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NHK Deploys Streambox's New Portable Video Encoder

Hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for low cost newsgathering products that can bring high-definition content back from the field, Streambox has begun selling the portable Streambox SBT3-9500 Video Transport Encoder. Japanese public broadcaster NHK is the first to deploy the product, which allows broadcasters to bring back HD and SD signals using 3G, WiFi, WiMAX, satellite, the Internet and other low data-rate networks.

"NHK has already used it to capture video from Islamabad and other parts of the world and then send the content to Tokyo," said Bob Hildeman, chairman and CEO of Streambox. "It allows local and national broadcasts to bring in HD news from the field over bandwidth that would normally only accommodate standard-def."

For live HD newsgathering, the portable video transport encoder allows users to select low bandwidth encoding rates of between 512 Kbps and 6 Mbps.

Besides the NHK deal, Hildeman reports strong initial demand for the product from U.S. broadcasters. While a number of stations have upgraded to HD local newscasts and acquired HD field cameras, the cost and difficulties of sending HD signals back to the studio has hampered the move to all HD production. Most content is still sent back to the studio in standard definition, where it is upconverted to HD.

"Many of the stations in the top 50 markets are HD enabled," he said. "But there has not been a viable and economic way for them to bring in that content in HD. We're very actively demonstrating the product for many broadcasters and showing them that there is now a viable solution on the market. It is a compelling value proposition especially with all the budget cuts broadcasters are facing."

The Streambox SBT3-9500 was developed in response to a request from NHK. The Japanese broadcaster wanted a video transport encoder for HD and SD video that was portable and would work over IP so their reporters could work anywhere there was connectivity, Hildeman said.

The SBT-9500 uses the ACT-L3 codec for full frame 1080i/720p HD video and NTSC/PAL SD video and audio. Its dual networking capabilities allows for multiplexing and de-multiplexing of a single video stream over two lower-cost data rate IP networks. That makes it less costly to use than higher bandwidth options, Hildeman said.

To help reporters working on location, the product can be powered from an external battery pack or run via a car battery.