Today Livestream.com announced they will be shipping a high definition streaming media appliance by the end of May. For under $500. This is a preliminary review of the announced product and a cursory review of the new Livestream CDN to which it is tied.
Here are the highlights:
- Can run off of 3 AA batteries
- USB input for aircards
- Tied to the “New” Livestream
- Can’t be used with Livestream free or Premium
- Inputs 1080i sources over HDMI
- Lack HD-SDI support
- 1/8″ analog audio in
- 4.1 Profile H.264 Streaming up to 2.3Mbps
- AAC Audio encoding
- Limited to a single stream/bitrate
- Cloud transcoding to be offered in the future
- New Livestream currently does not support mobile devices
- Embedding of stream not possible
- Remote controllable via iOS device
- 1/4″-20 tripod mount
- camera hotshoe mountable
- Small form factor
The new Livestream has some really innovative features – among my favorites is the ability to edit a live video that has been recorded in the cloud. Sometimes you simply want to snip heads and tails off of a stream to make it publishable, and the new Livestream does it with aplomb. On the downside, it is disappointing that the new Livestream does not support streaming to mobile devices. In this day and age that seems like heresy, but it’s true. I imagine it is an option that will be offered some time in the future. I’m uncertain whether its a technical limitation or a marketing limitation. My guess is it’s a marketing limitation, like the inability to embed streams from the new Livestream onto other pages like you can with the free ad supported Livestream or Livestream Premium.
The social infrastructure of the new Livestream is solid though. You can post pictures and comments accompanying the stream in real time. The interface will likely have to evolve, because most people streaming live will likely want their expensive and highly produced live video to be front-and-center.
The most attractive feature of the new Livestream is the ability to stream an unlimited amount of live video for only $45/month. Wow. And here’s where Broadcaster comes in.
To match the low price point of the new Livestream, the New York based company has manufactured their own streaming media encoder. Prior offerings have been essentially build-to-order consumer PCs with Blackmagic design video interfaces with their ProCaster software pre-loaded. Livestream also has a marketing agreement with San Antonio based NewTek Inc. to resell the TriCaster series of switcher/encoders. The Livestream Broadcaster is cable of a high definition stream up to 720p from a HD source connected by HDMI in up to 1080i resolution. A converter will have to be used if you have an HD-SDI source. There are no analog video connections.
The device can run up to three hours on 3 AA batteries. In many instances, it reminds me of a bright orange Teradek Cube. The current cubes (we’ll see what NAB 2012 has to offer) require external power to function. Unlike the Cube, hover, the broadcaster is locked in to streaming only to the new Livestream content delivery network.
The Livestream Broadcaster will retail for just under $500 and includes 3 months of service on the new Livestream.com, a $135.00 value. This encoder may be just the ticket for those needed an encoder-only solution and can put up with the limitations of the new Livestream.