Mobile Live Video Streaming: PocketCaster Enables All Mobile Phones And PDAs For Live Broadcasting
Everyone got very envious of my QIK/ Nokia combo and its ability to let me video stream live from anywhere I am... but only if I have my Nokia. QIK works only with Symbian-based mobile cameraphones and all those guys with an iPhone or a slick HTC really get pretty frustrated when they see what my N95+QIK can do compared to their shiny but much less useful soap bars.
But thanks to one of the most frustrated fans everyone who doesn't have a Nokia phone can now start rejoycing too. On Sunday in fact, my friend Daniele Alberti, the Italian startupper and entrepreneur behind MyMinutes.org, pinged me via Skype as I was on the high-speed train coming back to Rome. He then proudly pointed me to a live video streaming application that enables every single mobile phone, PDA, smartphone, UMPC computer to do much of what QIK does and more.
I honestly could not my believe my eyes as after only a few minutes I was able to download, install and immediately video stream live from the newly discovered application.
The "new" service has a much longer background and history than QIK does, having the company behind it been building this unique mobile video streaming platform since 2005 (see the video from Demo Fall 05 further down in this review).
But even more impressive than this, this mobile live video streaming service also integrates a GPS-based positioning system capable of showing next to your video a map that pinpoints precisely the location from where you are broadcasting, supports RSS feeds, has automatic recording and archival of all video clips, allows you to auto-post to your Wordpress blog, to YouTube and Twitter and a lot more.
You don't believe me?
As Comvu, the company behind proudly claims, PocketCaster is probably the world's first live video broadcast streaming service dedicated to all 3G mobile phones and to all other portable platforms, from UMPCs to more traditional Windows notebooks.
Comvu PocketCaster offers downloadable and installable versions of its software for all the major mobile phones and it provides a huge list of the specific devices it supports. PocketCaster is also supported by a fully mobile version of its main web site allowing users to access and view their favorite video clips even while on the move.
Among the unique characteristics that this service has to offer is the GPS-map integration, as well as finer control of the quality of video transmission, RSS support, automatic recording of each clip and a ready-to-download file for each video streamed.
Last but not least PocketCaster allows you to create contacts and group lists that you can use to market and promote your live show when needed, as well as the ability to allow you, the publisher, to embed your selected videos anywhere you want on the web.
PocketCaster live video streams can be also automatically posted to your Wordpress blog, to your YouTube account, and you can set Twitter notifications to be sent out each time you start a new video stream.
Like most other live video streaming services out there now, PocketCaster is free to use but it is unclear whether it still imposes bandwidth and storage limits on the streams and recorded clips allowed for each one account (as its online documentation indicates). Were this the case I think PocketCaster would have a lot to lose since all major competitors out there are now offering a fully free, no-strings and no-apparent-limits attached to their video streaming services.
- Stream live from your mobile phone
- Record automatically every single broadcast
- Upload and stream any existing video clip recording
- Download any video recording in a standard WMV or MOV file
- Embed any video or your full live PocketCaster channel on your preferred blog site
- Select specific data rates for video streaming at the best quality possible
- Switch from front to back camera during a live stream in just one-click
- Record and stream while holding your mobile phone vertically (on QIK I need to keep my Nokia horizintal, but here it works the other way around with the mobile phone needing to stand upright)
- Post automatically to your Wordpress blog
- Post automatically to your YouTube account
- Post an automatic notification to Twitter every time you start a new live video stream
- Choose which livecasts are for private and public access.
- Show the exact location from where you are live video streaming with dynamic GPS tracking while allowing your viewers to track you in real-time during your moves.
- Create a contact lists and organize all your contacts in groups that can be notified easily during any live video stream.
How To Make It Work
Here is what you need to live video stream directly from your mobile phone
- An active ComVu account.
- A compatible mobile device with video recording ability.
- ComVu's free PocketCaster software installed.
- A data account with your mobile network carrier.
How to get started
1) Sign up for an account and download/install the appropriate PocketCaster software on your mobile device.
2) When you're ready to start live video streaming, launch PocketCaster on your mobile device, check your settings, and ensure you are actively connected to the internet.
3) Press the start button and you are streaming live from your mobile phone.
4) During the video streaming session you can automatically notify selected viewers of your live show.
What mobile devices are supported?
Supported mobile devices for Comvu PocketCaster include most or all devices running one of these operating systems:
- Windows Mobile 5/6
- Windows PocketPC 2003
- Windows CE.
What network connection do I need?
You obviously need the faster and better wireless mobile connection you can get. A "flat" data solution would be the best, and the higher the upload bandwidth your provider can serve you, the better your video quality.
"Encoding quality of the video is optimized for all major wireless networks, including: GPRS, 1xRTT, EDGE, UMTS, EV-DO, EV-DO Rev.A, BGAN, WiFi, HSDPA, WiBro and WiMax. "
PocketCaster at Demo Fall '05
Comvu at Demo Fall 05 - already two and half years ago Comvu was set to pave the mobile live video broadcasting road - interesting to see the company still alive and finally
emerging with a set of new features and a new business strategy
To Be Improved
The PocketCaster client player can either be the Windows Media Player plugin or the Apple Quicktime one. While they both work fine in today's world of web video they appear more as legacies of the past rather than innovative and cutting edge solutions. The large part of the new emerging world of web-based live video streaming services, from Ustream to Mogulus to Kyte and QIK are all Flash-based, and believe me, that is not just a coincidence.
The overall service doesn't seem to be as complete and reliable as the one of a company that has started showcasing its unique invention over two years ago. For example:
a) I get regularly logged out by the PocketCaster web-based system whenever I do certain operations,
b) to see the GPS map integration working you need to be on Internet Explorer 6 or later,
c) to stop video streaming and recording I need to access a menu and then select Stop. A more direct one-click route on the same button that I used to start the video would be so much easier.
Direct to blog posting is a great feature but Comvu needs to support all XML-RPC compatible publishing platforms with a proper implementation. Having already Wordpress support is absolutely great but definitely not enough if Comvu wants to gain greater exposure and visibility inside the marketplace.
Dynamic GPS tracking is supported only by using Internet Explorer 6 or later. That's too bad with so many users now giving a preference to FireFox.
In Firefox I cannot even select the embed code for publishing any specific video clip on my site. I can see the code but I can't select it. Everything OK if I do the same on IE.
The revolutionary feature introduced by QIK, which allows direct chat back from your live viewers is sorely missing. While text chat is supported this can take place only on your official PocketCaster "Live" page.
Comvu PocketCaster is a mobile live video streaming service that supports a huge number of mobile phones, UMPCs computers and even standard Windows notebooks as broadcasting stations.
For now the service remains in Beta and it is unclear the business model it will offer to match its competition free offerings.
Cool unique features include dynamic GPS tracking, RSS support, video embedding, a one-click front and back camera view (for those of you who have mobile devices equipped with two cameras) and the ability to auto-post to a Wordpress blog and YouTube while sending notifications to your Twitter account.
Quality of video is good and it can be controlled to a much finer degree than with competing solutions.
Disappointing is the GPS support limited to IE and the embed technology restricted to the use of Windows Media and Quicktime plugins.
PocketCaster has undoubtedly all of the features and technology to become a competitive presence in the mobile live video streaming market. We need to see whether it will take the business and marketing strategy steps that will make its technology a killer solution for everyone.
Given the time this technology has already been on the market (it was launched in 2005), it should have now the momentum and interest from a rapidly growing audience of interested small broadcasters.
The next few months will tell whether Comvu will remain in the shadow or take the front stage as a technology finally ready for wide adoption.
It is my personal opinion that a partnership similar to the one that QIK has striken with Mogulus could give immediately PocketCaster a much wider exposure and a pre-selected audience that could rapidly boost Comvu visibility to a much higher level.
PocketCaster Help - FAQ - Support Information
PocketCaster Compatible Devices
Find out about the PocketCaster Mobile Studio
here below is what it looks like - no public pricing available for it yet:
Originally written by Robin Good for Master New Media and first published as "Mobile Live Video Streaming: PocketCaster Enables All PDAs For Live Broadcasting" on March 4th 2008
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