NAB show roundup: Cool gear for videophiles

I've spent the past few days at the annual show for the National Association of Broadcasters, also known as NAB. The trade show, held in Las Vegas, features events and products geared toward television and radio stations, as well as filmmakers and other video creators.

This was the first time I've attended the show -- it felt interesting to be a trade show newbie once again (after 12-plus years of attending the Consumer Electronics Show, you tend to know where things are located). While many of the products were way over my head in terms of technologies, acronyms and my budget, I did find some cool stuff worth mentioning in this post:

G-Technology's new hard drives

Storage vendor G-Technology was courting content creators with its new high-capacity and high-performance external storage drives. The new G-Drive Pro features capacities up to 4TB, and with its Thunderbolt connection can deliver data transfer rates of up to 480MBps. The G-Drive Pro features two Thunderbolt ports, which lets users add additional storage or daisy-chain another Thunderbolt device (such as a monitor) to the Macintosh system. The 2TB model is expected to cost about $700, and the 4TB model will sell for about $850, G-Technology says, with availability later this summer.

G-Technology G-Drive Pro

Credit: G-Technology

G-Technology G-Drive Pro

The company also announced its new Evolution Series of portable hard drives, as well as a docking station that lets users combine the drives into RAID configurations for faster performance. The G-Drive ev External Hard Drive Module is a 2.5-inch, 7200 RPM hard drive that supports data transfer rates of up to 136MBps. The drive will come in 500GB ($150) or 1TB ($200) flavors, and will be available in May.

The G-Drive ev PLUS module gives you some additional performance -- the USB 3.0-enabled 2.5-inch drive (7200 RPM) can supports data transfer rates up to 250MBps, G-Technology says. The 1TB drive will be available later this summer for about $350.

G-Technology G-Dock ev

Credit: G-Technology

G-Technology G-Dock ev

Both the ev and ev PLUS modules can also connect to the new G-Dock ev, a Thunderbolt-enabled two-bay docking station. The dock lets you set up multiple storage system configurations, including JBOD, RAID 1 for redundancy or RAID 0 for performance. When two of the modules are connected to the dock via their SATA ports, the Thunderbolt connection to the computer helps increase the data transfer rates of the drives (when used in the RAID 0 configuration). Dual Thunderbolt ports on the dock let you daisy-chain up to six docking stations, or connect other Thunderbolt-enabled devices. Available in May, the G-Dock ev will include two 1TB G-Drive ev modules (and a Thunderbolt cable), and will cost about $750.

Signiant's high-speed large file data transfer

File movement software vendor Signiant announced the addition of file sharing capabilities to its Media Shuttle offering. The service lets multiple users more easily upload and download content from a shared file system. With broadcast and video files that are 1GB or more, getting those files transferred quickly from one person to another can be a drag on system resources.

Signiant Media Shuttle

Credit: Signiant

Signiant Media Shuttle

The system takes the advantages of online file sharing systems (ease of use), FTP servers (no file size limits) and Managed File Transfer (acceleration, scale) offerings to create a hybrid cloud offering for companies. While file servers are located on a company's premises, access for clients to send, share and download files can be done through the cloud, Signiant says. The Media Shuttle system allows IT for quick-and-easy setup of portals that let users send (person-to-person transfer), share (let groups upload and download files via a portal) or submit to a workflow process (for automated operations such as virus checking, transcoding or format checking). The company offers a free 14-day trial subscription of Media Shuttle -- head to the Signiant website for more details.

Live streaming a hot topic

Gear and services aimed at companies looking to provide better Internet live streaming capabilities were big at this year's show. Haivision, which makes video encoders that convert video files for multiple viewing formats, was showing off its recently announced Haivision Video Cloud offering. The service aims to provide live encoding of events (through cloud-based transcoding), automated video content management/publishing, video website creation and delivery across content delivery networks.

Haivision Video Cloud

Credit: Haivision

Haivision Video Cloud

While this has been out for a while, I got a chance to get up close with the Livestream Broadcaster, a $500 device that connects to any camcorder with an HDMI output port to stream live HD video without needing a PC. The Broadcaster has streaming capabilities via Wi-Fi or an attached USB 3G/4G wireless modem. Coming soon, a version that will let you stream via Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network.

Haivision Livestream Broadcaster

Credit: Livestream

Livestream Broadcaster

The team at Brightcove was also discussing its ability to provide live broadcasting transcoding for its customers. Through its purchase of Zencoder, Brightcove recently announced general availability of the Zencoder Live Code Transcoding service, an open API for live video encoding in the cloud. This lets content creators to "produce adaptive bitrate streams without significant investments in on-premise hardware," Brightcove says. With transcoding in the cloud, content providers can send video streams to multiple devices (including iOS phones and tablets, for example) without needing costly transcoding hardware at the video source. In addition, content providers only need to pay on a metered basis (starting at $10 per hour, with monthly, usage-based, and annual discounts available) for the transcoding resources used during the event.

Cool audio from DTS

The crew at DTS had a very cool demo at the show -- letting users get a sample of its Headphone:X technology. Attendees would go inside a room set up with an 11.1 surround speaker home theater setup. After listening to the speakers do a sound check, attendees would don a pair of headphones and listen again, but this time the surround sound occurred in the headphones, but it sounded exactly the same. The sound was so good I thought they were playing a trick on me -- but taking off the headphones confirmed that the sound was coming from the headphones, not the speakers.

The cool part about the technology is that it will work with any headphones, not a specially created set. Embedded software works with the device playing the music, game or movie (a phone, tablet, gaming console, TV, etc.). The Headphone:X technology was announced earlier in the year at CES, and the company recently announced a deal with Qualcomm through its Snapdragon platform -- so expect to see this technology appearing on future smartphones and/or tablets.

Other cool gadgets

A quick tour of the International Supplies booth at the show garnered some interesting gadgets, including:

  • Ready Rig camera stabilization system, which lets camera operators shoot in different positions while maintaining stability and comfort (with digital cinema, camcorders or DSLR cameras).
  • Dougmon was also showing off its smaller camera support system, which again provides camera operators with comfort and different flexible positions for shooting things like low-to-ground shots or "run and gun" shots (think Amazing Race style) while maintaining image stability.
  • NEXTO DI had a cool file storage backup unit -- letting photographers or videographers snap in a card to provide quick and easy backup. A newer model included Wi-Fi and an app that lets creators view their footage from the drive on an iPad (to confirm the shot or even set up a file list for editing).
  • The Nighthawk Bluetooth Microphone Combo System gives you a better microphone for recording subjects than relying on camcorder microphones or the ones from an iPhone or iPad. The recently upgraded system includes a port for attaching a lavaliere microphone to an interview subject if they don't want to wear the larger Bluetooth receiver.
To comment on this article and other Network World content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Related:
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.