By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-01-19 Print this article Print

Combining streaming video with presentation slides is a difficult, costly proposition. Sonic Foundry Inc.s Mediasite Live at least lowers the complexity. Mediasite Live includes an appliance and server software. The Mediasite Live appliance comes in the portable $24,950 Mediasite Live ML edition, which eWEEK Labs tested, and the $21,950 rack-mounted Mediasite Live RL.

In eWEEK Labs tests, Mediasite Live simplified the process of building presentations that included streaming because it freed us from having to worry about file-format support.

Mediasite Live fits between traditional Web conferencing systems and larger streaming media management solutions. The ability to stream video in slide presentations is different from the multipoint videoconferencing in Web-based presentation applications such as WebEx Communications Inc.s WebEx or IBMs Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing. However, Mediasite Live doesnt offer the media management tools available in EnScaler Inc.s MediaEnterprise.

WebEx and Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing are priced on a per-user basis, so Mediasite Live costs more upfront but less over time. Companies that dont need Mediasite Lives advanced video streaming should investigate products such as Microsoft Corp.s Microsoft Producer and Macromedia Inc.s Macromedia Flash.

Mediasite Live uses two capture cards to collect content from video sources such as cameras and PC graphics cards. We could easily manage the process of creating and scheduling presentations using a Windows-based application or a couple of Web-based management tools.

By capturing the video signal from a computer to display presentation slides, Mediasite Live allows users to make presentations regardless of file format—a versatility that isnt found in other Web-based presentation tools. Streaming video must come through the capture cards, however, so Mediasite Live cant tap inexpensive desktop video cameras.

The product has great potential for training applications, where video imagery can greatly improve illustration and retention. Running a presentation with video is a two-person operation, however. The presenter must concentrate on content and presentation slides, while someone else makes sure the streaming content manager application is properly capturing and streaming content.

Mediasite Lives management tools reduce the complexity of all this. We could use a Windows-based application or Web-based apps to manage presentations. The tools allowed us to specify connection speeds and where content would reside.

We could also archive content so that it could be distributed via CD instead of over the Internet. The management tools control presentation polling as well as the question-and-answer mechanism.

The server software requires Windows 2000 Server and uses Microsofts Internet Information Services and Windows Media Services to stream content to viewers. This means that while managing presentations wont require much expertise, organizations will need to think about security.

The limited platform support extends to the client side as well. The software streams only in Windows Media audio and video formats, so only Windows and Mac OS systems running Internet Explorer can be used to view video or listen to audio content.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.


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