Review

Ots AV Radio Webcaster

Price: S299.95 $254.96

While an independent online broadcaster’s taste for both music and broadcasting applications is intensely personal, OtsAV has been heavily pushing and promoting its own series of broadcast tools as the best it for streaming media enterprises of all sizes. Its OtsAV Webcaster solution is targeted at independent online broadcasters, or at least that’s the marketing message promoted by OtsAV itself. The software is indeed quite capable, relatively popular, and does the job that it promises to do. The software is relatively popular and it will be interesting to see how capable it is, as a broadcasting solution.

Installation

The software offers a full 30 day trial so you plenty of time to test the software and comes in a pretty straightforward self-executable file which contains its own traditional installation application like almost every piece of software distributed for the Windows operating system. Broadcasters who wish to use the software will simply need to determine where OtsAV Webcaster will be installed, and they’ll set a few default preferences for placing the application in the Start menu, and that’s really all that’s required for the installation process to proceed. It’s really one of the easiest installation routines that most Windows users will come across, and that’s both important and refreshing for most users. Unfortunately OtsAV is not compatible with Mac OS.

User Interface

ots av radio user interface The user interface appears to have been around a while and the controls and buttons remind of video games of old. This is something that is most likely being worked for a future release. The top half of the application contains a litany of controls which can manage song volume, mixing and equalizer settings, and other controls which have a direct impact on how the broadcast will sound on listeners’ computers. Of course, broadcasters can plug in their earbuds, or use their computer’s speakers, to hear the same output on their end of the broadcast.

Ease of Use

It’s worth noting that, at first glance, the extensive audio mixing and broadcasting controls contained within the OtsAV Webcaster software are pretty complex. There are a lot of sliders, mixers, and dials, and the novice broadcaster might simply become overwhelmed with the number of options presented to them. Some people might consider this a significant negative when it comes to using the software, and it will certainly send some users toward the competition. However, the simple fact of the matter is that OtsAV Webcaster is designed to be a robust and advanced solution for independent broadcasting, and the controls presented above the media library part of the application reflect that mission.

Below the controls, a typical media library area is contained which lists all of the media files currently placed onto the computer or an external hard disk. The user can control which media is displayed in this library list by determining the “source” of the files; they can also manually remove or add individual files to the media library much like in traditional media player applications and less advanced broadcasting software solutions. This is probably the easiest-to-use part of the application, and those broadcasters who don’t need to alter the way their media sounds will be able to start entertaining their listeners pretty quickly after installation simply by using the media library itself.

Documentation

If a company is going to make a relatively complex piece of software and ship it to consumers of varying experience levels, they should at least pair it with strong support and documentation tools. Unfortunately, the installed documentation for OtsAV Webcaster is a bit thin and not as helpful as most users would like. This is somewhat compensated for by a vast and searchable online source of documentation and product support, as well as direct company contact information. Overall, even without installed documentation, the OtsAV software is well-supported and can be easily learned by those who take the time to read through the company’s provided support documents.

Advantages

There are few software solutions for independent broadcasters which offer as many controls and customizable settings as the OtsAV Webcaster software. Combined with its support for the popular SHOUTcast broadcasting protocol, and plugins (extensions of built-in functionality), almost every level of broadcaster will find something to love about the software’s functionality.

Disadvantages

That being said, there are some major problems that arise in terms of the software’s interface; it’s intimidating to use after having been first installed, as there are simply so many controls which are poorly and obscurely labeled in some cases. Trial and error will certainly serve to negate this problem, but’s one which shouldn’t have been overlooked in the first place.

Since Spring 2011, the company announced the imminent release of a new version of the software, but some major delays with development (and bug fixing, we assume) discouraged many in the industry.

Summary

OtsAV Webcaster is, overall, a powerful and highly flexible broadcasting solution that will help aspiring entertainers get their music and message online pretty quickly. Its interface is intimidating, but it’s backed up by thorough online documentation and direct company contact options which should console novice broadcasters and those new to the software itself. OtsAV also have a ‘Broadcaster’ edition that allows you to run a terrestrial radio station. Obviously the webcaster edition was not developed with web radio solely in mind and for this reason we wouldn’t recommend Ots AV for Internet webcasters.

Rating

A powerful product but unless you are an experienced internet broadcaster, it is let down by a difficult interface.

 

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