Video streaming hardware and software: Which one is right for me?

live video streaming

How do you stream videos? Surprisingly, a smartphone contains a whole streaming setup in terms of hardware, and even most of the software you need. Plus, the websites that allow you to stream live videos usually have apps that allow you to stream them directly from your smartphone.

Raw, uncompressed video files are huge data behemoths. Although, you can watch movies or use streaming video device setup through your normal internet connection in high-definition due to the data being encoded. Encoding is part confining and part producing a video to make it accessible by producing compatibility with as many devices as possible.

The Meaning of Encoders:

Encoders are devices that convert video files from one format to another. They can be either hardware or software-based. Encoders are crucial for your camera to produce streamable digital files for converting the RAW video files.

Streaming Software:

Software encoders are uniquely designed programs which operate on computing devices, like a desktop computer or laptop etc. They have specific features and skills to update user streams to analyse each platform.

Generally, software encoders in popular streaming and recording suites will have an equivalent, or similar, options. They are programs that run on your laptop, desktop computer, or another computing device.

There are several perks to using a software encoder. They are typically very easy to line up, and you will tweak or change most aspects of the codecs to attain the bit rate and video quality you require. You can easily update encoding software when a replacement version or upgrade is out there.

  • Video Quality

Software encoders offer great content quality, and here, users can change or tweak most of the aspects related to codecs. It helps them to regulate video quality and bit rate to obtain better results.

  • Pricing

Some of the most important things to software encoders is their ability to serve with easy customization, as per user needs, and you will be glad to know that these tools are available at a comparatively low price range. There are tons of software encoders accessible over the internet, and you can also get some of them for free.

Streaming Hardware:

Hardware encoders are committed processors which use a designed algorithm to encode data and video into streamable content. These encoders are available both in  smaller, portable boxes and bigger, permanent fixtures.

It is possible to purchase a hardware encoder, particularly for streaming and recording. Hardware encoders can be used to compress files. It will help you to convert your data into an appropriate format.

Hardware encoders are often small, cheaper devices which will have a particular purpose; streaming to at least one destination, like YouTube or Twitch for instance. They can also be more heavy-duty, with the choice to receive many different video input types and allow you to stream to numerous platforms.

  • Video Quality

These encoders are commonly employed by professionals, thanks to their awesome video quality. It has fixed non-adjustable, yet impressive, video quality. Note that hardware encoders take longer in development or design manufacturers often add older codecs into them.

  • Pricing

Efficiency and price point are two significant factors which fit into the comparison table of hardware and software encoders. You won’t get a hardware encoder free of charge, like software encoders, but you can purchase one for as low as $100.

Which Is Better?

There is no “one size fits all” solution when it involves video streaming hardware vs software. As you have learned by now from this blog, the answer comes down to “it depends what you want to do”.

With streaming software, you get lots of flexibility to line up the stream exactly the way you would like it. If you are trying to find a live streaming setup that’s set up out of the box, then a hardware setup could be better for you. The best way to choose the hardware box is based on your needs.


We hope we were able to help you understand the world of video streaming hardware and software a little better. When it comes to deciding which setup to go with, the truth is that it depends on each individual. If you have any more queries, just give us a call on 1300 016 017 for video device support services.

The best fit encoder can be selected based on desired features, specifications and budget range. Hardware encoders are considered a reliable option because of their dedicated operations; whereas the performance of software encoders is extremely dependent upon the computer in which they are installed.

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