Growing up in the Great Lakes region, it was very common to have a runny nose in winter. It was also very common to ask someone for “a Kleenex,” when all I really needed was a tissue. So why ask for a Kleenex? Was it any better than a normal tissue? No, it was just that Kleenex was one of the first and most recognized names in pocket-sized tissues and via their marketing efforts, became a colloquial term for a tissue. The same goes for all-in-one video production solutions that stream live video.
“I need a TriCaster,” is one of the most common statements I have heard from clients over my 11 plus years of helping people stream their content. A lot like Kleenex, people become accustomed to asking for a TriCaster, when all they really wanted was either a simple streaming encoder or an all-in-one video production solution. Being first out of the gate, along with a massive, ongoing marketing effort by NewTek, it is no wonder that most people know the name “TriCaster.” So, does being one of the most recognized names in streaming, make it the best?
Taking nothing away from a very capable product, please know that it is not the only solution available. As for being deemed “the best,” well that is in the eyes of the user. I have always had a soft spot for the TriCaster as it was my first all-in-one production experience, but as I progressed in my professional streaming career- I have found some great alternatives for much less money. Although most people feel that you “get what you pay for,” I am proud to say that with advancements in technology, this statement may no longer be the case.
Although Wirecast came into existence in 2004, my personal experiences with the early versions of the software made me leery of using it for professional work, as I experienced connectivity issues with several pieces of hardware. Much to the relief of streaming professionals and webcasters, most of these issues were cured with later versions, and now as we are currently enjoying a feature-rich version 8- it’s showtime! Adding onto that, Telestream has been producing a solidly built 1U Wirecast Gear hardware solution (which I have tested) for well over a year now, and for under $5,000- it is a good deal and an alternative to NewTek.
Similar in design to the TriCaster interface, VIDBlasterX has been creating quite a stir in Europe. With a very low initial price for the software subscription and a completely modular interface, VIDBlasterX is as elegant to use as its design. I really like the modular nature of this software, the ease of use, and overall feature set, but to be honest- to get the most out of this software, you need a solidly built PC with plenty of CPU power. Fortunately, I know a place that can help you with that.
In my professional opinion, vMix strikes the perfect balance of features, cost, and reliability. I personally LOVE using vMix and over the years, have counted on the software for mission critical streams. Born out of necessity for the HOW market, vMix has matured at an alarming rate and is acclaimed by video professionals for it’s professional-grade stability and flexible workflow. In fact, vMix was among one of the first video production solutions outside of NewTek to implement NDI technology for expandability beyond physical inputs.
This technology means that you can literally scale up your productions without the need to upgrade or be forced to trade in your hardware as often. With some TriCaster solutions exceeding $20,000- it is no wonder that there is interest in other video production solutions. Not to mention, the weak trade-in credits offered to existing users may not be enough to get a school district or HOW on a budget the latest and greatest equipment, without a significant fundraising effort or substantial financing.
Speaking of upgraded hardware and NDI, when it came time to design the Dude PCs for Stream Dudes, I made sure we built them to meet and exceed the recommended hardware specs for vMix as it is truly a complete all-in-one video production solution. Therefore, the Dude PC is a good TriCaster alternative for much less money. Starting at under $3,500, the Dude PC lineup has everything from a palm-sized portable solution, to a full 8-input 2U rackmount system. You need to check these “Dudes” out.
So, does being one of the most recognized names in streaming, make it the best? In short- no. Paying more for a name doesn’t necessarily get you the most for your needs. In fact, one of the biggest caveats to going the “name brand” route is that you must conform your production to its workflow, as opposed to having it just work for you. I hope this helps to open your eyes and your minds to viable alternatives to enhance your video productions and encourage you to get streaming. Should you have any questions or want to learn more, give me a call at (715) 972-3833 or visit streamdudes.com for more information.
– J. Basile, C0-Founder & COO