Read all my reviews
Date: 21 Jan 2007, 16:09 UTC
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The best software out there to deliver your media to the world.
This software lets you do two things, it lets you watch what is known as internet TV streams, and it lets you create your own internet TV stream.
The viewable streams are not your run-of-the-mill junko streams like Comcast's CN8 network or C-Span, or NASA TV, all those streams that many programs here on Softpedia feature. Absolutely not. All of the streams in SOPcast are all user created and moderated and shows quality content you see on TV. Mostly, people use SOPcast (and its previous joint operation with TVUplayer) to watch and broadcast sporting events. So during the NFL season you can find all NFL games, and all throughout the year soccer, NBA, NHL, cricket, etc. are being shown on SOPcast. Sure, the quality isn't all that great since the user is distributing the content with their own upstream, but its better than nothing.
Now the streaming...which lets you stream your content to the world.
First off, by content, I mean any kind of media, whether it be a DivX movie you wish to show, or whether it be a radio stream, or a video stream, or the best of all, your own, home made, tv or radio stream.
Second off, if your intention is to stream your own live media, you need extra software outside of SOPcast to create the stream, all of which are free. You can use Windows Media Encoder (most popular), VLC, or even Orb. SopCast lets you stream files without the use of other programs.
OK, so there are three programs out there which stream stuff to the world. There TVUplayer, SOPcast and TVants. TVUplayer, everyone knows from the World Cup. The problem with TVUplayer is that its kind of complicated and not very user friendly. TVants, on the other hand, is very easy to work with and requires no signing up or any of that business. The problem with TVants is that you really wont get a great audience on it depending where you are. Here in the US, there arent many TVants users, so creating a TVants stream that only people in the US will enjoy won't get you much of an audience. There is audiences out there for streams in other countries, sure, but you have to target the right audience :P. SopCast, on the otherhand, I have found to be a bit more universal. Create a stream anywhere and itll get an audience.
The other positive with SopCast is that it seems to be a bit more receptive to more stream types. I have found that TVants and TVUplayer work best (let alone at all) only if an mms:// stream link is provided. SopCast on the otherhand seems to work find with mms://, rtsp://, http://. Then include that with the fact that streaming a file with SopCast doesnt require any extra software, and it makes for an awesome program.
They update the program on a kind-of-monthly schedule it seems. So it at least is up to date.
This new version (1.1.0) includes better channel sorting methods and shows channel signal quality in the channel list, as well as the ability to add channels to a Favorites list.
Are there negatives of SopCast? Sure. To broadcast, you need to signup for an account. Sure, the account is free, and sure, you dont even need an account to VIEW channels. The negative of it all is the signup process. Not too long ago there was a quake off the coast of Taiwan, which apparently crippled network infrastructure from Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. So this made an already SLOW SopCast website even slower. So the signup process, which was slow and painful to begin with was made even slower. I would expect that by now the network infrastructure is fixed, but if the SopCast website is any indication I would have to say it isnt.
The official forums are slow as hell, slower than the SopCast website. It is very hard to get anything posted there for help or anything. I suggest people use the SopCast forum at MyP2P forums ( http://www.myp2p.eu/forum/viewforum.php?id=8 ), which is must faster and will net you a reply faster (as there are more active helpful people).
The options are limited. I wish they would put some more options in the options window.
There are two buttons at the bottom of the program, Sub. and Apply. They both do the same thing, which is lead to the SopCast documentation website. I don't that is the intended function :P.
Unlike TVants, SopCast doesn't show the audience size in the program. Sure, if you are a broadcaster, you can login and manage your channel using the management webpage, a page which shows you the audience size. But all you get in the program is a nice little decimal value, which is the product of some unknown function (unknown to everyone except the developers) which incorporates the size of the audience, the source quality of the stream, the network quality of the stream, and probably a few other unknown factors. The highest I've ever seen the value is around 0.52 while running a channel with an audience of 2500 people.
Well, I'm going to get back to streaming if you don't mind :).
I suggest you check out this program, and if you like what you see, you should consider streaming stuff to SopCast as well, whether it be TV, radio or just an archive of movies. Remember, TV requires a TV tuner card or some sort of capture card :).