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Video Review: VBrick VBoss Broadcast

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

New service allows companies to experiment with streaming video.

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VBoss Broadcast

Live video streaming has been around for more than a decade, and in that time, it has secured a reputation for technical complexity in both networking and video. Indeed, the past challenges of streaming have undoubtedly kept many organizations away from seriously pursuing video over IP. But the times they are a-changing. Today, sites such as YouTube have essentially made streaming video just another data type for today's computers, and people now use it regularly. Fortunately, live streaming at the corporate level isn't what it used to be either — and VBrick has a way to prove it.

VBrick has been selling video-over-IP appliances for more than a decade, if not boasting about how easy it can be. Now, with a new service built around its video-brick hardware, the company is putting its proverbial money where its marketing mouth is by eliminating both capital expenditures and the technical barriers to live video streaming. VBoss Broadcast targets corporate and educational markets for whom traditional streaming start-up expenses and level-of-service contracts are too big a hurdle.

VBoss includes hardware (one of VBrick's regular Windows Media appliances), but surprisingly, you don't pay for it. VBoss is a service that allows corporations and organizations to test the waters with streaming for just $1,000 for 500 hours.

New VBoss customers receive a preconfigured “brick,” or video-over-IP appliance (interestingly, it comes in a green chassis rather than the company's typical black, but it's the same device). VBrick requires only a refundable $1,200 deposit, returned in full whenever use of the service ends — whether that's in one month, one year, or one decade. The actual cost of VBoss is measured in viewing hours at the rate of $1,000 per 500 viewed hours. You pay $1,000 up front, and then another $1,000 once you've used up the first 500 hours, and so on.

The important distinction in viewing hours is that they are measured not by how many hours of video are streamed out from the brick, but rather the numbers of hours that video is viewed by a browser over the Internet. In other words, you can stream forever if no one's watching, but if 500 browsers are viewing a single stream, they will use up the 500 viewing hours in one hour.

Of course, if more people are watching, it's a good indication that the video streaming is a success, and continuing with the VBoss service is likely. VBrick will, of course, be happy to sharpen the pencil or to sell the hardware outright if streaming volumes reach a much higher level. But the real value of VBoss is as an accessible and affordable way to determine how leveraging video over IP might be good for business, education, or communication — and thus, if it's worth the greater expense.

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