, Darrin Woods has posted an exhaustive comparison of leading software and hardware used to stream digital video. In the new article, entitled
Hardware or Software? Wading the Video Stream
Woods said that Apple’s Darwin Streaming Server took “top honors” when compared to RealNetworks’ RealSystem and Microsoft Windows Media Services.
The reviewers found Apple’s open-source, free Darwin Streaming Server software surprisingly easy to use. “When we first read the instructions, we thought something was missing,” said Woods.
Woods said that RealNetworks’ RealSystem iQ system was easier to set up initially, but it’s the most expensive, too. Anyone who wants it can download and use Darwin Streaming Server for free. As far as Windows Media Services goes, Woods said, “Unless you’re an all-Microsoft shop, you can do better.” Microsoft’s own streaming service came in last in four out of five quality tests and was called the most difficult to configure, too.
“The Apple player’s buffering is the quickest of all three: just 10 to 12 seconds, compared with 15 to 20 seconds for RealNetworks’ and Microsoft’s players,” said Woods.
Ultimately, Darwin Streaming Server 4 edged out RealNetworks’ and Microsoft’s offerings for a total score of 4.19, or B+, compared to Real’s 4.03 and Microsoft’s 2.65. The Network Computing scores ranged in value from 1-5 and were weighted based on various criteria.
Specific areas where Apple’s software excelled over the competition was video quality — the single most important factor, and cost — after all, it’s free. It also tied with RealSystem for Server OS compatibility; the open-source Darwin Streaming Server can be recompiled to run on a variety of computer platforms.