[Review] Leightronix PEG Equipment
Almost a year ago, we needed something to replace a Granicus PEG feed for a government client. After some amount of researching which did not involve a senior tech or myself, our boss selected Leightronix to be the replacement. We installed an UltraNexus-HD for scheduling, playback, and recording along with a Viebit for Video-on-Demand and Livestreaming.
If I had been there when that decision was made, we would have gone with Televue.
A lot of headaches could have been saved.
Where shall I begin with this nightmare?
Let’s talk about the darkest nightmare first.
The UltraNexus-HD is the $16,000 device that schedules, plays, records, and is the center of everything. Our client has an old danky ass council chamber that fed directly to Granicus via composite. The UltraNexus-HD has a composite input but it is not actually soldered on or connected to anything as per Leightronix Support. Strike One.
Thus, we needed to purchase a composite to SDI converter and put it in front of the UltraNexus. Okay, fine.
Next, the Frontier and Charter boxes that send the PEG feed to their stations requires a composite input. The UltraNexus-HD has a CVBS output. Great. Add a splitter and we’re golden, right?.
We get that shit all set up. It came with two Leightronix-branded hard drive caddies, model Leightronix LGX-2TBR-LX. One of them randomly drops connection throughout the day. Why we didn’t just buy a reliable NAS or external storage solution, I will never know. Strike two.
We set up the WinLGX scheduling software and get it all ready for recording and livestreaming to the PEG channels and to the Viebit’s livestream. It works well the first time.
Then all hell breaks loose. We go way past strike three real quickly.
First, we wanted to play a Powerpoint presentation we exported as an mp4 file. Putting it into the virtual channel, the list of things that the UltraNexus plays when there’s nothing on the schedule, resulted in the UltraNexus completely crapping itself. Like, the entire kernel took a dump or something ridiculous. We got with Leightronix Support and they said it was because the mp4 file did not have an audio track.
I smelled utter bullshit. No way you’re telling me a fucking $16,000 device will take a hardcore shit when a silent video file is played. In this day and age. Seriously. Like, no joke, support had to go into the boot files and swap OS files out to fix this epic crash. This $16,000 VIDEO PLAYBACK MACHINE almost bricked itself because it was a piece of shit and couldn’t play a video with no sound.
Wow. That’s all I have to say.
Leightronix Support tells us to update the firmware to fix that. Silent videos still don’t play afterwards, they just get skipped. Great fix.
Then we get it set up to record council meetings. The UltraNexus starts crashing almost every other recording. What the fuck?
Leightronix Support gave us a custom firmware in March 2017 to fix the crashing issues. The issues became rarer. Manageable, but still crashing occasionally. In May, the official firmware listed on our support page was still from February. So clearly this shit wasn’t happening to anyone else.
Then it crashes during an important council meeting and our client decides enough is enough. We try to warranty the Leightronix. After some teeth pulling, we successfully get it warrantied along with the hard drive caddie that refuses to stay steadily connected.
Our second UltraNexus-HD crashes even more often than the first one, and it does so without prompting. At least our old one only crashed when it was recording. This new one, the entire box freezes up randomly:
We give support the log files and the video above. Leightronix apologizes and gives us another warranty replacement along with a free 1 year subscription to Viebit. Alright, that’s find and dandy, but our shit still don’t work.
Our third UltraNexus-HD gets shipped over and installed. Guess what? It crashes about 4 times the next council meeting. Brilliant.
Thank the gods I’m moving on to a new job before I had to continue working on that shit.
The UltraNexus-HD gets a 1/10. Boo.
I don’t think it’s worth it with all the baggage the UltraNexus strung along. There are far better platforms for livestreaming and VOD. That said, I have to give credit where credit is due. The Viebit has had near impeccable stability. It has not crashed once, but that was paid for with the UltraNexus.
That being said, the features are lacking. There is no way to automate or script uploading, naming, metadata changes, etc. In fact, I asked Leightronix Support once if there was a way to access the internal database to create a spreadsheet of the file list for an odd project the client wanted, but they responded like I had asked them a multi-variable Calculus question. Fo’ real, they said, “Do you mean like the RSS feed?” The RSS feed doesn’t have any of the metadata in it though…but luckily it barely worked for what the client wanted.
Also, you can’t attach minutes to a video on Viebit. Granicus does this well. This is a major fuckup when dealing with a government public-facing client. We had to make a separate minutes page, but it was all so nice when the Granicus did it for you and generated a nice iframe code for you to use anywhere you want.
Thus, overall, I am very neutral towards the Viebit. There are better options, but I suppose it was cheap. And we got a year free because of how fucked up the UltraNexus was, so yay?
The Viebit gets a 5/10. Meh.
III. Leightronix Support
Their website looks so friendly and positive, doesn’t it?
Ho boy. We had the distinct displeasure of dealing with Bill Phipps, who seems to be the only technician there who knows jack shit. The one time I received a response from someone else, it was complete gibberish. Bill’s “support” after the initial restoration of our boot files pretty much became “I’ll forward your logs to the engineers and come back with a custom firmware!” No. God damn. I highly doubt others are having issues with our frequency, so why do you keep insisting firmware is the problem? Especially after three UltraNexuses?
We had to pull teeth to get the UltraNexus warrantied too. Ultimately we needed assistance from our reseller, who thankfully pulled through. Of course, Leightronix sent us a replacement UltraNexus that was obviously used. The video files had been deleted on it, but some tier 1 desk jockey forgot to clear the logs to complete the trick. There were logs all the way back from September the previous year.
After experiencing the random freezing, we explained to our reseller what the nine hells was going on, so they pushed for a brand new replacement. We got it, but hey, it’s broken too!
Oh yeah, one of the receptionists answered their phones once and foolishly told us “all three of their technicians were busy at the moment.” All three. Yeah, sounds about right.
Fuck you, Leightronix Support.
Leightronix Support gets a 2/10, only because they were able to actually do something and unbrick a device. Good job!