Bargain hunting in Las Vegas


Now that we’re back from the NAB Show, we’ve been going over our notes from the exhibit floor. Here some money-saving ideas that we think will be of interest to broadcasters.

Mobile video is all the rage this year. Think it’s too expensive for your station to get into? How does $99 a month sound? That’s the entry-level price for Xazzy, which was just introduced by Vidiator. The pricing goes up if you use more bandwidth and encoding minutes – but by then you should be producing more ad revenues from the service.

The Xazzy service could be used by both TV and radio stations. It also doesn’t require you to have any deal with a mobile phone provider. Rather, the system identifies the model of phone when each of the users you’ve notified via text clicks in to view the new video and delivers the proper bit-rate stream.

The Vidiator folks showed us the simple web-based site for uploading videos – which they say is a easy as uploading to YouTube – and dispatching notices to viewers/listeners who’ve signed up for your videos. “The goal is to enable any broadcaster or content provider within 10 minutes,” said Vidiator’s Alex Yoon. So, no additional staff is required to get the video solution into operation at your station.

Xazzy is currently operating through wireless telephones, but Vidiator says it will work fine with mobile DTV as well.

Comrex showed us its BRIC-Link device, which acts as a Web server capable of replacing more expensive studio-transmitter-link (STL) systems. For stations needing only AAC bit-rates, the STL can operate on the public Internet, with one BRIC-Link on each end. The price-point for the device is $1,800 each. The new BRIC-Link is based on the Access technology used in Comrex equipment for remote broadcasts.

By the way, the Linux-based BRIC-Link can also be used as a Web-streaming device, handing up to 30 channels.

Inovonics has brought RDS/RBDS encoding under the $600 threshold with its INO mini 703 model priced at $590. The tiny device, using intuitive Windows software (program it from any PC via the USB port), is not intended for “dynamic” messaging, such as song titles and weather updating, but will scroll station IDs, program promos and ad messages up to 128 characters.

Although most RDS-enabled receivers are currently in automobiles, the technology is rapidly moving into FM receivers included in cell phones and MP3 players.