Videomaker Reviews the NewTek NDI HX-PTZ1 Camera

Not long ago I openly admitted that I wear the rants in the family. This goes along those lines. It was inspired by the Chris Monlux’s review of the NewTek NDI HX-PTZ1 Camera published January 14th by Videomaker Magazine. I found this review to be deeply disappointing, and I’d like to tell you why.

First, take the time to read their review. I’ll wait. And you need the context.

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The MagPi: Build A Raspberry Pi Telephone Exchange

Earlier this week, The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, published a how-to article on creating a wee PBX using a Raspberry Pi, RasPBX and a couple of SIP phones. They invite people to “Transform your humble home phone line into a feature-packed PBX with Raspberry Pi and Asterisk!”

The MagPi Cover 79

I’ve been tinkering with Raspberry Pi for some while. It’s fun little platform. I’m actually awaiting the delivery of an Asus Tinker board so that I can explore the use of such an SBC that’s capable of UHD video output.

It amuses me that this MagPi article appears some 13 years(!) after I wrote How-To: Building an Embedded Asterisk Server for Tim Higgins at Small Net Builder.

Back then, there was nothing like the Pi, so I used a Soekris Net 4801. Being Intel-based, it could run a lightweight Linux-based OS and regular Asterisk distro. I used Astlinux, which was brand new at the time.

Everything old is new again. Except me, of course.

Tip of the hat to WhyADuck for pointing out this article.

NDI-to-HDMI on the cheap?

There is no question that Newtek’s NDI is rocking the world of video production. Whether in corporate video, educational video, live streaming or low-end broadcast, it allows a transition to IP transport that’s profoundly attractive in many ways.

NDI delivers high quality video at very low latency, under one frame of video. A 1080p60 NDI stream requires at most around 150 mbps. This is ideal for production applications, which are quite separate from transmission/delivery, where lower bitrates are preferred and some seconds of delay is tolerable.

ClueCon NDI Feed on Monitor

In the early days of NDI, if you needed to view an NDI signal on a monitor that required a Windows PC running NDI Studio Monitor. This is an application that can pick the stream off the network and display it on a monitor. It has some nice features, like the ability to overlay a second stream (picture-in-picture) and show audio metering.

I used this approach at Cluecon 2018, with a very small PC purchased just for the task (pictured above.)

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Life with Pie: A Pixel Two Years On

Google Pixel Live of Pie 300pxAs you may recall, I had something of an issue with my Pixel mobile phone back in September. The August update to Google’s Android Pie OS badly mismanaged the Wi-Fi radio, resulting in battery life measured in minutes vs hours. On a typical day, with limited use, the phone needed to visit the charger by 1pm simply because the Wi-Fi was enabled. This was entirely unacceptable for phone just 16 months old.

Like a good fan-boy, I reported the trouble to Google, who took as much information as I could give, without ever admitting to a problem. Their team of online volunteers handed out anecdotal info, essentially home remedies, without regard for reality. Some users simply thought that 12-18 months was about all you could expect from the battery, and it was time to replace the phone.

Google’s own support team (Tier 3 no less!) took over six weeks to advise that the battery was faulty and should be replaced. This did not jive with my experience, which was that the behavior started when an OS update was installed.

I explored the battery replacement with our local uBreakiFix store. I was referred to them by Google. That was an $80 remedy that could possibly mask the underlying issue. I decided not to bother.

Time passed.  A few more OS updates arrived. Now, as my Pixel turns two year old, its battery life is back to normal. If it comes off the charger at around 7am, with Wi-Fi enabled, it lasts the full day with light use. It no longer gets warm in my pocket. It seems that Google eventually addressed the problem of managing the Wi-Fi radio. The problem that they never admitted existed.

Last week I had to spend some time at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. I had only expected to be there a couple hours, but it turned into almost the entire day. As I was mostly killing time in the waiting area, I was using the Pixel heavily. By 2pm its battery was so depleted that I ran to a nearby shop to purchase a USB-C charging cable. That was to be expected, given the age of the phone and my preference for a bright screen.

In September, I was angry at Google. They were difficult to deal with and did not seem willing to take responsibility for their product. They were evasive, which I found deeply offensive.

It’s finally rolled around to time that I would normally be considering a new phone. I’m not angry anymore, but I do still feel like I was burned by Google. Not enough to jump to Apple. Maybe enough to consider Samsung. I haven’t carried a Samsung phone since the Galaxy Nexus back in 2012.

Google needs to get it’s head in the game. If you make the product, you need to take ownership of the issues. Openly and honestly. Their present support effort is seriously lacking.

Review: Logitech’s Brio 4K Webcam Pro

My how time flies. It hard to believe that I’ve had Logitech’s Brio 4k Webcam Pro in my office for well over a year. While I reported some cursory observations here and here, I’ve yet to give it a proper review…until now.

Brio is Logitech’s first 4K webcam.

As you may recall, I was quite eager to get my hands on a next-generation webcam. I had high hopes for what might be possible using a faster USB 3 connection to the host and a more modern sensor. Brio certainly addresses those areas and more.

My initial evaluation of Brio stalled for quite some time. At that time neither my desktop nor laptop, both a circa 2013, were up to the task of handling 4k video in real-time. While I was using Brio every week, I wasn’t properly able to exercise the little beast.

Happily, the eventual purchase of the Airtop-PC has provided a more than capable host platform. The Airtop has the CPU, GPU and connectivity necessary to cope with 4K video without breaking a sweat. Or making a peep.

Further, as part of my preparations for ClueCon 2018 I upgraded my vMix license to the 4K edition. This gave me both 4K capability and remote control of the PTZ Optics NDI cameras that I rented from Tom Sinclair at Eastern Shore Broadcasting.

Suitably tooled up for the task, I’ve been able to give the little Brio more of a workout in recent months. What follows are my observations from daily use and a series of experiments.

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Voicemeeter 8 (aka Potato) Released Today!

I don’t normally parrot press releases, but I have the highest regard for VB Audio, the Voicemeeter Series and his Virtual Audio Cables. These are profoundly useful pieces of software.

I’ve used Voicemeeter from VB Audio since it launched. It’s great, simple audio mixing software for Windows. In truth, I now routinely use Voicemeeter Banana, which the more capable version, supporting extra virtual inputs and outputs. This is how I bidirectionally connect ZipDX to a Hangout and my headset for VUC each week.

Today VB Audio extends the Voicemeeter series further with the first official release of Voicemeeter 8, which Vincent has nicknamed Potato. Here’s the formal announcement:

Voicemeeter Potato Press Release
VB-AUDIO SOFTWARE
THURSDAY, JANUARY 17, 2019
  
Voicemeeter 8 (a.k.a. POTATO) is finalizing the Voicemeeter Series with an ultimate virtual mixing console application, offering 5 Physical I/O and 3 Virtual I/O to connect again more audio devices and more applications together and to provide more control on any kind of audio workflows (now from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz).

This Voicemeeter release (version 3.0.0.7 / 2.0.4.7 / 1.0.6.7) offers new virtual audio drivers for the entire series (also to Voicemeeter Standard and Voicemeeter Banana) made to be more reliable, with optimal CPU load, better audio quality and fully compatible with all Windows versions (XP, VISTA, WIN7, 8, 8.1, WIN10 32 or 64 bits and Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016 32 or 64 bits). Voicemeeter also installs virtual ASIO drivers (4 clients per ASIO driver) to connect 32 and 64 bits DAW’s and a Virtual ASIO insert driver made to connect a VST HOST to process any pre-fader inputs with any VST Plug-ins.

voicemeeter8

Voicemeeter Potato brings again new features inspired by audio pro mixing console and provides a better Microsoft windows integration. With the 8 BUS multi layer mixer, it is now possible to define an independent mix for each BUS (SEL Button). The internal FX section offers a reverb and a Multitap delay FX to invite musician or small bands to use it as music production mixer. The external FX section provides regular AUX with SEND and RETURN path to connect external hardware FX.  Finally the Potato virtual input strips are showing the connected applications with a volume and mute control for each (as it is proposed by the Windows Volume Mixer).

Voicemeeter Series is also providing extra services through VBAN protocol to transport Real Time audio, Real time MIDI and Real Time Remote Control over network. Voicemeeter package also installs additional applications like MacroButtons, VBAN2MIDI and 2 examples of a BUS A.P.A. (Audio Processing as Application) a 15 Bands Graphic EQ and a 8×8 Gain Matrix. Finally with Voicemeeter comes a complete API to control any parameters or to process audio stream inside Voicemeeter in a client application programmed in any language supporting standard DLL. SDK Download and Voicemeeter Remote API information are on our forums.

Fair trade, affordable for everyone!

While Voicemeeter Standard and Voicemeeter Banana are distributed as Donationware without constraint, Voicemeeter Potato is distributed as donationware with an activation code, free to download and free to use! It will invite you to activate your license after 30 days. Thanks for your participation and support! Contact us for volume licensing or special deals.

Windows XP, VISTA, WIN7, WIN8, WIN8.1, WIN10 32/64 bits (MME, DirectX, WDM/WASAPI, KS, ASIO). www.voicemeeter.com / www.vb-cable.com /www.vb-audio.com