Red Submarine video editing laptop

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Red Submarine video editing laptop PC

Although demand for edit-ready laptop PCs has never been higher, the choice still remains limited. We look at a PIII-based Win XP contender from Red Submarine.

With the necessary processing power now readily available in laptop computers, mobile DV editing systems are no longer the stuff of dreams. In recent issues we reviewed Sony's DV-edit-ready Vaio PCG-FX505 and AJP's FireWire-equipped 2200T; and, late last year, we checked out Apple's edit-ready iBook. This month we're looking at a DV-edit-ready Windows XP contender from Red Submarine.
At first glance, the Red Submarine Mobile Editing Work Station looks much like any off-the-shelf laptop, but close inspection shows there's plenty to appeal to the DV editor on the move. The machine has a Pentium III 1.1 GHz processor, 512MByte of PC133 RAM and a 68GByte of hard disk space (20GByte on the fixed system drive and 48GByte on a second, removable drive). But those are not the only reasons why the Red Sub PC is some way away from the budget end of the laptop market.

Hardware details
The left side of the PC has a combined DVD player/CD-RW drive, while the right features a modem connection, PCMCIA port and three mini-jacks for audio-out, line-in and microphone. The right side is also where the second, removable hard drive goes in. This can easily be switched with a 1.44MByte floppy disk drive that is also supplied with the system.
The rear panel includes a PS/2 port and one for 10/100 networking, and a power socket for the supplied external AC power unit. Under the rear flip-down cover are the parallel, serial and external monitor ports, and two USB ports. More interesting, from a video editing perspective, are the 1394 FireWire port for DV in/out, S-video out jack for analogue video out, and an RCA jack for analogue video in.
Lifting the lid reveals a 15.1 TFT display, and speakers built into the hinges. Speaker output is fine for routine audio playback on the move, but something better would be required for mission-critical audio editing. However, the quality of the display ñ driven by a 16MByte ATI Rage graphics processor ñ is excellent, and its maximum resolution of 1400 x 1050 gives a healthy amount of screen real-estate. The keyboard and trackpad were also solid in use. The S-video analogue out mirrors what is shown on the main display, but the VGA port does allow the desktop to be spanned across to an external monitor.

In terms of basic processing grunt and connectivity, the Red Submarine laptop is not far removed from the considerably cheaper AJP laptop reviewed in April. However, the Red Submarine includes a dedicated second hard drive of a size large enough for plenty of DV storage and, unlike the bare-bones AJP, whatever additional video or audio software/hardware is ordered will be fully configured. From our dealings, Red Sub's after-sales support seems excellent. There does remain the outstanding issue over analogue capture/output, but the company was commendably open about this and did emphasis that this machine is intended primarily for DV use.
As a mobile DV editing platform, the Red Submarine may not be cheap, but it is very high on quality. It is also a turnkey system ñ if video editing software is purchased with the laptop then expect to be able to open the box, connect a DV camera and start work. As with buying from any specialist video editing system builder, the purchaser is paying for peace of mind and a reassurance of high-class technical support from a single source. For those who want to get work done on the move and are not keen to become their own IT technicians, the cost premium may be a price well worth paying.

For the full review, see the August 2002 issue of Computer Video.

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