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Old July 31st, 2017, 06:14 PM   #1
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laptop with lots of USB 3

I'm looking to build a portable multicam streaming system that can take 4 cameras. will use the Epiphan USB gadgets, so need a laptop with 4 USB 3 ports that has the computing power to handle 4 HD streams coming in and an HD stream going out. I have an Alienware 17 with Nvidia 1070 and i7 with 3 USB 3 ports which I'll test it on, but looking for recommendations for another laptop that will be a standalone multicam streaming system.
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Old July 31st, 2017, 06:40 PM   #2
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Hi Charlie,

Make sure you look at the HP Z Book series. B & H had the best deal at the time. Mine is probably well over two years old now and going strong. It is a 17" monster I call The Beast. It is a true work station in a lap top package. It is heavy, durable, and well made in every way. Your not going to get thin and light with what you want. I paid dearly for it as I specked it to be high end and I would do it again tomorrow. I have 16 gigs of ram and another 8 gigs on the dedicated video card. Of my 4 USB ports I think 3 of them are 3.0, The forth one might not be because it provides 5V power at all times. I can't look right now. I'll bet you can get 4 USB 3 if you want them. I have thunderbolt on it too. I also have a nice docking station for it so I have more USB 3 and other ports than I will ever need. Great computer.

Kind Regards,

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Old July 31st, 2017, 08:57 PM   #3
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Have you thought about just using a USB3 hub? Most laptops (and desktops, for that matter) don't have one bus per USB port, so you're basically using a USB hub anyway.
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Old July 31st, 2017, 11:56 PM   #4
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Have you thought about the Roland switcher. By the time you pay for three Epiphan usb. (you still need to buy one) won't cost that much more. You could also buy a battery to power it. Here's the link for the Roland. https://proav.roland.com/global/products/v-1hd/
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Old August 1st, 2017, 02:13 AM   #5
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

The ATEM switcher is also very neat and runs a lot cheaper than a Roland I think ...only thing that bugs me is that you have no HDMI out to go to an encoder, only SDI but the Roland doies have HDMI out too!!

If you use your laptop with the built-in Quick Sync or NVENC and then use a Teradek to do the streaming it's amazing what you can use for broadcasts! We run a Dell 6420 (i7 DuoCore 2.7ghz ) and can easily run 3 cams on it ( 1 x HDMI and two USB) and still record on the laptop as well.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 08:59 AM   #6
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Keep in mind that multiple USB3 ports may be on the same bus and the bus bandwidth can become over saturated.

I think SDI out of a switcher is far better than HDMI in most cases. Blackmagic, Epiphan, Magewell all make "dongles" for either HDMI or SDI (to USB3 or Thunderbolt depending on the manufacturer) for similar prices. Given the same price, I'd much prefer SDI as it's more secure and easier to do a longer cable run if you have to.

If the computer has Thunderbolt, Blackmagic has a single device that supports both HDMI and SDI to Thunderbolt for about $140 US called the Blackmagic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder. This is less expensive than either HDMI or SDI to USB3 by Magewell or Epiphan at over $300 US.

The Mini Recorder is prefect for taking a feed from an ATEM switcher and sending to Telestream Wirecast which will allow you to stream to multiple destinations at the same time as well as do a local recording.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 11:09 AM   #7
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

I use V-Mix mixer in my laptop (MSI). Because I sometimes have several camera inputs and sometimes additional inputs. I use a USB3.0 hub and carry a backup hub for security. My hubs work VERY well but they are old and I am sure that better hubs are available now. Magewell makes very dependable HMDI to USB3.0 and SDI to USB3.0 adapters (dongles) that also work very well. Just plug in the cables and they work. Pricey!
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Old August 1st, 2017, 11:39 AM   #8
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

I have a high end dell laptop with 2 usb 3 ports but honestly what you're describing seems like too much to ask of any laptop.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 12:23 PM   #9
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

I would agree that the issue may be more about USB bus bandwidth than available ports, if the USB ports are sharing the same bus.

Have you heard of NDI from Newtek? It is a Video Over IP technology from that can be freely licensed by any company, so NDI is very quickly gaining wide acceptance. vMix and OBS software are using NDI, and Panasonic is even adding NDI to its new PTZ camera line!

Here's my thought - convert the HDMI from cameras to NDI. Newtek just introduced the Connect Spark, which is a small box that converts an HDMI input into NDI, which then travels over the local network. The "network" could be your own $50 hub connected to laptop, with multiple NDI sources connected to this private LAN. The Spark boxes are $495 each, so a little more costly than HDMI capture dongles, but the prospect of running simple Cat-6 cable from multiple cameras into an ethernet hub to build your own video network is pretty enticing!

Depending on distance of cameras from your laptop, NDI could really be a big help, eliminating long HDMI runs. Use existing building network or run your own inexpensive Cat-6 cables. You would not need any capture dongles, as all camera sources would come into laptop over the ethernet port. I replied to another post the other day in which the poster wanted to record/stream 4 simultaneous seminars with 4 cameras located in 4 different rooms. Imagine just connecting each camera to an existing ethernet jack in the wall and being able to pick those NDI video signals up from anywhere else in the building without running any video cabling? Throw a TriCaster into the mix and use Newtek NDI/HX PTZ cameras, and you'd have video AND remote camera control (for all cameras) from a central location. Mind-boggling potential.

You could use the vMix software on the laptop as your software switcher for the 4 NDI sources, and encode for streaming from vMix for example. No dongles, no HDMI cable runs, no USB bus saturation issues.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 12:59 PM   #10
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

For the record...I am a hardware switcher guy. Even though I have a robust lap top i would not be comfortable feeding it multiple camera sources via USB. I probably should have made that clear in my first post. I agree with several of the comments above. Here is the link to another thread in this section where several of us discuss switchers: Hardware Switcher Information

Jeff, I like the concept of NDI. I do NOT like using CAT 5/6 in a live show environment for long runs, especially with a large audience in the room. To me, it is a cheap data cable based on old telephone technology. By cheap I mean fragile. It is not robust enough for live show venue work. I have seen it fail more than once with devastating results.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old August 1st, 2017, 01:00 PM   #11
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Get tactical CAT6 cable. The jacket is thicker and more flexible than normal CAT cable.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 01:08 PM   #12
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

great responses from all. here's my take on your takes...
1. USB 3: contrary advice - someone warns that multiple ports may be on the same bus while others say use a hub, which would certainly all be on the same bus. so does anyone else have experience with putting multiple HD 1920 video through a hub, and streaming for hours?
2. hardware switcher. I actually bought a Roland but returned it because I need to have a logo bug onscreen at all times, and the only way to do it with the Roland is by attaching a computer. my original idea was to avoid having a computer but there's no hardware-only solution.
3. BM mini recorder. I got one but could not get my Alienware PC with thunderbolt to see the device through the BM driver. works fine with a Macbook though. value of the Epiphans is that they don't need a driver, they just work with any computer via USB 3. lots of people complain about blackmagic drivers being flaky.
4. what about iMacs? they have 4 USB 3 + 2 thunderbolts -- anyone using one for multicam switching?
5. NDI. yes this is very intriguing. when I was playing with Livestream Studio yesterday, I noticed one choice for source inputs was "NDI (Adobe Premiere Pro" and chose that one. immediately I got the program out from another editor on the network. and it wasn't even set up to be NDI. whatever he did showed up as a source. def worth pursuing for getting video into a software switcher.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 02:05 PM   #13
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

One thing I noticed with my laptop. I bought two Elgato HD HDMI/USB but could only get the laptop to recognise one. Must have been some conflict. Bought Avermedia HDMI/USB so now I can get two streams in. I also tried two plus WiFi from my Sony PXW X70 for three cameras but this proved too much.
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Old August 1st, 2017, 06:57 PM   #14
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

NDI sounds really interesting. Apart from USB cameras and using HDMI>USB capture units we also have used LIve Stream's Broadcaster on the camera to send data to the software switcher wirelessly. It only works with Live Stream Studio of course but it is quite neat ...I have used it for local broadcasts over wifi so obviously wouldn't use that at a paid event but what I do notice is that if you connect with wifi from a camera in the next room, your CPU usage goes up significantly! I can run a couple of USB cameras and the CPU usage is pretty low but if I connect just one remote camera it jumps up drastically!

Would an NDI connection have very much the same result as it streams video and audio into the switcher or might it be less demanding on the CPU?
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Old August 2nd, 2017, 08:38 AM   #15
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Re: laptop with lots of USB 3

Three or four HD cameras at once HDMI to USB dongle simultaneously into one streaming lap top....have I done it? No, because I would not trust it. I would have to have a lot of time in testing the system before I would trust it. Also, this year I was seeing a lot of adds for Epiphian dongles that were Facebook only or YouTube only.....Really??? How limiting is that.

There are ways to find out if all of your USB ports are going to a single feed on your motherboard or not. I researched it years ago on an IBM Think Pad. I pursued there tech support with the question until I got someone who told which connections were indeed separate.

Roland makes a lot of nice switchers. Including ones with a still store that can be your logo bug.

My BMD Intensity Shuttle is a useless POS. So is the software you use it with. For signal conversions I love my Decimator. It will do almost anything I need. Mine does not have USB 3 output but I bet they make one that does. I also like Aja dongles. Thats how I use pro gear and avoid BMD.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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