Magewell Capture Cards Enable ‘Support-Free’ Video Connectivity for West Pond Enterprises
The OEM Customer: West Pond Enterprises
The Challenge: Easy-to-use, Linuxbased video capture for television headend systems
The Solution: Magewell Pro Capture and Pro Capture Mini cards
End-User Benefits: Plug-and-play video input connectivity, 100% reliability
OEM Benefits: Easy integration with SDK, excellent support, freedom to focus on own software
Headquartered an hour outside of Boston in Hudson, Massachusetts, West Pond Enterprises develops products that enhance or enable in-house cable TV, RF and IPTV networks for markets including hospitality, digital signage and public/education/government (PEG) organizations.
West Pond's headend transmission solutions create new channels – or add HTML5-based media and graphics to existing channels – by capturing, streaming, augmenting, encoding and transmitting content on customers' private TV networks. The company's flagship MX-400 family of headend systems is available in a variety of application-optimized models for datacasting, stadiums, educational institutions, sports bars, restaurants and more.
West Pond initially sought a reliable, Linux-based capture card for their First Responder datacasting solution, which leverages over-the-air, digital television broadcast infrastructure to securely deliver live video and data to authorized public safety personnel without overloading cellular networks. High reliability was an obvious requirement given the mission-critical nature of the system, and making video connectivity simple and effortless was also important.
"The video interconnect to our systems must be as plug-and-play as possible, with users not having to worry about signal formats and compatibility," said Steve Hastings, President and CEO of West Pond Enterprises. "Anything less blemishes the overall functionality of the device, and could lead to higher technical support requirements. Our ability to support a variety of Linux kernels and hardware architectures is also important to us, so it too was a factor in our capture card selection."
West Pond learned of Magewell's Pro Capture family of PCI Express capture cards at the InfoComm Show, and found them to be a good fit. Furthermore, as the MX400 product line migrated from its original 2RU chassis to a more compact 1RU format, the cards' low-profile form factor enabled valuable space savings.
West Pond now uses up to three Pro Capture cards in MX-400 units, depending on the particular system configuration. Customers typically capture 1920x1080 or 1280x720 HD video from devices including cameras, media players and computers. Most MX-400 configurations are equipped with HDMI and analog component connectivity, while the stadium-targeted MX-400ST also offers HD-SDI inputs. The automatic input signal detection capabilities of the Magewell cards help West Pond achieve its goal of plug-and-play ease of use.
"We rely on Magewell's products to provide 'support-free' connectivity to our customers' video sources," explained Hastings. "Users simply connect their devices to our products, and our software processes the captured video to meet their needs, without them having to think about the technical details."
West Pond again turned to Magewell when designing its new FlexStream MX-100 Channel Creator product, which launched in early 2018. Designed for price-sensitive venues not requiring the full premium functionality of the MX-400 line, the MX-100CC is an all-in-one channel creation and distribution device that combines multiple live and prerecorded video sources into a single transport stream for delivery to TVs or IPTV set-top boxes. The compact MX-100CC can also combine a live video stream with HTML5 media to create a custom channel for restaurants, senior living facilities, hotels, theaters, hospitals, corporate offices, health clubs and more.
"For the small size of the MX-100CC, we needed a capture solution in the Mini PCIe form factor with reasonably low power consumption, and pricing was even more important for this product than for our other solutions," recalled Hastings. "Magewell's Pro Capture Mini HDMI was uniquely perfect for our needs.
West Pond found the process of integrating the Magewell line straightforward, and the reliability of the cards flawless. "Our developers are very happy with Magewell's SDK and robust Linux drivers," praised Hastings. "And from a reliability standpoint, we're 100% satisfied; we've never had an issue.”
West Pond was also pleasantly surprised by their experience in working with Magewell distributor Mobile Video Devices (MVD). "Initially we dealt directly with Magewell, and when MVD became the local representative we were concerned about the addition of a middleman," said Hastings. "But the experience has turned out to be exceptional. MVD has gone above and beyond in their support of West Pond, and always represents us quickly in our interactions with Magewell."
In addition to the behind-the-scenes benefits that the use of Magewell products has brought to West Pond, the customer-facing advantages are even more valuable to the company. "The integration of Magewell capture cards into our solutions ensures our customers experience the superior quality they have come to expect from West Pond Enterprises," Hastings summarized. "We are a small company and want to focus on our software, not debugging interconnect issues our customers may have with various devices and video sources. The Magewell products enable us to do that.”