Almost every device we tested also has an HDMI output connector. Some need this connector for device setup, while others offer local monitoring through the HDMI connector. Audio can be output over the same HDMI connector and, in some cases, via the analog audio connectors.
But not every connector on the devices is functional. For instance, on the Epiphan Webcaster X2 (Figure 1, field-tested on Streaming Media Producer), the company’s site notes that “the AV, TF (SD card), and optical audio ports on Webcaster X2 are not used."
On the network front, all of the devices have an Ethernet port for hard-wired connectivity. We recommend this approach, because Wi-Fi can be notoriously finicky when it comes to trying to use the same Wi-Fi access point to send the origin stream and monitor the same stream coming back into the venue.
The two smaller devices, the Epiphan Webcaster X2 and the not-yet-shipping (as of mid-July 2018) Magewell Ultra Stream HDMI , both have Wi-Fi connectivity. Only the Webcaster X2 has a reverse SMA connector, allowing an external antenna to boost Wi-Fi signal strength. The Ultra Stream also has Bluetooth connectivity, although it appears to be used only for initial setup and for monitoring the device during streaming.
Each device also has at least one USB 2.0 port, which is required to hook up a keyboard, mouse, or combination of the two. Some devices have as many as three USB ports: one for a USB mouse, one for a keyboard, and a third for a variety of beta features.
While a few of the devices have Bluetooth, which some of these devices use for setup and monitoring, we suggest you follow this rule of thumb if you’re not intimately familiar with a specific SFFE: Carry a wireless mouse/keyboard with a USB dongle to connect for setup and other administrative functions. Connecting via a USB dongle allows both a mouse and keyboard to be used across a single USB connector, freeing up any additional USB ports for recording or other tasks, as well as avoiding any pairing or signal interference with Bluetooth.
This is especially helpful with the second generation of SFFE units, which eliminate all but one USB connector and use a microSD card for recording...read more