Earlier this year I replaced by aged desktop computer. The rather bulky, traditional HP tower was replaced by a fantastic little Airptop-PC. The Airtop is a fanless wonder. It’s powerful, has multiple (six!) monitor outputs, a massive array of ports, and draws a tiny amount of power.
While the Airtop-PC is a silent thing of beauty, what it lacks is the extra PCIe slot necessary to install my Aver Media C127 HDMI capture card. This has left me considering USB-connected HDMI capture devices.
I’ve put the Brio through a few simple experiments and learned a few things. At least superficially, it does what it says. Connected via USB 3.0 it delivers a 2160p30 (aka 4k) stream using MJPEG encoding to vMix and OBS.
You might recall my ongoing lament about the lack of innovation in what we now laughably call webcams. If not, here’s a brief refresher…the current state of the art in consumer webcams (IMHO, the Logitech C920 & 930e, released in 2012 & 2013 respectively) are getting quite vintage. Where are the newer models that address current technological front lines, like USB 3.0, 4K resolution, VP9, HEVC, etc?
My long and continuing exploration of the evolution of webcams has reliably turned up a small set of companies that are doing interesting things. Conference Room Systems is one such company. An AV reseller in Pennsylvania they seemed to recognize that A/V tech was evolving beyond its traditional boundaries. It was moving into live streaming, in applications from corporate to churches, schools and community groups.
However, a sales organization is just that. They exist to sell things. Having spent many years in such an organization it’s familiar territory for me. Sometimes they are genuinely knowledgeable, occasionally less so.
It may seem like my long, winding exploration of webcams has stalled, but I assure you that’s not the case. I’m moving as fast as the industry will permit. The fact is that the industry just isn’t moving very quickly.
Back in October 2013 I first penned something about my hunt for a USB 3.0 webcam. At that point there were basically none to be had. A few months later when Vaddio presented their Huddlestation product on VUC472 they mentioned that USB 3.0 capable chip sets for such devices were anticipates later in 2014.
Well, it’s now well into 2016 and where are the USB 3.0 webcams? I actually get asked this question quite a bit, most recently in a tweet from George Ou of ZDNet.
Vaddio has today announced that their RoboSHOT 12 camera is now shipping. This device is notable for supporting both streaming H.264 over IP and delivering uncompressed 1080p60 over a USB 3.0 interface. It also has an HDMI output. All three output methods are simultaneously live.
The various specifications of the RobotShot 12 are all top-of-the line. The camera is aimed at enterprise installations. It will surely find it’s way into video conference suites, surveillance/monitoring, and even tele-production.
Remember that to deliver 1080p video* any USB 2.0 attached webcam must compress the video using either MJPEG or H.264. Only by compressing the stream in-camera can it deliver the that resolution over the 480 Mbps USB 2.0 connection. Once the video is delivered cross the USB link, in many cases it must be decompressed to allow further manipulation before final delivery to it’s ultimate destination.