Chromebook as webcast receiving device

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
aclawson
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Chromebook as webcast receiving device

Postby aclawson » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:15 am

Has anybody played with a chromebook to be the webcast capture device?

There is an Acer on the market for $199 that comes with a Celeron processor, 2Gb of memory and 16Gb eMMC flash memory - more than enough to stream a video. Networking is wireless ac, but there is an USB 3.0 port for an ethernet connection to allow for a hardwired line. It has HDMI out and a 3.5mm jack for audio - certainly compatible with the current standards.

There is also an Asus Chromebox for $179 that includes a gigabit Ethernet port, wireless N, HDMI out, 4xUSB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone jack and wireless keyboard/mouse. Since it runs chrome and since the new webcast officially states that chrome is supported this would be everything that is needed for not much money, doesn't rely on members bringing their own systems (which always present a threat of some background process popping up a message during a stream or bring unwanted malware onto the church network).
Last edited by russellhltn on Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Correct title of thread.

russellhltn
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby russellhltn » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:34 pm

Capture or playback? Capture would be dependent on what the capture device supports. And I tend to doubt if there are any capture devices that support Chrome. Even if they did, the person I talked to at CHQ wasn't real positive on USB capture devices.

Now, if you're talking about playback, then that seems like a viable idea. There are a few issues: Will it work? Will it support the stats? Will it suddenly decide to update itself during playback? My suggestion would be to buy one from a place with a good return policy and do a test webcast and see if it works and you can see stats for the location. As well as checking for settings that will defer updates.
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aclawson
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby aclawson » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:57 pm

Playback, actually - I was in the mindset of capturing the stream to pass it along to the projector.

Probably aren't any ways to force an update check. I've never even touched a chromebook so I have less than zero knowledge of how they handle updates.

LeroyLehanoJr
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby LeroyLehanoJr » Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:28 pm

Chromebooks support NetFlix on Chrome OS. Since NetFlix uses Silverlight, you should be able to receive a webcast on one.

Automatic updates can be disabled, but only in developer mode. The other exception is, if it detects that it is connected via a [modern] tethered connection, it will not check for updates in order to conserve bandwidth. I mentioned modern because it has been reported that tethering to older midrange cell phones resulting in automatic updates occurring.

As mentioned above, buy one from a retailer that has a satisfaction guarantee.

randysteck
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby randysteck » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:52 am

We've been using Acer netbooks with the old 1.67GHz Atom processor in them for playback devices at two remote locations for the last 5 years. They are running Win 7 Starter edition. They work fine for SD webcasts, but we are not at all certain that they will scale to HD webcasts which we'd like to move to for quality reasons. SD loads the processor at about 40% as there is no hardware decoder. We've also tried booting Ubuntu linux on them and running VLC for the playback which seems to work just fine. But this is based on the old system and we have not yet tested them on the new portal.

We're using the ASUS Chromeboxes in our family history library and will have to try them out for playback as well.

ThomsonMA
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby ThomsonMA » Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:35 pm

We've been using a couple of Acer notebook PCs to receive our stake conference webcasts for several years. The hardware is still in pretty good shape because they don't get a lot of use, but they are now 7-8 years old and are running Windows Vista. I used them for our fall 2015 stake conference under the new webcasting system with pretty good results.

However, it's getting to be a real bear to deal with Windows Update when these machines connect to the network. (I know I can turn it off, but there is some value in having security patches applied.) One of my machines refuses to update and has become a bit wonky. I was figuring that I will need to replace these with something better this year.

I recently stumbled across an interesting alternative. There is a website that offers an easy download of an image that turns old PC devices into chromebook like devices. Here's a pointer to the site: http://www.neverware.com/ Their image is referred to as "Cloudready".

I had an old 60GB SATA notebook drive in my parts bin so I swapped that into one of my ASUS laptops and followed the procedure to load Chrome onto it. The whole process took less than two hours.

What I ended up with was a notebook that had a new snappiness to it. It boots much faster, connects to the network and comes up with a Chrome web browser. I used the Portal to schedule a receive test and was able to access it easily and play it with this chrome device. I think this has given some new life to some older devices. Since receiving the webcast only requires a contemporary browser, this seems to fit the bill quite well. I'll be testing it with a live test broadcast in the next week or so and hope to use it for our Stake Conference the end of this month.

For reference, the laptop I'm using is a dual core model with 3GB of memory.

russellhltn
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Re: Chromebook as webcast capture device

Postby russellhltn » Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:27 pm

ThomsonMA wrote:I recently stumbled across an interesting alternative. There is a website that offers an easy download of an image that turns old PC devices into chromebook like devices. Here's a pointer to the site: http://www.neverware.com/ Their image is referred to as "Cloudready".

You might want to read the licensing terms. It's free for "home and experimental use", but $59 for schools. I'm not sure where that leaves us for church use.

This is interesting times, because there's also low-powered Windows 10 "sticks" for $99.
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ThomsonMA
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Re: Chromebook as webcast receiving device

Postby ThomsonMA » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:49 pm

Point well taken.

If I were suggesting this for a system used daily for production work I think it would be an issue worth clarifying with the vendor.

Personally, I think use on a system twice a year for receiving a stake conference broadcast would meet the definition of "experimental use". I certainly feel like I'm doing an experiment every time I do one of these broadcasts. ;-)

russellhltn
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Re: Chromebook as webcast receiving device

Postby russellhltn » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:38 pm

ThomsonMA wrote:I certainly feel like I'm doing an experiment every time I do one of these broadcasts. ;-)

Touche. :)

But to advocate something on a church's sponsored forum, I like to see the "i's dotted and the "t"s crossed. Especially if you ever hope to have it officially supported. At $59 for lifetime/transferable license (assuming we'd qualify as a "school") that's still one of the cheaper ideas.
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Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

ThomsonMA
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Re: Chromebook as webcast receiving device

Postby ThomsonMA » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:24 pm

Just to follow up on this topic, we had our Stake Conference this past weekend, and I did use the Chrome laptop at one of my receiving sites.

It worked very well to receive the broadcast. However, I discovered that the Church infrastructure for the broadcast doesn't recognize Chrome as far as gathering receive statistics. From the monitoring web page it looked the same as, for example, an iPad.

So if monitoring the receive statistics is important to you, Chrome is probably NOT the way to go at this point.


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