Published on November 17th, 2014 | by Greg
Teradek VidiU: HD Livestreaming Without A Computer
Video content is exploding- over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone every minute of every day, and approximately one-third of all online activity is watching videos- over 100 million people each day. You’re probably not in charge of Netflix, and unless you run a movie to television studio, you may be wondering what this has to do with you. The fact is, much of the most popular online video content comes from small and independent producers, creating a massively long tail of how-to tutorials, film criticism, cooking shows, and a huge variety of everything else. And one of the key growth areas is live features- from your child’s basketball game to minor league sporting events. All that matters in news is speed (and location), whether you’re filming a concert, or providing real-time updates from conferences, conventions, awards shows or the red carpet.
The Teradek VidiU is an on-camera wireless streaming video encoder, which allows anyone to capture 1080p HD video from a camera and transmit/upload it to the Web in real-time. Best of all, no PC or computer is required, so you don’t need to worry about multi-step file transfers, or complicated cabling. Truly portable, there’s even built-in wifi and a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lets you roam cable-free for about an hour. Of course, you’ll probably want to remain tethered to a high-bandwidth ethernet connection for best quality, but even if there is no 802.11 wifi available, there is a USB port on the back for you to connect a 3G/4G cellular modem dongle. And you can slip the VidiU on to your camera’s hotshoe and have one less thing to worry about carrying separately.
Let’s talk tech for a moment: H.264 compression means widely-compatible video, and a mic/line input allow your to embed AAC audio as well for your voiceovers or interviews. You can use just about any camera though you’ll probably want to take advantage of the quality with a DSLR or better- but keep in mind that the video input is only HDMI, no fancy HDSDI connector on this model (Teradek’s more expensive option does include it though). We didn’t try every feature and platform out, but should note the API level integration with Ustream and new Livestream platforms, so you can upload to your channel simply and easily (or broadcast to other CDN services, like a Wowza server). That means your lecture series, church sermons, or townhall meetings can be shared without a hitch. Configuration does take a bit of time, and we found ourselves forced to use an app to make changes rather than fuss about with the on-unit controls- make sure your smartphone or tablet has fully-charged batteries and test your setup fully before trying to get it going on-site. Start up can take a bit, too, but we found the unit reliable while in use, with excellent video quality (that adapts to network conditions) and solid stability during sessions.
Other than the awkward interface, this is about as simple as a live streaming video encoder can be these days. It’s still fairly high-end technology, but the VidiU finally brings it to a mass market level and allows you to leave your heavy, bulky computer at home. A dedicated solution is nearly always better than the alternatives, and this little guy was fast and efficient at the task. If you want to broadcast live, this lowers the barrier to entry- just get a decent camera and microphone and you can compete with just about anyone online. If you don’t need real-time production- if you’re editing everything and adding post-production- or if you need multiple cameras (a switcher), then the Teradek VidiU probably isn’t for you. But if you want to take your videos live, this is one of the best, fastest, lightest, and easiest ways to do it. Bonus: it’s even manufactured in the USA. The Teradek VidiU is available online and in stores for around $700.