The Internet provides users many ways to access video files online. The traditional method involves downloading a video file just like a user would with a regular document or a picture file. The user must wait for the download to finish, then open and view the video. Streaming videos, however, let users view a video as it is being downloaded from the Internet.
Streaming video technology is useful for real-time and on-demand requests. A common use for streaming video is for broadcasting news over the Internet. Some of the bigger news networks even provide live news video streaming on their websites. Another common use for streaming videos is for viewing movie clips. Many movie studios provide previews or trailers of their upcoming film features through streaming video clips. Also from the entertainment business, music labels use this technology to stream music videos for the public.
With the sudden emergence of portable web-cameras, one of the growing uses for streaming videos is for video conferencing. Computer chat programs often come with video conferencing functions that let chatters see the person they are chatting with. This feature not only allows Internet users to hear the voices of their friends or relatives, but it also lets them see each other in real time. Similarly, entrepreneurs use this function to conduct business meetings, conferences, or even corporate training over the Internet.
Streaming videos are also used in the field of education. Live or pre-recorded lectures are available from many university and educational websites. This allows students to view and listen to lectures over and over again.
There are a lot of other uses for streaming videos. Some websites provide real-time views of main roads. This service is particularly helpful to motorists who want to avoid vehicular traffic.
For all the advantages of streaming videos, there are also limitations and disadvantages. For videos to be delivered quickly to a user’s desktop for viewing, two things have to be considered: the size of the video and the Internet bandwidth available to the user. Compressing videos can normally sacrifice their quality, and a small bandwidth normally results in choppy video playback. Another drawback to the availability of streaming videos is the increase in network or Internet traffic.