one-time occurence. We are also able to cause a crash every time we try to “List All Tracks” in the music view. I’ll be reporting these items to HP, and hopefully it’s just an issue with the Beta 2.5 software.

In summary, we were quite pleased with the performance and usability of the iStream application in our initial testing against the Beta 2.5 Software, and I believe that iPhone owners will enjoy this experience when it’s released in the near future. Thanks to Senor Guantes for the assistance with testing!





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 18 comments }

t-bone April 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Dang!! I have an iPhone but the older more “Swiss Army Knife” MSS (Esata Port Multiplier). I always seem to come up a little short. Ha-ha!

Corey McLaughlin April 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm

As a MAC and an iPhone user as well as owner of a EX385, I can’t wait to test this out myself. Having a 600 GB iTunes library and another 40 GB of photo’s this would be extremely useful. On a side note I thought I read this update was coming out on April 20th but no show for me. After checking your post about this update it just states late April, do you have anymore details?

Alex Kuretz April 21, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I’ve had a request into HP for several days, asking for a specific release date, and have not yet been given any further info. I’ll be sure to post an update when I do hear.

Tom April 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Do you know if there is a way to load this on an OEM HomeServer (non HP branded)

I have a custom built Windows Home Server, and would love to get this set up. ;)

Mike April 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

What the heck!!! This doesn’t work on the iPod Touch V1.

Alex Kuretz April 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Tom, this feature is specific to the HP MediaSmart Server EX485 and EX487, and depends on additional software running on the server.

Mike, I’ve seen a couple reports of this and have a question in to HP about it, however my understanding is that this is an iPhone specific application.

Michael Schoneman April 22, 2009 at 11:52 am

Any chance it will work if you are using non-standard ports?

Alex Kuretz April 22, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Good question, and while I don’t know for sure I would have to suspect it’s unlikely to work if you’ve changed the default ports of your home server. My guess is that it’s running over https.

Michael Schoneman April 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm

That’s what I was afraid of. 80 and 443 are blocked at the ISP level. I’ve got 8080 and 8443 port mapped via my router. Most of the HP specific stuff fails, but I can get the default WHS stuff to work.

Leonard Armstrong April 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm

I have been having very erratic results with iStream. Of my 3800 songs, I’ve only fond a small handful (literally 5 of the dozens I’ve tested so far) have actually played. Those that play seem to always be able to play. Those that do not will never play. However, there is no other pattern I can find. For example, within the same ripped CD some songs will play while others do not.

Anyone else have similar problems or am I alone in this? I love the idea of this app, but have had a frustrating time of it so far.

Thanks for any information that can be provided,
– Len Armstrong

cruisso April 25, 2009 at 11:35 am

I have a huge library too, but I still haven’t been able to figure out how it works in terms of, what ports does it need open for example? My library shows up in the iphone, I was able to stream 1 video (only one showed up I am not sure why), and as leonard was pointing out… I haven’t been able to play 1 song, they all appear in there but when I hit play it just hangs in there and nothing… I guess I haven’t found my 5 working songs ;)

Leonard Armstrong April 25, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Cruisso – THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU. True, out problems have not been resolved but at least I now know I am not alone in this issue. I’m not quite sure why I find that to be comforting, but I do. :-)

P.S. – I found a couple more songs so far. :-)

cruisso April 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Glad to know that comforts you man :)

I tried again today and my server for some reason had closed the web application entirely after it came back from sleeping… weird.

I suspect my problem with the music streaming is because of my router.. I will do some tests later, disabling the firewall and perhaps temporarily putting the server on the DMZ to make sure the issue is not in the server it self…

Leonard Armstrong April 26, 2009 at 6:28 am

Please let me know if you find anything or if your experiments lead anywhere. For the record, I am using a new Airport Extreme as my router with the same ports open as are required for remote access – 80, 443, 4125. However, since I have been able to find *some* songs that play, I am doubting that opening more ports will help – but I’m open to anything. :-)

Matt April 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

Mike,

I got HP to fix it, works on v1 touch now. It was a misconfigured entry in the iTunes store, nothing in s/w.

colmob May 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Thanks Matt! – (another 1st Gen iPod Touch owner!)

Jay June 25, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Is there an Istream app for the android os?

Alex Kuretz June 28, 2010 at 8:43 am

Jay, unfortunately no, HP has not released such an Add-In for Android.

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