NewTek Connect Spark Hands on Review

Dennis Washington - Streaming Idiots Facebook Group I'm now a bigger fan of NewTek than I was before Friday night. Used NewTek Connect Spark HDMI for the first time on our football broadcast Friday night... 99% solid. If you're looking for a reliable, inexpensive wireless video solution, this is the real deal. The antennas are omni, camera operator roamed the sideline, and his connection stayed solid nearly the entire game. Much better stability than what I experienced with our previous two wireless setups. Only hiccups was when camera op moved past mid-field towards the opposite sideline in post-game, which I believe was a symptom of the range of the WiFi network because the camera op and the sideline reporter told me they experienced dropped quality in our intercom program feed (details on that below.)
Used a ChargeTech AC-27K to power it... battery life was fantastic all night... plenty of juice left in the tank after a full football broadcast. Planning to try it in Normal Bandwidth mode in two weeks (will be out of town next Friday night with my wife celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary). I designed our IP WiFi network thanks to recommendations in this group and lots of research... using all Ubiquiti stuff:
  • EdgeRouter X - router
  • ES-24-Lite - gigabit switch
  • NBE-5AC-Gen2 (two) - transceivers to send and receive data to and from the press box and sideline
  • UAP-AC-HD (two) - WiFi access points in press box and sideline
Ubiquiti not exactly plug and play, but once you figure it out and get it configured, IT IS AWESOME. This secured WiFi network handles both the wireless NDI video from the Connect Spark AND our wireless intercom from Unity Intercom. Even if our WAN internet connection fails, both the intercom and the NDI work. So back to the WiFi range and quality issue... how do we go from 99% to 99.9%? My plan is to get at least one more NBE-5AC-Gen2 and UAP-AC-HD tripod... and put it on the opposite side of the field. The beauty of this Ubiquiti system is that it can easily expand from the current point-to-point setup to a point-to-multi-point setup. Bottom line: it's all about transmitting zeroes and ones... and this setup is doing a fantastic job of it. Conclusion: Best wireless I’ve tested so far. Not perfect, but best wireless. I want to do more testing over the next few weeks, especially in normal bandwidth mode and see how it compares to low bandwidth mode, but my bottom line observation is that it is as good as your WiFi Network. If you have a strong, professional WiFi network, NewTek Connect Spark will be great. If your WiFi network is basic and/or consumer grade, Spark will probably disappoint you as a roaming, wireless camera.

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