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Friday, July 18, 2008

Cage Match - TriCaster vs. Sony Anycast

Update Aug. 2010: At the end check out my newest updates to this article covering HD varient of the AnyCast, the AWS-G500E. More info on the various TriCaster models.

People keep asking so I'll tell you what I think. First let me begin by saying this isn't going to be a fair fight so don't whine when your favorite Japanese company's product comes up bruised and bleeding. :)

OK so the most striking difference between the two is obviously the price. The TriCaster Pro setup is half the price of the Anycast. The Anycast wins on inputs but of course we could always upgrade to a TriCaster Studio and still beat Sony's price by eight grand. The Anycast also wins on convenience as it's an all in one unit whereas the TriCaster has a separate monitor and external controller. Oh, and the Anycast has a VISCA controller. The TriCaster requires a third party add-on for this.

In every other area it's a take down for the TriCaster. My major complaints with the Anycast are: Real Media Streaming! what's up with that? A rubber slider is a poor excuse for a T-bar. All the configuration is done through a menu system with a little scroll wheel so it's not practical to make any changes during a production. You cannot make changes to a CG during a production, all imported graphics must be put on a memory stick and then copied to the internal hard drive before you can use them. And you have to use the stupid menus to move the file. Assigning one of the wipes to the wipe button was is also clunky and again not really practical to do during a production. The monitor may be built in but it's kinda small. Running big, long RGB cables from the presenters laptop all the way to the Anycast is no fun.

On the plus side for the TriCaster Pro: Update CGs on the fly even while one is being displayed. Sophisticated external controller, see my review of the LC-11 here. Simple point and click user interface with a mouse. Complete live virtual set and chroma key system built in. Built in video editor. Windows or Flash streaming. Record the production to the hard drive. iVGA makes it easy to input a presenters screen via a network cable or even via WiFi. Four different models and several different controllers to choose from so you can configure a system to meet both your needs and your budget.

So I don't see many reasons to go with an Anycast over a TriCaster the AnyCast is just too limited. Even if you absolutely need Real Media Streaming I'm pretty sure I can get Real Encoder to run on a TriCaster.

Next Time We'll beat up on a GlobeCaster! It won't be pretty.

Sony Anycast Basic Specs
Video I/O

  • 4 Composite or Y/C video inputs
  • 2 RGB (XGA or SXGA) inputs
  • 1 Composite, 1 Y/C and 1 DVI (RGB) output
Audio I/O

  • 2 XLR and 4 1/4" Phone Jacks for microphone in
  • 1 RCA pair for line level input 
  • Phantom Power 

  • Real Media 

  • Cross-Dissolve
  • 16 Simple Wipes 

  • No 
Other features

  • Built in monitor
  • Built In Visca (robotic camera control)
List Price $20,000

TriCaster Pro with LC-11  Basic Specs
Video I/O

  • 3 Composite, Y/C or Component video inputs
  • 1 Composite, 1 Y/C, 1 Component and 1 DVI (RGB) output
  • 3 iVGA inputs (VGA, XGA.SXGA, WXGA via network)
Audio I/O

  • 2 XLR/Phone Jacks for microphone or line inputs
  • 1 RCA pair for line level input  
  • Phantom Power

  • Windows Media
  • Flash


  • Cross-Dissolve
  • 200+ Wipes, Curls and DVEs

  • Yes + Still Store 
Other features

  • Virtual Sets
  • Chroma Keyer
  • Animated Overlays
  • Record Entire Production To Hard Drive
  • Video Editor 
 List Price $10,000 ($10,300 if you include a monitor)

Aug 2010 Update:

Sony is now shipping the Anycast AWS-G500E which has interchangable I/O modules. A few other new features include a chromakeyer and a built in CG (still can't make changes on the fly). Almost everything else is the same.

Pricing for the AnyCast:

$13,000 for the base unit with no input cards.
SD SDI I/O (2 inputs) $2,200
HD SDI I/O (2 inputs) $3,200
SD analog I/O (2 inputs) $1600
HD Component Analog  $3,000
RGB I/O $1,700

So a four input HD system will be pushing $19,400 while a SD analog system is over $16,000

The TriCaster TCXD300 three input HD model with LC-11 controller is going to run under $17,000 so for about the same price as an SD Anycast you can get a full HD TriCaster. NewTek also has the TCXD850 with eight inputs if you need even more. Both models of TriCaster TCXD have feature sets that exceed even what the SD TriCasters bring to the table.


Anonymous said...

You leave out that Anycast comes with firewire inputs for camera and more firewire outputs for doing ISO on all cameras or for taking the program mix to disk. And you can do this is a standard codec that works with your NLE (not like the codec of the Tricaster that only works in speed edit)

Anycaster also has an upgrade path for SDI inputs and HD. A little more useful than the Y/C or component limitations of the Tricaster.

Yes - the Anycast CG software is underdeveloped - but since the Anycast is written on linux - this will likely be upgraded over time. For now you have two RGB inputs you can pass a laptop CG through.

Jeff Cupp said...

While it's true the Anycast has ieee 1394 i/o they arn't real useful in the real world. Besides the latency issue you also have restrictions on how long you can run cables without addition repeaters so you will find that firewire isn't usually a good choice for live switching.

TriCaster 2.0 records high data rate (all I frame)MPEG2 now rather than the proprietary codec so it should work with any editor.

If you need SDI NewTek offers the TriCaster Broadcast that has both analog and SDI I/O and still costs less than the Anycast. They also give a user full value if they trade their old TriCaster in towards a larger one. So if you buy a TC Pro now and later decide to upgrade to a Broadcast you only pay the difference.

The TriCaster runs on Windows so upgrades / third party add-ons are even easier

I think the Anycast could be a contender just not at it's current price point.

Thanks for your comments.

Unknown said...

We have both an Anycast and several Tricasters now. We bought the Anycast a few years back because the Tricaster was not far enough along when we needed a portable switcher. The Studio had not yet been announced and the three inputs on the Pro were not enough. Plus the IVGA connection seemed a little unpredictable at the time. The difference as I see it, but does not justify the price, is that the Anycast acts more like a broadcast appliance and the Tricaster acts more like a computer. (If that makes sense) Now that the Studio and Broadcast came out and all the developments that New Tek has added on, like Live Control and Time Warp, you really can't beat Tricaster for the price. Plus the ease of doing titling as opposed to the Anycast and the internal hard drive makes the Tricaster a great all around box. The Anycast does have its positive points, like the two RGB inputs, the audio board has a lot more features and the VISCA Control. (However I have heard that the Live Control panel was designed for future control of PTZ cameras- notice the two joy sticks that do not have a function) The way it breaks down for me; If I am doing a production that I do not want to do a lot of post on, I will use Tricaster. If I have a production that I plan to edit after the fact, I will usually use Anycast. Also, if it is a production that I can't take a chance on, I will use the Anycast, as we have had the occasion where the Tricaster has frozen up in the middle of a production. Being that the Tricaster is built on a Windows OS, it does have that propensity for freezing up if not re-booted occasionally. (It's a computer after all) The Anycast, in that regard, is less of a computer, and is built on a Linux OS, which tends to be more stable. (IMHO)

Fishmon said...

Anybody care to offer an opinion on the TricasterPro compared to the new offering on the MacOS called BoinxTV? I have an option to buy a Tricaster but am thinking that even though the interface might be a less mature on the Boinx product, the basic OS structure would be less likely to crash mid event. I am very clear on understanding the basic differences between the products. No need to rehash product feature set here. Opinions?

Jeff Cupp said...

I think the idea that a (properly configured) Windows machine is less stable than a Mac is probably a myth. The current iterations of Mac OS have their share of bloat problems just like Windows.

TriCasters have proven to be very stable in the field given clean power and proper ventilation.

Anonymous said...

I've worked with them both and the AnyCast is a total joke compared to the Tricaster. If anyone is thinking about getting a AnyCast you should reconsider. The initial draw to buy is its portability, but the presantries stop there. The AnyCast has serious compatibility issues with other devices and is down right tragic when trying to record to other devices. Its decent at mixing, but Tricaster is better there too. Only limitation is the lack of firewire on the tricaster but you can get converters that run about $100-$200. With everything you save on Tricaster you can easily buy the converters you need. Features wise Tricaster really puts the AnyCast to shame. Virtual DV decks, virtual sets, a quick easy to use interface, records to itself not an external in Linux that typcial computers can't read. I could write a book on my frustrations with the anycast. If your a professional producer buy Tricaster over AnyCast or get ready to have a lot of regrets. I know I sure did.

Anonymous said...

We recently compared both with the hopes of replacing our Anycast for a broadcast Tricaster. However, after a 6 week comparison, found the Tricaster just not stable enough. It restarted during our productions numerous times throughout the trial, and for us, that was unacceptable. Additionally, we found it occasionally lagged when handling big jobs, and didn't handle audio, more specifically audio delay, for our larger venues. That being said, we were still sad to see the Tricaster go. It handled video, streaming, and especially hosted files like AVI and JPEG far better than the Anycast. Additionally, it was easier to use, and far cheaper; just in the end, not reliable which is make or break.

Jeff Cupp said...

That's odd.I produced 22 high school basketball games last season and had zero crashes with my TC Studio.

Digital Arts has sold dozens of TCs and I'd say they are as reliable as you could possibly expect for a computer based product.

The only times I've seen problems, short of hardware failures, is when someone molested the Windows install. This usually was the IT department installing some anti-virus software that munged everything up.

All TriCaster delay the audio so as to maintain lip sync. The video is delayed by between two and three frames through the TC (all digital video switchers have a similar insertion delay). If your cameras are genlocked the delay is exactly two frame.

Joey said...

We own both. We have had the AnyCast for about 5 years. Initially, it was a little problematic but nothing that brought productions to a screaching halt. It has been very stable and served us quite well. And, btw, the firewire i/o IS usable in the real world. We have done it many times. The disappointments with AnyCast are RealMedia streaming and the lack of a live CG component.

We recently purchased the TC 850 for a permanent HD/SDI install solution. Aside from the fans being extremely loud (and the factory fix doesn't help a whole lot) it has been solid on the production side. It is an extremely versatile box and we are still learning it.

And really, how many times have you seen virtual sets used?

On the mac front, I would look at the Pro version of Wirecast 4.0 by Telestream. It runs on a mac, has CG, streaming (no wmv on the mac version but yes on the PC version) and virtual sets. It's a very simple TC and costs about $1,000 (and your hardware). We have produced and streamed programs using this on a MacBookPro. We have even used Wirecast to create the stream by taking a firewire input from the AnyCast.

I have owned a video toaster running on an Amiga by Commodore too so Newtek is not a new face for me.