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March 27, 2008

Flixwagon vs Qik

by Matthew

Last night, like a good dad, I took my daughter to the Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Despite the content it was better than expected. The wife and I played around with Flixwagon and Qik. We used two Nokia N95-3 and were sitting together with only a seat between us (daughter has to sit next to both of us after all). From these videos you can see Flixwagon does a better job of keeping the original quality.

The Nokia N95-3 is capable of 640x480 30fps video and in hindsight I should have recorded a short clip using the native video application, because I did not the best I have are a few images. In each case QIK and Flixwagon were set to "Best" quality. We have T-Mobile USA, so only EDGE is available and we were not able to use any of the "open" Wi-Fi APs. Both Qik and Flixwagon operated as they should have without any errors. Both queued and continue to upload video long after we stopped recording. In my case I think I overloaded the N95 by using Jaiku, tethering with the N810 while Flixwagon continued to upload in the background likely causing the N95 to completely freeze, calling for a battery pull. Despite this battery pull, no video was lost and continued to upload as soon as I launched Flixwagon. Flixwagon gives no indication of upload status, not even whether or not it is uploading while Qik displays a delay counter. Both applications continued to send twitter notices long after the video was shot saying we each were streaming live. One of my videos was over 10 minutes obviously taking some time to upload. While uploading Flixwagon did display the video and continued playing as more of the original video upload completed. Both Flixwagon and Qik have noticeable audio drop outs. Both N95 used the regular built-in Mic and the environment was quick loud (and many octaves too high, ouch!).

During these videos the glare of the overhead lights on the ice makes it nearly impossible to see any of the actual show. Instead focus on the LCD/Projection at the rear of the ice rink and other visible details. In all the video this area is much clearer and even readable despite the distance at which it was recorded.

On a side note I recently had the opportunity to speak with Xen Mendelsohn from MyFrame the developers of Flixwagon, this interview will be available in the next day or two. I haven't yet had the opportunity to speak with the folks over at Qik, but I would welcome the opportunity (should they read this). From these examples I would say you will see a better quality video from Flixwagon, not to mention their site is open for registration while Qik is mostly closed. If you want to see the sample images and videos be sure to keep reading.

QIK using Nokia N95-3 More Samples

Flixwagon using Nokia N95-3 More Samples

Photo using Nokia N95-3 (click for hi-res)

High School Musical: The Ice Tour

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Comments

Grant

I was able to sign-up for Qik and got an invite pretty fast. Flixwagon says they're having issues with their registration system now, so I'm still waiting. Hoping to try them both too.

Michael @ Qik

Thank you for using Qik! We'd love to speak with you, and especially get your feedback -- it's all good :)

We'll be at CTIA next week - if you're going to be there, maybe we can catch up for a chat?

It's a bit of a challenge to compare, but my observations about the videos are:
- the Qik video is zoomed out more, which can affect the perception of a number of things, like the silver scaffolding on the stage, which just appears smaller (so you won't see as much detail there in this shot). It also affects the auto-exposure of the camera; you should be able to get a better exposure of the stage with any service on those cameras if you can get the super-bright areas to take up more of the view-finder, so that the camera adjusts the exposure accordingly. In Qik, just hit "up" on the directional pad to zoom in a notch or two and fill the screen with your subject.

- Scaling differences aside, I think the detail overall is significantly sharper in the Qik video -- take a look at the detail in the crowd; the dark, detailed areas above the stage; the lights (especially pixelation around bright flashes), etc.

The 10-second clip is a little hard to evaluate, but here's a longer one from your Qik page: http://qik.com/video/43051 -- things like the fireworks, and the smoke wafting through the rafters really stand out as good demonstrations of clarity.

We think Qik video quality is second to none (and there are examples of Qik videos that we feel are of substantially higher quality than anything yet seen from any other service), but Qik also gives users the tools to reduce the bit-rate when appropriate, so that you can fit your live experience into whatever connection you happen to have at the moment, and share it with your viewers in real time through the truly-live on-screen chat. This focus on live interaction is a significant part of the Qik experience.

With that, I'll leave you with my favorite video of the week: Burt the Dog's Hockey Predictions :)
http://qik.com/video/42940

cheers,
Michael @ Qik

Matthew

@Michael, Thanks for your comments. just answer your one theroy that one camera was zoomed in while the other was not. neither camera used any zoom, we were going for a wide angle shot of the action. I'd agree it is not an idea test environment for such a video comparison. When we took the video I wasn't taking them to write this blog post. it was when we arrived home, went online and saw the clear difference that I realized this should be shared. I'd also agree in some aspects Qik did caputre details better but overall both the wife, a graphic artic by trade and myself agreed without a doubt that the flixwagon video was sharper and retained more of the original detail. Comparison is hard, it is subjective and conditions can change the results. So to be fair to both Qik and flixwagon, I will do another comparison under completely difference lightening condition, regular daylight and an indoor with typical lightening. Michael, I won't be at CTIA but my partner in crime, Darla will be.

phairest

Gotta disagree with ya here, IMHO the Flixwagon stream is inferior. Coloration is FUBAR- hue's off, bleeding all over the place, plus low saturation. And, well, is 'blocky-ness' a word? You don't even have to play the FW video to see it.

There are a couple other things worth mentioning in the equation though. Flixwagon allows fullscreen viewing while Qik does not, but Qik allows live chat while Flixwagon does not. All things considered, I use Qik.

(fullscreen viewing with Qik would make this call easier though Michael!)

Matthew

@phairest At the time of this test I do think Flixwagon's video was better however, since then Qik has improved and surpassing Flixwagon's narrow lead. this is especially true when looking at the video at maximum resolution (640x480). The lead isn't so much Flixwagon couldn't catch up but it appears as thought Qik is making better progress in their development between the two alpha releases.

phairest

@Matthew oic, interesting. Well may the best (hmm what are we calling these things?...) live-video-stream-thing win. And hey let's not forget bambuser, which I'm also fiddling with- a bit rough around the edges now but it's chat, fullscreen viewing, and GPS capabilities look very promising.

Matthew

@phairest I can't be certain but I do believe bambuser hadn't even launched at the time of this post. Bambuser wasn't available to me if it had launched. I have since setup an account but I have not sufficiently tested it. I can't give you specifics but I will say Bambuser won't have an upperhand on the additional features you meantioned. Qik has chat and full screen viewing today. Bambuser is a relative unknown in this new arena compared to Qik and Flixwagon.

phairest

@Matthew, where does Qik have fullscreen now, I don't see it... :[ But anyway as for bambuser, it does supposedly have something totally unique; multi-cam streaming. I say *supposedly* b/c I've yet to try it out firsthand- interested? I'm username phairest at all 3 places.

FYI I don't care who has the biggest following, b/c I'm not looking to get random hits thru the site. I just wanna use the one that works best so the specific people I want watching have the best experience.

Matthew

@phairest As was highlighted Qik Tips and Tricks post on April 30 some RSS readers and iTunes will see the link. That's the easiest way right now.
http://darlamack.blogs.com/darlamack/2008/04/qik-tips-and-tr.html

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