Real-time streaming audio/video tools for Windows and Power Mac platforms

Real-time streaming audio/video tools for Windows and Power Mac platforms

June 5, 2002

Vivo Software has produced an enticing line of products designed for real-time audio and video on-demand. Both VivoActive Player and PowerPlayer deliver real-time audio and video content to the Web as plug-ins for Netscape (v2.x and later) or as ActiveX controls for Internet Explorer (v3.x and later). The freeware VivoActive Player will give you an idea of the possibilities that exist with Vivo's technology, but to realize its true potential you'll need to purchase the commercial PowerPlayer client ($12.95).

In addition to letting you save Vivo content, the PowerPlayer uses the proprietary H.263 video codec for enhanced video and Vivo's SIREN technology for high-fidelity audio. The freeware player is also limited by the lack of playback controls and program settings, whereas the PowerPlayer delivers an intuitive interface with playback controls, download status, content information, and an option for viewing video content double-size (twice its original size).

But where Vivo really shines is in its showcase development tool, VideoNow. The $149 VideoNow 3.0 is specifically designed for developers wanting to add basic or advanced on-demand video and/or audio feeds to their Web sites. The client's primary selling point is that it produces multimedia content optimized for streaming over the bandwidth of most modems.

VideoNow lets you take either an AVI or a QuickTime file and convert it to streamed video content (with compression ratios of up to 200:1) that can be served from any type of Web server. Or you can go the audio-only route by converting WAV or AIFF files into streamed audio content. In either case, the best aspect of all three production tools is that they are server independent, meaning that VivoActive content can be hosted on and streamed from standard HTTP (web) servers as well as specialized media servers like Microsoft NetShow, Netscape Live Media, and RealNetworks Real Media.

Overall, Vivo presents an audio/video streaming solution that nearly equals RealNetworks' RealPlayer, and it does so with the benefit to developers of not having to purchase a specialized server for delivering real-time multimedia content. While the VivoActive Player and VivoActive Production Tools lack support for RealFlash content (a critical feature of RealPlayer 5.0), the video content produced by Vivo is nearly on the same level as that of RealPlayer and the audio isn't too far behind.

RealPlayer takes the nod at this point for the reasons listed above and also because it sports a more advanced set of features, but Vivo definitely merits considerable attention. Developers especially will want to take a close look at Vivo for the fact that is one of the few streaming technologies available that allows you to serve real-time multimedia content from a standard Web server.

Pros: Excellent real-time A/V streaming capabilities without the need for specialized servers
Cons: Lacks some of the more advanced features of RealPlayer, quality lags behind RealPlayer
New: This is the initial review for VivoActive

Version Reviewed: Player - 2.1. VideoNow - 3.0
Date of Review: 12/1/98
Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud