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Software vs. hardware encoders for live video streaming. Which one is right for me?

Both IPTV solutions are meant to address specific situations and to adapt to different circumstances. 

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Movies and TV shows have always been a top source of entertainment for people of all ages. However, there are more modern ways to profit from entertainment and create content each day. One of the most successful ways to do it is remote streaming with an IPTV encoder.

Streaming has become popular in online streaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and others. However, live streaming is not as easy as it seems since you need an IPTV encoder to do it.

Encoders take your video file and convert it into a digital form with IPTV streaming software. Yet, there’s always the question that if an IPTV server software encoder is better than a hardware encoder. Both of them do different things, but it’s difficult for people to tell which one is better encoder for streaming live since they offer different solutions and IPTV software features. 

If you want to have the best quality you can have for your live streams, you need to choose the right encoder and understand the basic terms of a streaming video. Dive into this page to learn everything you need to know about the matter! 

What Is Encoding? 

Live video streaming is no easy task. Not all video sources are fit for live streaming, so you need to convert them to a web-friendly format. That’s when encoders come in handy. Encoding means translating your video to a digital format that can be streamed to the internet with no trouble. 

You need to encode your videos to stream them online. That’s the reason picking the right IPTV encoder is essential to do everything correctly. The problem is that not everyone knows which type of encoder is best for them. 

It’s normal to get confused throughout the live streaming learning process since you have IPTV server software encoders and hardware encoders available for you. However, that’s not a reason to drop out of your goals, so the best you can do is learn the basics of live video streaming and IPTV solutions

What Is Transcoding? 

Transcoding is reducing the size of your video file to make it available for everyone regardless of their internet connection. People tend to confuse the terms transcoding and encoding since both of them represent similar things are IPTV solutions. Yet, it’s crucial to understand what they mean to avoid making a mistake throughout the process. 

People use IPTV transcoder software when they need to make their video streaming available to all kinds of people regardless of their internet connection. This process works by converting the video file format to one of a smaller size. Using that IPTV streaming server software avoids buffer issues. 

An IPTV encoder with transcoding capabilities is called a codec. However, verify if yours does before trying anything. 

What’s the Difference Between a Software Encoder and a Hardware Encoder? 

Getting to the main part of this article, it’s the moment to understand the primary differences between a software encoder and a hardware encoder. Before saying which one is better for each situation, you need to know the strong and weak points of both of them. 

Naturally, both of them are meant to fulfill the same task: encode your video to make it suitable for video streaming. You can notice the main difference between both encoders when reading their names. 

Hardware encoders have a physical body that you need to attach or connect to your personal computer, while IPTV server software encoders are programs and platforms that work directly with your CPU. Here is a table to understand their differences better: 

Hardware EncoderSoftware Encoder
It’s more expensive. It’s cost-effective.
It supports better output resolution and frame rate. It tends to use standard video quality.  
  It’s a little more complicated to use. It’s simpler and easier to understand. 
  It has a physical body. It’s a program that works with the CPU. 
Encoding is its main function. Encoding is not its only function. 

What to Consider When Looking for an Encoder? 

There are some things you need to consider when deciding which IPTV encoder to go for. There’s not an encoder that works for everyone in the world, so you need to choose wisely which suits you best. 

The first thing you should consider when looking for an IPTV encoder is your budget. If you don’t worry about investing more money in your live video streams, then you could choose to go for a hardware encoder. 

Hardware encoders are used by professionals and people who live stream for a living. Regardless of that, it’s not necessary to use a hardware encoder to make live video streams of a decent quality. 

If you are working on a budget, you can perfectly choose a software encoder. This type of encoder works directly with your CPU. That means it consumes more resources from your personal computer, but it’s way more inexpensive. 

There are even some options for free. If you end up going for an IPTV server software encoder, we recommend you use OBS. That’s the one most people use, and it’s an excellent entry-level alternative. 

Yet, you still need to see your personal computer’s specifications to see if you can use the encoder with it. Not all encoders support the same computers, so you should check that before making a decision. 

Keep in mind your goals. You need to analyze if you want to make live video streaming for a hobby or because you want to become a professional streamer. Your answer determines how much you should invest in your stream encoder. 

Bottom Line – Which One Is Best? 

The encoder you choose depends on your circumstances. It’s not as if hardware encoders were better than software encoders. Both IPTV solutions are meant to address specific situations and to adapt to different circumstances. 

That’s why you need to analyze which one suits you best. If you want to become professional streaming and make high-quality broadcasts, then hardware video encoders are for you. If you are doing it just for a hobby and don’t want to invest a lot of money on it, then go for an inexpensive or free IPTV server software encoder. 

Remember that making that decision determines if you can live video stream or not. Choosing the wrong IPTV solutions can make you lose tons of money if they end up not being a good fit for your situation. You can also use other things such as adaptive bitrate technologies to reduce buffering. 

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