Saturday, November 05, 2011

"My name is Bond...Teradek Bond."

Video "uplink in a backpack" systems, pioneered by LiveU, have become very popular for use at major-market television stations for live remotes. These systems use multiple 3G/4G broadband wireless connections, as well as Wi-Fi, to send HD-quality broadcast video live from the field for streaming to the Internet, or for live broadcast. LiveU typically rents its systems for $2,500/month or leases them on an annual basis for $1,500/month; comparable systems from TVU and Streambox sell for $25,000 to $40,000 (U.S.).

Teradek, whose Cube was the first device that made live broadcast-quality Wi-Fi streaming from camcorders feasible and inexpensive, has launched a new device called Bond that shrinks the "uplink in a backpack" down to a size that fits on top of a camcorder, and a price that almost any producer can afford. The Bond is designed to be connected to a Cube, and accepts up to five 3G or 4G USB cellular modems. The Cube provides the HD/SD-SDI or HDMI video input for the Bond; some models also provide Wi-Fi output. At the station or streaming end, Sputnik, a Linux-based application reconstructs the bonded video into a single MPEG-TS stream that can be processed with most H.264 decoders.

That's interesting, but not revolutionary: The LiveU, TVU and Streambox systems do essentially the same thing. What makes Teradek's system revolutionary is the price: The Bond's list price is $2,490 (U.S.). A Cube 250 with a HDMI interface and USB output (needed for the Bond) lists for $1,590. Sputnik is free. If you want to use an end-to-end Teradek solution, a Cube 400 decoder outputs to a HDMI interface as well as wired Ethernet, for $1,190. That's a complete, broadcast-quality broadband ENG uplink/downlnk system for $5,270. Depending on whether you rent monthly or annually, that's about two or four month's rental of a LiveU system, and about 20% of the purchase price of a TVU system. You're going to see a lot more live webcasts and broadcasts, thanks to Teradek and its Bond.

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