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Review: Teradek Vidiu X

Anthony Burokas provides an in-depth look at the Teradek Vidiu X Live Streaming Encoder.

Bonded Streaming with the Vidiu X

Back in the software UI, as shown in Figure 5, at the top is the Streaming menu. As I said, I've already pre-done some of this. I have it set to go to a Facebook destination, so that makes it easy. If you wanted to configure destination, Figure 10 (below) shows what's built into the unit: Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Wowza. If you have an account, you just connect to it and then send it to whatever event or page or group that you want. That makes it easy. You've got RTMP--manually type it in; RTSP, for those things that require secure; and ShareLink, which is Teradek's cloud service for bonding.

Figure 10. Built-in streaming options. Click the image to see it at full size.

So this little box can connect via ethernet, via Wi-Fi, via cellular modem, and then spread your video signal across those three different networks out into the internet. Now, if I'm throwing packets left and right on three different servers, something at the other end has to put those packets back together into a coherent stream with all of them in order, because some of them might arrive ahead of other ones. ShareLink is that service that puts them in order, you do pay for sharing. It's not free. If you upgrade to Core, you get a lot more capability, but you also get a little bit more cost.

So those are cloud services, and cloud services for bonding, typically, always cost. If you're not paying for bonding and something says it's bonding and it's free, I would be suspicious, because there's a lot of services out there that say they do bonding, but they don't really. What they do is they prioritize services, so your streaming may go across one thing, but other handshaking goes across another connection. Load balancing is not bonding. That's doing different things on different paths, but you're always sending the video on one path and then if that path dies--let's say, the cellular connection gets hammered by a crowd of 20,000 people and I can't get that connection anymore because they ramped up over the course of an hour--now it has to shift gears and lean on the other ones. Load balancing is not going to be able to do that. It's going to have to break that connection and establish a new connection, whereas with bonding, those three connections are invisible to the recipient. So that's where bonding comes into play.

Video and Audio Settings and Recording

You can do recording in the Vidiu X unit, as I said. If you enable Recording, you get the entire set of features shown in Figure 11 (below). Obviously, it's asking me for an SD card, and a name, and it's also going to ask me for the specific parameters.

Figure 11. Recording features. Click the image to see it at full size.

But before we record, let's start with the audio and video settings. You can see the Video settings in Figure 12 (below). You can pick your SD or HD option, but it's only going to stream one signal. This is not multicasting. This is not establishing all of the different bitrates that people are going to use. Whether you send your stream to YouTube or Facebook, that service, not the device, will give you all the different bitrates. Here I've set a bitrate of 4 Megabits per second. If you click on it, you can see it will go up to 15 Mbps, which is pretty good for an HD stream.

Figure 12. Video settings. Click the image to see it at full size.

With the audio settings, you can choose between your HDMI and your analog source. You can change the volume, which is especially important if you're coming in analog, because it might be a little bit too hot. Bring it down, so it doesn't clip. You can change the bitrate so that you have more bits available for depending on the type of music you're doing, or if you're out there doing sports, you probably don't need a really big bitrate.

On this main screen shown in Figure 13 (below), you'll find your video preview. There you can see that this is live, fed through the Wi-Fi. Now, just to clarify, the feed I'm seeing on my iPad is not through the internet because I'm not broadcasting anywhere yet. It's through the local area connection, so this app is talking directly to the VidiU X. It's not talking through the internet and doing that.

Figure 13. Video preview. Click the image to see it at full size.

If you were using the Core app or a ShareLink app to talk directly to Core and ShareLink in the cloud, then if you saw a video feed, you would be talking to the cloud and getting a feed from the cloud. But what I'm doing here, just to be clear, is I'm using the VidiU app and it's seeing the device over the local area network.

Figure 14 (below) shows broadcast status. It says Ready, and then if you look at the front of the unit, it's says the same thing. It's ready to go. It says it's on Wi-Fi there, so again, you're seeing the same information presented in both places.

Figure 14. Broadcast status

If you look at the top of the unit (Figure 15, below), you can see it says it's got a camera and it's ready to go on the cloud. The third light, for recording, is not lit up because I don't have any media inserted in the unit.

Figure 15. On-unit status indicators (left to right, camera, cloud, recording).

Going Live

Now let's start this thing streaming. At the bottom of the screen in Figure 16 (below), you see the big Go Live button. When I click it, it takes a couple seconds to do the handshaking and everything.

Figure 16. Click the Go Live button to launch the stream. Click the image to see it at full size.

So let's see how this looks on Facebook (Figure 17, below). We're live. I can see the flicker. If I wave my hand in front of the camera, it takes about 20, 25 seconds to get from live to being displayed on Facebook.

Figure 17. Streaming to Facebook. Click the image to see it at full size.

So we have successfully broadcast live. Then I can go back into the app stop the broadcast. In a nice graphical interface, we're able to easily administer the Vidiu X without poking it, which is especially important if the device is connected to a small camera or it's up somewhere or embedded somewhere. You can remotely control the device wherever it might be. It's also handy if you've got multiple ones in a rack--you can access multiple devices in the UI without physically touching any of the devices. So you can have different devices doing different things, especially at an event. You could have multiple stages and just jump between the different devices doing different things, checking on things, checking on the records and things like that. That makes it very handy, especially just doing it with one app in an iPad or smartphone.

So that is my overview of the Teradek VidiU X. This is a handy little lightweight unit that has a lot of capabilities packed into a small form factor, including recording, streaming, bonding. And like I said, it's also a hardware interface into the Teradek Airmix app if you decide to use it for that as well.

 

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