This week has primarily been reserved for consumer electronics news from CES, but video pros got something to smile about yesterday when Teradek and Ustream jointly announced a new portable video encoder, the VidiU. Physically, the VidiU is very similar to Livestream's Broadcaster, which pioneered the low-cost portable video encoder market, and by all accounts has been very successful at bringing new customers to Livestream. The Broadcaster is small enough to fit on top or beneath a camcorder, compresses 1080i or 720p video over HDMI into H.264 video at up to 2.3Mbps, and sells for $495. There's a new version of the Broadcaster in the works that adds a built-in 4G modem for Verizon's LTE, but Livestream hasn't yet announced the price or release date.
Teradek's VidiU looks a lot like the Broadcaster--about the same size, similar display and controls, and similar connectivity options (wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G broadband via USB modem)--but it's black instead of the Broadcaster's red. However, unlike the Broadcaster, which can only be used with Livestream's streaming video service, the VidiU comes configured out of the box to support both Livestream and Ustream. In addition, the VidiU has a generic RTMP interface that works with a variety of other streaming services, including Brightcove and Ooyala.
The VidiU also supports 1080p or 720p at up to 5Mbps. So, it's faster and more flexible than Livestream's Broadcaster, but what's the downside? The VidiU will sell for $699 when it ships next month, so it'll cost $204 more. But why the buzz about Ustream if the VidiU can work with multiple streaming services? Ustream clearly needs something comparable to the Broadcaster to compete with Livestream, so it's partnered with Teradek to make Ustream the standard, out-of-the-box streaming connection for the VidiU. In addition, it appears that free Ustream service for a limited period will be bundled with the VidiU.
If I were deciding between the Broadcaster and the VidiU, I'd probably buy the VidiU, even for using it with Livestream, because of its added flexibility and performance. I give Teradek a lot of credit for not locking the VidiU to a single streaming vendor.