Frequently Asked Questions
Are HDOnTap’s streaming services delivering live video?
Yes. HDOnTap’s webcam streaming services are delivering live video. There is approximately a 10 to 25 second delay from Live which is introduced as a result of the HTTP/HLS streaming technology which is based on video chunks. Reducing the delay unfortunately introduces issues with stream quality and stability.
Are HDOnTap’s webcam streaming services secure?
Yes. All server and webcam connections are established over either TCP or UDP and secured by passwords. Although not required, firewall rules may be established limiting access to and from specific ports on the webcam itself securing unauthorized access.
Are special software or plug-ins required?
No. Time consuming and annoying software downloads ARE NOT required. HDOnTap's Live Stream Player is HTML5 as opposed to Flash. It is natively supported on all browsers and devices! Any Device! Any Screen!
Does HDOnTap record my webcam video?
Server side recording of the live video stream is a feature which HDOnTap does offer. It is included with some of our streaming plans. Unless this feature is part of your contracted services, we are not recording the webcam video.
How long has HDOnTap been in business?
While HDOnTap as a corporate business was formed in 2011, it was founded by a pioneer in the industry having installed and streamed one of the first webcams on the internet in 1995. Since its inception in November 2011, HDOnTap has streamed over 1 billion hours of live HD video to viewers all over the world on all devices including computers, smart phones (IOS & Android), tablets and TVs.
What is HDOnTap?
HDOnTap is the live webcam streaming and hardware division of IP Video Specialists, Inc. Our services provide clients with feature rich live webcam streaming services allowing an unlimited number of simultaneous viewers to enjoy the live video generated by your webcam.
What is included with HDOnTap’s webcam hardware solutions?
Depending on the hardware you order, all of the necessary items will be included - webcam, mount, enclosure and all the necessary cabling. All hardware is packaged and shipped to reduce potential transit damage and will arrive pre-configured, tested and ready for a simple self-install.
Having created one of the first webcams on the internet, HDOnTap’s founder has been pioneering the industry for over 22 years. Our business philosophy centers around effective solutions, innovative features and courteous customer service. Having built and deployed hundreds of customized webcam solutions , off-grid solar power systems and fixed wireless networks, HDOnTap has faced a wide and varied array of challenging live camera installations. Our experience in custom systems development is unrivaled and trusted by hundreds. Allow us to design, build and deploy the right live camera system - no matter the challenge.
Choosing The Right Camera
Besides resolution and frame rate, what other differences can be found in higher priced webcams and
Higher quality webcams, in general, are going to be better at compensating for low-light conditions or locations with both bright light and darker areas in the frame. They also typically have a higher quality lens and larger image sensor. This is important because no matter what the resolution is or how much interpolation is being applied, a low quality lens or smaller sensor will yield a lower quality image. Higher quality cameras often offer enhanced features including AAC audio compression, faster PTZ movement, better auto focus operation and electronic image stabalization (EIS).
In addition to resolution, what other specifications illustrate a webcam’s performance?
TFrame Rate, Field of View and Low light capabilities.
Frame rate - This figure is measured in frames per second or FPS. The faster the frame rate, the less choppy and more fluid a video image looks. Generally a frame rate of 30 fps yields great results. In applications with slower motion, lower frame rates can be set reducing the bandwidth required to stream live video.
Field of View – Depending on your subject, selecting a camera with the right field of view is important. Certain applications might required a camera with a very wide angle while others may require good zoom.
Low Light Capability – Depending on your location and the lighting, selecting a webcam with good low light capability will dramatically improve the video image quality.
Is an HD webcam better than a megapixel webcam or vice versa?
The term “High Definition” or HD can be misleading in that it actually describes a video format, primarily referring to the 16:9 aspect ratio. When it comes to streaming, HD or Megapixel webcams with resolutions greater than 1920x1080p are seen very often. Because of the higher data bit rates required with streaming high resolution video, resolutions greater than 1080p are not usually streamed. For this reason, spending the extra money on a webcam with better image quality would seem a better choice.
What cameras are compatible with your service?
All the major brand H.264 webcams including both fixed and pan/tilt /zoom cams are supported by HDOnTap’s network. - Axis, Sony, Samsung, JVC, Canon, Panasonic, Toshiba, Pelco, Ubiquiti, DLink, Arecont, Mobotix and IQInVision.
What is a fixed webcam?
A fixed webcam is a network camera mounted in one position and can only view the same area. The camera cannot be remotely controlled to change the view.
What is a high resolution megapixel webcam?
A megapixel webcam is a network camera with a resolution usually greater than 1920x1080 pixels. While it can produce images of a much higher quality and resolution than traditional webcams, live streams are usually limited to 1080p.
What is a PTZ webcam?
A PTZ webcam is a network camera that allows one to remotely pan, tilt and zoom the camera changing the view. They are desired in locations where a fixed view is not enough. The cameras can be setup with preset positions and programmed to automatically tour these presets or controlled remotely via a web interface or HDOnTap’s camera control interface.
Considering A Webcam
What are the advantages of a live video camera on my website?
An effective marketing tool, HD Live webcams are a proven method boosting traffic to both your website and destination – whether resort or attraction. While very popular now with the ski, surf, hospitality and attraction industries, our customers are finding new uses everyday for webcams.
What are the advantages of your service?
Innovative webcam streaming solutions, affordable webcam hardware packages and courteous customer service and support.
Why do I need to use HDOnTap’s webcam services?
While typical webcams can be setup to deliver video to the web, they lack the ability to deliver the video in a custom HTML5 player with features like social sharing, video ads, timelapse integration, full screen delivery, adaptive streaming, mobile streaming, snapshot sharing, embed security and custom website stream embedding. They also typically create bandwidth bottlenecks on your local network. With HDOnTap’s webcam streaming services, our network pulls a single high quality video stream from the camera then relays that live video stream to an unlimited number of simultaneous viewers. The cameras sites internet connection is only taxed with a single stream of bandwidth leaving HDOnTap’s network to carry the load.
Can I install the webcam myself?
Yes. HDOnTap can prepare the camera by pre-configuring it and getting it ready for easy self installation. If you have any issues during the installation, HDOnTap support representatives are available to help.
Do you offer installation services?
HDOnTap offers professional webcam, off-grid solar power and fixed wireless network installation services. We also ship webcam hardware packages pre-configured and ready for self-install making for an easy installation process. Self-install ready hardware packages require little to no technical skills - mount the camera and plug it in. If questions arise while doing the install, our support representatives are standing by ready to help.
Do you provide streaming analytics?
HDOnTap’s streaming services include live stream analytics. These stream analytic reports can be viewed online and / or received via email.
Do you support H.264 cameras?
Yes – Our network supports most all H.264 network IP cameras including those made by the following manufacturers - Axis, Sony, Samsung, JVC, Canon, Panasonic, Toshiba, Pelco, Ubiquiti, DLink, Arecont, Mobotix and IQInVision.
Do you support older MJPEG type cameras?
No, our network was designed and built around H.264 IP Network cameras. We do not support the older legacy type MJPEG cameras for the purpose of streaming. However, we do support MJPEG in our Studio Services for Camera Control.
Does your network support H.264 Video Hardware Encoders?
Yes – Our network supports most all H.264 Video Hardware Encoders allowing for RTMP push delivery or pulling the live stream via RTSP.
Does your network support Live Streaming Software?
Yes – Our network works with most all H.264 Live Streaming Software solutions including the following allowing for Authenticated RTMP push delivery of your live stream – HD or SD! Tri-Caster, Telestream Wirecast, Adobe Flash Media Encoder
Does your network support recording?
Yes – Our network is configured to support simultaneous server side recording of your live stream in either FLV or MP4 formats. The recordings can either be downloaded, scheduled to play during night time hours or streamed if your camera is offline.
How long does it usually take to get up and running?
HDOnTap usually stocks most webcam hardware. Depending on the hardware you choose and the shipping method, we can usually have you up and running within 2 to 7 days. If you already have a supported webcam installed, we can usually have you up and running the same day.
How many simultaneous viewers are able to watch my webcam?
HDOnTap’s network was built with both reliability and scalability in mind. The network is currently built to serve over 75,000 simultaneous viewers with the ability to turn up more capacity within minutes should the demand arise.
Is it a problem to move the webcam once it is installed?
No. You are free to move your webcam at any time to a different location provided the necessary power and network connection to your internet router are in place.
Should I be concerned with bad weather?
Inclement environmental conditions and weather are not a concern. Our patented camera enclosure systems are engineered for all environments – Rain/Snow/Ice/Dust/Salt - Extremely Hot, Extremely Cold and wet/damp coastal conditions. In fact, they clean themselves too!
What devices can I stream too?
HDOnTap’s network was designed and built to stream to virtually any device - Computer, Smart Phone / Tablet (IOS & Android), TV and Streaming Devices. (Roku, AppleTV, Boxee…)
What is needed to get started using HDOnTap’s service?
Dedicated internet service, a network connection between the camera and internet router (wireless or wired), power, an H.264 webcam and a location to mount the webcam.
What is required to get started using HDOnTap webcam services?
An H.264 network camera (webcam), a dedicated internet connection, a place to mount the webcam and a power source (utility or solar power) to power the camera.
What is required to host a live webcam at my location?
A typical camera installation requires four components – Power, Dedicated Internet, Network Connection and Mounting Location. An HDOnTap representative can assist with determining the most cost effective option for any of these components depending on your circumstances.
• Power – All webcam hardware solutions require power of some sort – either utility power or off-grid solar/wind. 24VAC, 115/230VAC and/or Power Over Ethernet are typical power delivery options. Whether a standard AC power receptacle is nearby the camera’s mounting location or not, low voltage, high voltage and off-grid power options exists.
• Dedicated Internet – A dedicated internet connection of at least 500Kbps upload speed is required to stream live video using HDOnTap’s services.
• Network Connection – A network connection from the camera to the internet router is required. This connection can be over wired Ethernet, WIFI or long range fixed wireless technology.
• Mounting –Whether mounting to an existing pole, wall, ceiling, parapet, on a rooftop or if no mounting surface exists, HDOnTap’s hardware solutions include mounting adapters to facilitate the installation. If your not taking advantage of our installation services, our hardware solutions are designed to be as simple as possible for self-install.
What is the difference between a static IP address and a dynamic IP address?
A static public IP address (The IP Address does not change) is provisioned by your ISP but sometimes costs more money per month. Working with a dynamic IP address that changes occasionally is doable if necessary.
What kind of internet connection is required?
A dedicated internet connection of at least 384Kbps upload speed preferably with a static public IP address if available is required. HDOnTap can work with a dynamic IP address if a static public IP address is not available.
What speed internet connection is required to stream live video?
Faster upload speeds equate to higher quality live video streaming. HDOnTap can setup your live video streaming service with a minimum of 384Kbps upload speed. Video resolution, video frame rate, compression and the amount of motion in the video are all factors that determine the required upload speed to support live video streaming. At 15 frames per second, the following internet upload speeds are typically required for the following video resolutions. 640x360 (360p) – 512Kbps, 800x450 (450p) – 768Kbps, 1024x576 (576p) – 1024Kbps / 1Mbps and 1280 x 720 (720p HD) – 1,536Kbps / 1.5Mbps.
Who monitors my webcam and live stream(s)?
HDOnTap’s managed webcam streaming services include webcam and network monitoring. Our monitoring servers are configured to monitor your webcam making sure it is online. If the camera goes offline, alerts are sent via email and/or text message to your cell phone letting you know an issue exists.
Understanding The Technology
How Does It Work?
The webcam is installed in the desired location, powered up, assigned a public IP Address and connected to a dedicated Internet connection. HDOnTap’s network maintains a full-time RTSP (real-time streaming protocol) connection with the camera pulling a single high-quality live stream then relaying that live stream through its distributed network of edge servers to an unlimited number of simultaneous viewers. Embedded within the customer's website is a single line of code (iFrame) which calls the HTML5 player which pulls the live stream from our edge delivery network via HLS/HTTP streaming.
What is a megapixel?
Simply put, megapixel means - one million pixels. To arrive at this figure, you multiply the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels. For example, a digital camera with a resolution of 1600x1200 would multiply to 1,920,000 pixels. Round that number up a bit and you get 2 million pixels or 2.0 megapixels.
What is a Webcam?
A Webcam is a camera that is available on the Internet enabling people to view live video or images from any location on the World Wide Web (WWW). While many people think of the small low-end USB type cameras that connect to a PC when they hear the term "webcam", there are many other kinds of webcam hardware. IP Network cameras are higher-end camera systems that do not require a PC or computer to operate.
What is HD?
Whether talking about TVs, camcorders or webcams, you may have heard the terms HDTV, HD, High Definition or Full HD used frequently. You may have also heard 720p, 1080i and 1080p used as well. The highest quality HD format is currently 2160p or Ultra HD.
To conform to this format, the picture must feature a “widescreen” aspect ratio of 16:9 and a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels (3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels). The “p” stands for “progressive scanning,” which describes the manner in which each sequential image is scanned or “painted” on the screen every 1/60th of a second. Blu-ray videos, for example, feature a 1080p picture. 1080i features the same resolution as 1080p, but the scanning is interlaced.
This means that when the screen changes images from one to the next, it “paints” the odd lines first and the even lines second. This yields an excellent picture, but some may notice a “shimmer” or “flicker” to the picture not present with progressive scanning. Presently, many high definition TV shows are broadcast in 1080i.
What is transcoding and adaptive streaming?
Not all devices or network speeds are the same. One of HDOnTap’s advanced streaming features includes pulling a single high quality HD live stream from the webcam then transcoding the live stream into multiple lesser quality live streams which are key frame aligned then streamed via adaptive streaming technology allowing the mobile device or flash player to automatically select the best quality stream depending on the internet connection speed – broadband or cellular.