Live webcams have become a popular marketing tool. With so many different options available, it can be a stressful and challenging process to find the best solution for your business. Start by choosing hardware that meets your unique needs based on variable including camera type, placement, movement and environment. Let's explore four factors to consider before purchasing your webcam hardware:
Type of Webcam
Basic VS IP Network Webcam
There are two types of webcams: (1) basic webcams, made by Microsoft, Logitech, HP, etc., and (2) IP Network Webcams, also known as network cameras. Basic webcams are not a good choice to stream 24/7, high quality, real-time video as they are typically intended for video chat and only work if they are connected to a computer. IP Network Webcams, specifically H.264 cameras, can be placed anywhere on an IP network and do not require a computer. These cameras can be used wirelessly and are the industry standard in live webcam streaming.
- Need assistance choosing the best camera for your needs? HDOnTap is happy to help!
Fixed VS PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom)
Do you want your live stream to feature one static view or have the ability to display various angles and vantage points? This is the decision you are making when you choose between a fixed and PTZ camera. Fixed cameras only allow for a single angle and must be manually adjusted. PTZ cameras can be remotely controlled or setup on a tour to auto move between preset locations or views which allows for coverage of numerous scenes.
- Use a PTZ camera and HDOnTap's streaming service to create a customized preset tour of the views you would like to broadcast. Share your favorite viewing angles at the speed and duration of your choosing.
High Definition Clarity
User expectations for resolution of live video feeds are increasing, partially due to adoption of high definition TV in broadcast television and overall broadband availability to a greater number of viewers. In most situations, a 720p (1280x720 pixel resolution) webcam is sufficient to provide a clear HD live stream, however 1080p (1920x1080 pixel resolution) webcams are the most popular choice these days. There are several higher resolution options up to UltraHD/4K (3820x2160 pixel resolution) but these higher resolutions require significantly more bandwidth to stream live. For these higher resolutions, we suggest taking advantage of HDOnTaps adaptive bitrate streaming services.
- While image quality is influenced by the webcam's resolution, the sharpness of focus and lighting conditions also come into play. HDOnTap can assist you with finding the best setup for your camera based on these factors.
Indoor VS Outdoor
Not all webcams are weatherproof! It is important to make sure your webcam is either weather proof or it is integrated into the proper enclosure to keep destructive elements at bay, including bugs, moisture, rain, salty air and dirt or debris. Enclosures or Camera Housings should also provide appropriate conditions inside the housing to keep your hardware in an ideal environment. Look for features including circulation fans, temperature regulation, non-corroding or rust-proof materials and secure mounting hardware.
- Take advantage of outdoor enclosure systems designed for all environments by X Stream Designs (HDOnTap's sister company). X Stream Designs manufactures specialty enclosures for moderate to extreme conditions, including a patented self-cleaning dome.
Your live streaming solution is more than just a camera! Let's explore other types of hardware that you may need to create the network infrastructure that will support your webcam:
Connecting Devices to Each Other
Switches are used to create a network, and allow connected devices to "talk" to each other. Network switches can also provide power to a device via "PoE" - power over ethernet cabling. Switches can either be managed or unmanaged, which refers to configuration options available (including controlling data flow, monitoring and access).
- Not all network switches are created equally! Even if you already have a switch in your network infrastructure, it may not be the proper type of switch for your live streaming solution. HDOnTap can review your existing configuration to determine the appropriate switch for your unique needs.
Connecting Networks to the Internet
Routers are used to connect networks. With regard to live streaming, a router is used to connect a network of devices (created using a switch) with the internet. Just like the webcam, there are two types of routers available: residential/consumer-grade and enterprise/professional-grade.
- The type of router determines what can be managed from within the router, including dynamic DNS, network address translation and monitoring the status of the internet circuit. In many cases, a professional-grade router is preferred.
There are several options to extend the size of your network beyond its existing boundaries, or to connect multiple networks together. Fiber, coax and Cat5 are all solutions that use physical cabling. Wireless bridges can also be used to extend networks or connect them together over WiFi (instead of long lengths of cable).
- Wireless bridges are an excellent solution for many wildlife or remote live streams and are also a very cost-effective way to overcome a lack of networking infrastructure!