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Review: Teradek VidiU, a First Look at the Compact H.264 Encoder

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If you're running the two devices on a different network (cellular for the iPhone, wired for the VidiU), you'll have to manually log the iPhone into the VidiU's Wi-Fi network, a schema used for other Teradek encoders The complication here is that the VidiU uses a dual band Wi-FI at 2.4- and 5.0GHz, with the faster setting as the default. Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S and earlier models aren't compatible with the faster speed (though iPhone 5s and iPads are), so they won't see the network. The simple solution (as mentioned in the quick start) is to manually set VidiU's Wi-Fi band to 2.4Ghz.

Beyond this, logging into Ustream and Livestream was straightforward. Note that VidiU is compatible with the new Livestream, not the old, one of the few third-party products that can connect to this service. I did most of my testing in Livestream, because Ustream didn't save the test streams. This is because I was testing with Ustream's free version, and apparently Ustream's to-record function isn't triggered for the standard and free versions of Ustream by a third-party encoder; you have to be using the standard plan or higher. I ran into this issue with the VidiU and with a version of Telestream Wirecast I was testing around the same time.

Quality Please?

In addition to the system in my office, which is limited to about 860 kbps outbound bandwidth, I brought my streaming gear to the Crossroads Institute, a local incubator and conference facility which had 20Mbps of outbound bandwidth when I tested using Speedtest.net. The team there was in the midst of setting up a charity event, and I appreciate their support.

VidiU Fig 3

Figure 3. Streaming at 2.2Mbps.

At the facility, I configured the quality settings to the max (720p @ 2.2Mbps) and let if fly. The result, as expressed by an independent viewer who noticed the files on Livestream while I was testing was "soooo sharp. Looks excellent!" I admit, I felt the same way, and you can see the test streams on Livestream. Lower quality tests shown on the same page show similarly good quality at lower data rates.

VidiU Fig 4

Figure 4. Quality at 720p@2.2 mbps was excellent (if we do say so ourselves).

The only negative was a slight audio artifact evident only when listening to the audio files with headphones, which editor Troy Dreier accurately likened to listening to the clips underwater, kind of an echo in the headphones. I tested with several microphone combinations using the same Panasonic HMC150 camcorder, but the artifact was present in all tests, to a greater or lesser degree, but only when listening with headphones. I asked Teradek about this and they replied that it was an issue that they hadn't heard before in their internal testing or in their beta group.

In an attempt to determine if the results were camera specific, I tested with a Canon Vixia HFS10, though I had to use the on-camera microphone because there was no XLR microphone input. Though the artifact was very faint, it did appear. Overall, it seemed that the higher quality the audio input, the more evident he artifact became.

As you would expect, while video quality was impressive, the audio issue was a concern. You can draw your own conclusions regarding severity by listening; for me, it's most evident in the high quality second from the top, and again, only when listening with headphones. We'll let you know what we hear back from Teradek. 

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