2011 Editors' Picks for the Best in Streaming Video
We first heard about the HTML5 <video> tag in mid-2009, when Mozilla showcased Firefox 3.5 at the Open Video Conference in New York. Earlier in the year, Mozilla had granted the Wikimedia Foundation $100,000 to fund development of the Ogg container format, all in an effort to promote royalty-free, open source audio and video codecs that would become the de facto standard within the HTML5. Nothing much has come of the Ogg initiative—if you ask just about anyone, they’ll tell you Ogg is dead—but the promise of flexibility and cross-browser, cross-platform, cross-device reach remains, spurred on by Steve Jobs’ vehement (and somewhat disingenuous) dismissal of Flash and Apple’s refusal to support it on its iDevices. The bottom line is that 2010 was the year of HTML5, but with multiple codecs supported by the <video> tag, it’s sure to be at the forefront of our industry for years to come.
Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 Pro
While the Flash Media Live Encoder does a good job of encoding content for its own HTTP delivery solution, Microsoft has taken on a much bigger challenge with this $199 professional software-based encoder: Not only does it do Smooth Streaming, but it also implements the draft Pantos spec to deliver iOS-compliant content to Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. Bravo to the Microsoft team for taking on this challenge!
As James Careless outlines in his “State of the Connected Living Room” article, there’s no single set-top box or connected TV that gives consumers access to all the content they likely want. But the Roku XDS is clearly leading the pack; it’s simple to set up and use, has an elegant user interface, and delivers 1080p HD from Netflix, Amazon, and others, all for less than $100. As Dan Rayburn wrote on his Business of Online Video blog, “Roku has the best lineup of content available today and is typically the first box on the market to get new content choices, like Hulu Plus. The company continues to be very quick and nimble in the market and continues to roll out upgraded versions of their player, with more functionality, at a lower price.”
Hour-long online master class guides new users through the basics of offering live video with Smooth Streaming.
Companies and Suppliers Mentioned