VBrick adds Windows Media support

VBrick is looking to make the delivery of streaming media easier for users already using TV and DVD-quality video in their corporate networks.

At this week's NetWorld+Interop 2001 in Atlanta the company will announce VBXcoder, a new hardware/software combination for converting DVD- and TV-quality video to the Windows Media streaming format on the fly.

VBX takes MPEG2 video and encodes it into the Windows Media Format for any delivery speed up to 384K bit/sec, making it better suited for dial-up, Cable and DSL users. Each VBX-equipped server will be able to transcode one MPEG2 stream at a time and serve some 1,000 users at a time, depending on hardware configuration and the bandwidth used per stream.

VBXcoder's release will expand VBrick's reach beyond corporate networks and into Internet streaming. Previously, the company focused on delivering DVD-quality MPEG2 video across a corporate network using IP Multicast to help save bandwidth. Digital TV broadcasts are based on MPEG2. The problem is streams of digital quality, which typically require at least a megabyte per second of bandwidth, are not suited for streaming across lower-bandwidth Internet connections.

Normally, content providers need to keep multiple copies of the same content to serve different users connecting at different speeds. Without a transcoder in place, users would have to create an MPEG2 version and a Windows Media version of their content. "[With VBXcoder], users will not need to keep multiple copies of the same content," says Rich Mavrogeanes, founder and president of VBrick. "They can keep content in high-quality MPEG2 and transcode it on the fly to the Internet user at a lower bit rate."

Mavrogeanes says the Windows Media format was selected because Windows Media Player is shipped with every new Windows machine. There are no plans to add support for Real or QuickTime, the other two major streaming media formats.

The company's VBrick devices can be set up next to a Web server in front of the Internet connection. Each device serves a MPEG2 stream to every desktop in the company. Video can come from a DVD player, cable or satellite system.

VBXcoder runs on Windows 2000 and costs US$3,000. It can also be preinstalled on a 1.7 GHz dual-Pentium server that is 1U (1.75 inches) high for US$10,000.

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