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Birddog Redefines NDI-to-HDMI on the cheap

A little over two years ago, I surveyed the various tools that could be used to display an NDI stream on a monitor or projector. In staging Cluecon 2018 I had used a couple of Lenovo M73 Tiny computers running Windows and Newtek Studio Monitor. There were other options, but the most accessible dedicated hardware solution was the Birddog Mini, which cost around $500.

That post has proven to be quite popular. In fact, it needs to be revisited in the light the latest announcements from Birddog, which happened just this week. Newtek’s launch of NDI 5 allowed Birddog to announce a set of new products and services, including Birddog Play.

Birddog Play is a small dedicated hardware device designed to allow playback of an NDI stream at a monitor or projector. It ticks literally every box I can think of. And it does it for just $150 USD!

Birddog Play Rear


SUPPORTED VIDEO FORMATS*UHD 2160p – 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, 60
HD 1080p – 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, 60
HD 720p – 50, 59.94, 60
VIDEO I/O CONNECTIVITY1x HDMI 2.0 – Full size connector
AUDIO I/O CONNECTIVITYHDMI 2.0 – Audio output (Stereo)
3.5mm Analog – Audio output (Stereo)
VIDEO CODEC SUPPORTNDI® – High Bandwidth i-frame, low latency
NDI® HX2 – h.264/HEVC long-GOP
BirdDog Cloud Connect – Ultra-low latency, Internet delivered with discovery
NDI® 5 BridgeYES
NDI® 5 REMOTEYES, token based
WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONSDimensions – 85mm x 85mm x 19mm
Weights – 97g
Mounting Integrated magnetic base and rubber feet
POWERPower Input – USB-C
Voltage – 5vDC
Current – 1.2a

While the table does not include it, Play can be powered via standard power-over-ethernet. Admin is via a simple web UI, just like the Birddog Mini that I know and love. Unlike the Mini, Play can handle NDI-HX2 compressed streams and reaches all the way to 4K60.

I suspect the secret silicon under the hood is an ARM processor, since NDI 5 includes ARM support for the first time.

This little device is exactly what the doctor ordered for affordably delivering NDI streams to points of presentation in support of a live event. Low-latency, high-quality, low cost. Can you tell I’m excited?

Update June 9, 2021: While the web page initially stated that Birddog Play was POE-capable, that claim has since been removed.

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