Here’s a list of things that software-only encoding solutions have in their favor: quality and ubiq- uity. Choose any two. But when it comes to the
speed of encoding and delivery, especially around
low-latency encoding, sometimes software-only encoding solutions just don’t cut it. The same might
also be said for high frame rate (HFR), high dynamic
range (HDR), or even 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD)
This Buyers’ Guide on encoder appliances will ex-
plore the tradeoffs between hardware and software
encoding solutions, hopefully empowering readers
to more easily determine which solution suits their
The Hardware vs. Software Dilemma
In the early days of streaming, every format and codec was defined by its capability to deliver on-demand
content in one of three ways: file downloads, progressive downloads, or streaming.
File downloads were fairly straightforward: a video
file needed to be fully downloaded before playback
could begin. On the other hand, progressive download
files could start playing the content after a certain
Sometimes software-only solutions just don’t cut it.
Here’s how to choose the right hardware when you need it.
By Tim Siglin