Review: Streamstar Webcast Case
The titling is superb, with many auto-triggers that make interstitials and inserts easy, and they are introducing a titling option that has packs of animated titles for key sports that you can DVI in from a separate laptop, making even the school football team look like a World Cup Final production!
Most importantly though, it has, undoubtedly, the best replay system that I have played with in similar units. In fact, while several systems will give you a sort of DVR capability to offer basic replay, the Webcast Case replay offers a unique selling point. It is quite hard to concisely explain all the possibilities the replay presents, but, in essence, each camera is stored on a DVR. Hitting the short, medium, or long replay button creates a markup on the timeline that allows you to play back the replay over a range of a few seconds, but it does so by loading the DVR back into the previews too, which enables you to instantly run the replay from any of the other camera views. With titles announcing the replay, and throwing in advertisers’ logos from a carousel at each camera switch with the replay speeds all in slow motion, I was impressed by the ease that a single operator with a single device could produce not just a webcast, but a production on par with a very good professional sports broadcast. Replay is a key tool in the sports media market, and the implementation on the Streamstar Webcast Case is as good an implementation as I have seen.
The biggest difference, though, is price. While the Livestream HD500 sells for $8,500, the Streamstar Webcast Case goes for $19,500.
Reducing this price difference to the replay capability is far too simplistic, but it is the most significant difference, so we should look at what it would take to give the HD500 feature parity.
A Grass Valley K2 Dyno Replay System would broadly start to emulate what the Webcast Case’s replay features offer as standard. Such a unit costs several thousand dollars. To be honest, if you bought Grass Valley units alongside a Livestream HD500, you could, perhaps, start to create replay feature parity with the Webcast Case. The Grass Valley K2 system and an HD500 would cost a similar amount to the price of a Webcast Case -- and you would have several cases to carry around.
The slight tilt provided by the stand at the front of the unit provides excellent positioning for the operator.
So I can see how, if replay is the killer app for a particular producer, the Webcast Case can command that higher price against the HD500.
But if you don’t need replay, or if Livestream updates its software to offer a comparable replay feature and includes it as part of the HD500, then it will become much more competitive with the Webcast Case.
The Livestream system offers an amazing bang for the buck, and if its service fits your purposes, then the whole package is a terrific value for money.
But at the moment, for a sports-focused all-in-one that you can use with any content delivery network (CDN) or distribution model and where the compact portability is a relatively affordable premium for a single operator who needs to produce amazing live webcasts with little effort, the StreamStar Webcast Case is spectacular.
Looking to the future, anyone considering an all-in-one should take a close look at the forthcoming Sony AWS-750 Anycast Touch. I have arranged to get a prerelease unit to review for Streaming Media. While I don’t think it will offer replay or the flexibility of the HD500 or the Webcast Case, the AWS-750 looks like one on the horizon to keep an eye on.
The user interface for the Webcast Case’s replay function, which currently sets the unit apart from competitors
Fairly soon, I anticipate that the all-in-one will become an app on an iPad with Wi-Fi cameras and direct delivery to the CDN, but we are currently a few generations of CPU away from that.
In the meantime, despite the pricing disparity, I strongly encourage you to investigate the Livestream HD500 and the Streamstar Webcast Case, as they are clearly the market-leading units available today.
This article appeared in the autumn 2013 Streaming Media European Edition as "Review: Streamstar Webcast Case."