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Digital Rapids TouchStream

Feb 15, 2011 10:52 AM, by Jan Ozer

A live event encoding appliance with simple operation.


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Figure 6. The Trigger Settings control when to start and stop encoding.

Figure 6. The Trigger Settings control when to start and stop encoding.

Rolling Your Own Presets

As mentioned above, if you can’t find a canned project preset that you can use as is, you have to exit the TouchStream software and create your own in the TouchStream Config program, which is really a version of the Stream Live software that ships with the DCR-500 boardthat powers the TouchStream unit. Where the main TouchStream program shields you from technical details, the Stream Live program doesn’t, and probably can’t, because that’s where you set the down-and-dirty codec-specific encoding and preprocessing options.

Figure 7. You customize and create presets in the 
StreamLive software.

Figure 7. You customize and create presets in the StreamLive software.

Streaming professionals will have no trouble working in this program, but it’s far beyond the capabilities of nontechnical users. You can check out an interface tour at www.digital-rapids.com/layouts/Stream23_GUI_Tour.html. If you’re sending a novice user out in the field with the TouchStream, make sure you have a project preset that works, so they don’t have to try to work through Stream Live on the fly.

Testing

Figure 8. A live Windows Media stream encoded by TouchStream and delivered by PowerStream.

Figure 8. A live Windows Media stream encoded by TouchStream and delivered by PowerStream.

I performed multiple tests over the several days of testing, producing both H.264-based Flash and Windows Media video files via the PowerStream CDN and creating archive copies. I streamed all files at 640x360x29.97 frames per second at a video data rate of 600kbps, with 64kbps mono audio. Quality was uniformly good, particularly considering that most of the source was interlaced video shot under low light conditions.

In single file encodes, CPU utilization seldom strayed above 25 percent, and there were no dropped frames in the files I analyzed. Figure 9 shows the information screen while encoding three streams of H.264 video; again, there were no dropped frames, with CPU use peaking at around 70 percent.

Figure 9. Performance while encoding three H.264 streams.

Figure 9. Performance while encoding three H.264 streams.

Overall, I found the TouchStream usable and highly functional. Like most streaming appliances, it is fairly noisy. It takes a big fan to cool a quad-core CPU enclosed in a small metal box. Plan on locating the unit away from any noise-sensitive spots. Though the cursor control works OK on the touchscreen, things will go infinitely better with a USB mouse, so be sure to bring one along. Otherwise, if I was buying a streaming appliance, the TouchStream would be number one on my short list.

Product Summary

  • Company: Digital Rapids
  • www.digital-rapids.com
  • Product: TouchStream Appliances
  • Pros: Easily adjustable in the field; onboard touchscreen; can connect keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the unit for easy configuration in the office; good uniform quality, especially in low light conditions.
  • Cons: Creating custom presets too complicated for nontechnical end-users; have to have the SD-SDI model for component analog support or DV support; fairly noisy.
  • Applications: Live houses of worship, education, corporate, and entertainment events.
  • Price: Starts at $3,995
  • Specifications

    Analog model

    • S-Video and composite analog video input
    • XLR and RCA audio input with maximum 480i (NTSC) 576i (PAL) input and four audio processing channels.
    SDI model
    • SDI video and embedded SDI audio inputs standard
    • AES/EBU stereo audio and analog audio and video inputs optional with maximum 480i (NTSC) 576i (PAL) input and four audio processing channels.
    HD-SDI model
    • HD/SD SDI video and embedded SDI audio, with AES/EBU stereo audio input optional with maximum 1080i, 1080p and 720p HD input and 480i (NTSC) 576i (PAL) SD input and four audio processing channels.



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