Creating a live show on YouTube and Facebook can be great for interacting with friends, creating a show, livestreaming a class, and so much more. But to really get the best quality you need something better than a phone and ideally easier than installing capture cards & software into your computer. That’s where the Epiphan Webcaster X2 comes in offering an easy to use interface with all the ports and functionality you need.
The Webcaster X2 is very well built, compact, and self-contained. Housed in a metal and plastic body that feels extremely rugged, the X2 would be easy to travel with for streaming on the go. With support for both Facebook and YouTube (though you can’t stream to both simultaneously), it was a nice upgrade from the original Webcaster X1. You can use the built in Wi-Fi for connecting to any wireless network or phone hotspot, but for even better quality, the LAN port enables easy hookup directly to your router. The front of the device houses an LCD screen that will display some crucial information as well as the status and is enough to go live without attaching anything else except your camera. Ultimately though you will want to use the 2 USB ports to hook up your keyboard and mouse, as well as the HDMI out port for a monitor. With these devices attached, you can navigate through the menu system, customize your network, setup livestream events, and so much more. Additionally, the interface allows you to see what you are filming as well as any comments that appear while you are live.
Your camera can connect to the X2 via the HDMI in port or you can use a dedicated USB camera. You will want to make sure your camera offers a clean HDMI output (no menu overlays) and my favorite entry level option is the Panasonic G7. Your audio will transfer perfectly from the camera over HDMI, but we also have an optical input for pulling in audio from a separate source.
The menu system is based on Android and is easy enough to interact with. You can schedule a show, rename the event, set your quality up to 1080p at 4mbps, and change all your preferences. You can even set the X2 to immediately go live once it is turned on and connected to a network. Quality is also very good and while the bitrate is low for 1080p, it offered a clear image even over my Wi-Fi network. You unfortunately cannot record to the X2 while streaming (at least not yet) but YouTube does allow you to save the show for future viewing. Epiphan has also issued a few updates over the last few months to fix bugs and add new features. Thankfully the upgrade process doesn’t get much easier and a single click in the interface (you will need a mouse and monitor attached) began the process which looks very much like a tablet/phone upgrade. No need to download firmware on a separate SD card like on most cameras and devices.
Overall the Webcaster X2 is the best live streaming device I have found under $500 with an easy to use interface and control for almost every option you could want. As long as you have a camera with an HDMI out, a single cable is all that is needed to be ready to stream. The setup is simple enough and the quality is great for a device like this. If you need 4k, a multicamera setup, or built in recording, you might need to look elsewhere. But for starting out a new livestreaming show, offering an internet based live class, or just setting up the system to go live when plugged in, the Webcaster X2 was nearly perfect.