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Comin' Atcha Live: Web-Based Live Streaming Services Reviewed

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It all started with an empty coffee pot. In 1991 researchers working at Cambridge University would visit the communal coffee pot only to find it empty. Caffeine-fueled geeks working late into the night pointed a camera at the machine and wrote some code to capture the images and distribute it on the network. The "webcam" was born. Jump ahead 18 years. Now, live video online is as integral to our lives as caffeine. We watch presidential inaugurations live on Ustream; CNN pulls in live "iReport" video feeds from viewers; live video conferencing and chat is part of our work life; and software and devices have made it easy for anyone to broadcast video on the internet. We have gone from looking at a coffee cup in England to watching 190 minutes of online video a month, according to Nielsen. Online video is here to stay, and more and more of it is live.

But how do we choose the right tool? Whether you’re a corporation looking for an enterprise-level solution or a college kid who wants to chat with your buddies, there are a bunch of different platforms to choose from. After researching a slew of different websites, I selected 11 live video services to compare and contrast.

The Rules
Traditionally, live webcasts for broad audiences have been planned far in advance and require specialized equipment and personnel, and Streaming Media covers that realm regularly. But the latest trend in live streaming is toward increased speed from concept to delivery; it’s consumer-driven, and it requires only the most basic equipment. Now, even larger organizations are moving toward this model. So my criteria for selecting the sites reviewed here were simple:

1. It must be able to live stream video from a webcam.
2. It must be able to record while streaming.
3. It must be able to embed the recorded video into another site.

Eleven services met my criteria:

• blogTV
• Justin.tv
• Kyte
• LiveCast
• Livestream
• make.tv
• Stickam
• Twitcam
• ubroadcast
• Ustream
• Yaika

I tested multiple video recording/sharing sites that did not fit the specific criteria for this article, but I wanted to include the list so you can check them out on your own:

• Flixwagon
• Qik
• LiveVideo.com
• Veetle
• TwitVid
• 12seconds.tv
• Glomera
• Mobatalk
• yfrog

Video samples are available on the pages that follow, and you can also download a chart comparing features by clicking here.

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