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Computer Video News - August 2003

Analogue/DV on OHCI-compliant card

Canopus analogue/DV card claimed to be the first to work with any Windows/MacOHCI-compliant video editing program.
Canopus looks to have performed a rather amazing trick that no other company has yet managed - building an editing card that has analogue and DV capture/output and is able to work with any OHCI-compliant video editing program - Windows or Mac.
This is in contrast to the normal way of things with analogue/DV cards, which work solely with the supplied editing program and only do that because the hardware maker has written dedicated drivers for that program.
The card is the snappily named ACEDVio (pronounced, Ace DV I/O), and is supplied with a full version of Sonic Foundry's Vegas 4 (review, June 2003, p34), and has an SRP of £410 (inc VAT). The crafty trick has been accomplished by building into the card Canopus's own two-way hardware Codec that drives an analogue<>DV converter - the sort of thing that is normally housed in an external black box.
There is a large number of Windows OHCI-compliant programs, starting with Microsoft's free offering, the XP-only Movie Maker, and low-end software, such as Pinnacle Studio and Ulead VideoWave. Moving up the price scale, the list also includes Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7 (review, p28), Adobe Premiere 6 and 6.5, Pinnacle Edition 4.5 and 5, and even Avid XpressDV.
Perversely, ACEDVio owners won't yet be able to use Canopus's new Windows editing program Edius (News, June 2003, p6), since the first version of the program isn't OHCI-compliant. As well as Vegas, the card comes with a Windows program to control the levels of analogue audio/video input/output, plus a lite version of Ulead's entry-level Windows DVD authoring program, DVD MovieFactory 2.
No software is provided for Macs - underlining the fact that the card's Mac capabilities are an almost incidental consequence of following the OHCI standard. There's also little doubt that the card will seem like far better value to Windows users than owners of Macs - who have FireWire built into their machines, get Apple's iMovie editor as standard and will realise that the cost of an external converter box is far less than that of the ACEDVio.
Nonetheless, some Mac users may like the idea of using hardware based on Canopus's high-quality Codec and having analogue in/out without any additional desktop clutter. Canopus says that the card's analogue and DV capture and editing capabilities have been tested with three Apple programs - iMovie 3, Final Cut Express 1.01 and FCP 4 - though we'd tend to assume that it would work with other OHCI programs, such as Premiere 6.
On the analogue side, the card has phono inputs and outputs for L/R audio, plus two mini-DIN input/output ports that each combine S-video and composite video. There are also two FireWire ports - one four-pin for connection to a DV camcorder or DV VCR, the other six-pin for use with FireWire peripherals such as hard drives. A standard hard-drive power connector can be plugged into the card to ensure that the power provided via the six-pin port to such peripherals is sufficient, and doesn't sap current from the PCI bus. A composite-to-S-video converter cable is supplied in-pack, along with a four-pin-to-four-pin FireWire cable.
For Windows, the key minimum requirements are said to be Win 2000 or XP; an 800MHz CPU; 256MB of RAM; and a free V2.1 PCI slot. Macs require OS 9 (or later), a free PCI slot, a suitable editing program and, in our view, a processor no slower than 500MHz.

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188;

Avid Xpress Pro professional encoding

Avid replaces Xpress DV with Xpress Pro, a big software bundle that includes Sorenson's professional media-repurposing suite

Avid is set to replace its Xpress DV editing software (review, Jan 03, p30) with Xpress Pro - a package priced at £1,530 (inc VAT) and including a customised version of Sorenson's Squeeze 3 media repurposing suite; Avid Filmmaker's Toolkit, Illusion FX pack; Sonic ReelDVD; Profound Effects' Elastic Gasket; and Boris FX and Graffiti.
Xpress Pro comes with Mac OS X and Windows XP versions in the pack and has available a new hardware option (also at £1,530) - Avid Mojo DNA - for analogue/DV capture and hardware-accelerated real-time effects and DV in/output.
Users will be able to import edits directly into the customised version of the Squeeze 3 suite (news, April 2003, p16) and encode to QuickTime, MPEG1/2/4, Windows Media (version 7, 8 and 9), RealMedia and Flash Player file formats.
The supplied version of Squeeze supports one-pass and two-pass variable bit-rate (VBR) encoding, and features a drag-and-drop interface; DV capture-compression; compression presets; watch folders for batch processing of multiple files; and video and audio filters.

Avid, 01753 655999;

Component<>DV conversion on a budget

ADS' £250 analogue<>DV external converter with component video input/output

ADS is setting a new, ultra-low price point for cross conversion of component video and DV with the launch of the Pyro A/V Link for Windows and Mac PCs. This external converter box carries an SRP of just £250 (inc VAT) and, amazingly, even comes with a copy of the full version of Ulead's entry-level Windows editor VideoStudio 6.
Pyro A/V Link works with PAL or NTSC video and carries separate inputs and outputs for S-video, composite video and L/R audio. There are two FireWire ports (four-pin for input, six-pin for output), along with a single phono connector for component. Originally, A/V Link was only going to provide component input, but ADS has decided to add output as well - using the same phono connector.
The box has an analogue/DV mode selector and comes with a trailing external power supply and three 2m connection cables - S-video, plus double-four and double-six FireWire leads.
Ulead's VideoStudio 6 video editor (review, April 2002, p42) includes a wizard with basic authoring capabilities, including menus, chapter-points and direct-from-timeline burning to VCD, S-VCD and DVD.
In addition to FireWire ports, system requirements are a G3 processor (we'd say a G4) and OS 9.x up to OS 10.2 for Mac, and a 400MHz CPU (650MHz we reckon) and Win98SE or later for Windows.

ADS Tech Europe, 0035 361 702042;

Partition magic!

Drive Image 7 backs up/restores boot disks to FireWire, USB and networking drives under Win XP and 2K

One of CV readers' favourite Windows disk utilities - PowerQuest's Drive Image back up and restore program - is set to become far more convenient and far more flexible, though only for users of Windows XP and 2000.
Version 7, SRP £40 (inc VAT), can create images of XP or 2K drive partitions that have open files, including active boot partitions, and without needing to shut Windows and boot into DOS.
The program can write images to drives connected by FireWire or USB - including DVD burners in the four main formats - and also to drives on networks. SCSI disks, and drives connected via laptop PC PCMCIA slots are also supported. Although restoring a boot partition will, as in previous versions, require a reboot, V7 boots from the supplied program/restore CD. This runs a cut-down version of Win XP with native drivers for networks and multiple disk drive connection types.
Drives will be using Windows own fast drivers all of the time - so creating and restoring images should be much quicker than with previous versions that required DOS. And, the program can run in the background to carry out scheduled back-ups even of boot drives - though don't go backing up while editing video.
V7 has a simplified Win XP-look interface with a task-pane for quick access to help pages and links to the most common jobs - including copying one drive to another when upgrading to a bigger hard disk. Images can be mounted as virtual drives, enabling files to be copied or opened, and, says PowerQuest, even for virus checks and some programs to be run.
V7 supports extended Linux file systems - Ext3 and ReiserFS - in addition to FAT, FAT32, NTFS and Linux Ext2/SWAP. Although the current version of Drive Image (2002) is being replaced by V7, users of Windows versions other than XP and 2K aren't being abandoned. V2002 will be included with V7 and is what will be installed under non-XP/2K Windows. If users do upgrade to XP or 2K, they'll be then be able to install V7.


Pioneer DVD about face

Latest ATAPI burner from DVD- stalwart supports DVD+, as well as DVD-

Pioneer, the company seen as the driving force behind the success of DVD-R/-RW, has carried out an astonishing about turn, announcing the summer launch of an ATAPI writer that burns to DVD+R/+RW as well as the two DVD- formats.
The DVR-A06 (SRP still unknown) looks likely to take over from the DVR-A05 DVD-R/-RW burner (review, March 2003, p38). Its DVD write speeds are said to be, DVD-R (4x), DVD-RW (2x), +R (4x) and +RW (2.4x). Write speeds are 16x for CD-R and 10x for CD-RWs. To avoid failed burns, writing to discs of all formats is protected by buffer under-run prevention.
DVD read speeds are given as, 6x for 4x DVD-Rs; 2x DVD-RWs and all + media; 2x for other writable DVDs; 2x for DVD Video (single-layer and dual); 12x for single-layer DVD-ROMs; and 8x for dual-layer. For CD, the figures are, CD-R/-RW/-ROM (32x); Video CD (4x); and Audio CD (10x).
The drive will be bundled with a suite of Pinnacle editing and authoring/burning software for Windows - Studio 8 SE, Instant CD/DVD, Expression and InstantCopy 7 SE. Two Maxell blank discs will also be included - a DVD-R (4x) and a DVD-RW (2x).
Minimum requirements are reckoned to be a 500MHz PIII processor, Windows 98SE or later, 128MB of RAM (256MB recommended) and - for those who want to edit - a 10GB (or larger) hard disk.

Pioneer, 01753 789789;

Pocket-sized DVD-RW burners

LaCie adds DVD-R/-RW drives to rugged PocketDrive range

Two portable external DVD-R/-RW burners - one FireWire, the other USB 2 - are joining LaCie's PocketDrive range at SRPs of £269 (inc VAT).
Each weighs 640g, measures 31(h) x 152(w) x 158(d)mm, and carries the distinctive blue protective bumper used on other PocketDrive models. Other shared features include a 2MB buffer and write speeds of 2x for DVD-R blanks, 1x for DVD-RW, 16x for CD-R, and 10x for CD-RW. Read speeds are 8x for DVD-ROMs and 24x for CD-ROMs.
The FireWire PocketDrive DVD-RW, which is designed to run from a powered six-pin FireWire port, comes with Mac software - Pixela's CaptyDVD for entry-level DVD authoring and a lite version of Roxio's Toast for CD/DVD recording. The USB2 PocketDrive DVD-RW, in contrast, has to run from the supplied mains adaptor and comes with Windows entry-level DVD authoring software - Sonic MyDVD. Also supplied in each case are LaCie's CD Utilities CD-ROM and an appropriate data cable.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000;

Plextor dual-interface +R/+RW burner

External high-speed DVD+R/+RW burner has FireWire and USB 2.0 connections

Plextor's PX-504UF (SRP £264 inc VAT) is an external DVD+R/+RW burner with connections for FireWire and USB 2.0. What the company has done is mount its PX-504A 5.25in ATAPI EIDE burner (street price £180) into a silver case with a dual interface.
Specs take in a 2MB buffer, high-speed writing at 4x to DVD+R, at 2.4x to DVD+RW, at 16x to CD-R and 10x to CD-RW discs. Read speeds are reckoned to be up to 12x for DVDs and 40x for CDs.
The burner only comes with Windows software. There's Pinnacle Studio 8 SE for editing and authoring discs, and two Ahead programs, Nero CD/DVD for copying and mastering, and InCD for drag-and-drop packet writing to rewritable media. CyberLink's PowerDVD player is included too, along with cables for FireWire and USB, an external power adaptor, and two blank discs - one DVD+R and one DVD+RW.
Plextor says that the burner itself supports DVD+VR writing - for adding, editing, partial deleting and partial over-writing of DVD+RW discs - but none of the supplied software offers DVD+VR capabilities. Candidates include Ulead MSP 7 (review, p28). The hardware uses PowerRec (Plextor Optimised Writing Error Reduction Control) technology to prevent writing errors during high-speed recording - with help from a 2MB data cache.
The burner has rear analogue and digital (SPDIF) audio outputs, and an option for selecting the tone of audio output using software included on the supplied drive utilities suite.


Multi-format NEC DVD burner

NEC high-speed DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW ATAPI burner

NEC's latest IDE/ATAPI DVD burner supports high speed writing to DVD+ and DVD- media. Claimed write speeds for the MultiSpin 4x DVD+/- Writer (model ND1300, SRP £260 inc VAT), are DVD-R/+R (4x), DVD-RW (2x) and DVD+RW (2.4x). For CD, write speeds are CD-R (16x) and CD-RW (10x).
To avoid failed burns, and take account of disc imperfections such as fingerprints, the device uses NEC's ACTOPC technology. This is said to monitor writing, power and reflection of the media; and then to calculate the best laser power and adjust it - and all of this is reckoned to happen in real time.
DVD read speeds are given as, 12x for DVD media and 40x for CDs. Supported media includes 8cm and 12cm DVD-ROM, DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, CD-ROM, CD-R/-RW.
The ND1300 has digital and line outputs, comes with two blank discs (4x +R and 2.4/2X +RW), data and audio cables, screw set and a bundle of software. Sonic MyDVD 4 is included for DVD authoring/burning; Ahead Nero 5 for CD/DVD burning; Ahead InCD 2.0 for packet writing; ArcSoft ShowBiz for video editing; and Sonic CinePlayer for DVD video.
Minimum requirements are said to be a 400MHz PII processor(at least a 600MHz PIII for video editing), 256MB of RAM and any version of Windows after Windows 98SE and Windows NT 4.0.

NEC, 020 8752 3535;

High-speed +R/+RW Ricoh

DVD+R/+RW burner writes to high-speed media

Ricoh's latest ATAPI DVD burner, the MP5163A-DP (SRP £200 inc VAT), is said to support 4x writing to DVD+R and 2.4x rewriting to DVD+RW media.
The burner is reckoned to write at 16x to CD-R and at 10x to CD-RW, and has Ricoh's JustLink technology to prevent buffer under-run write errors. Read speeds are given as 12x for DVD+R/+RW/+ROM media and 40x for CD-R/-RW/-ROM discs.
The drive comes with Ahead's Windows software - Nero Burning ROM for CD/DVD mastering; InCD for drag-and-drop data copying to DVD+RW and CD-RW discs (but not DVD-R or CD-R); and Nero Vision Express for DVD authoring. InterVideo's WinDVD for DVD playback is included, too, along with quick start instructions, a PDF manual, data and audio cables, mounting screws and eight blank discs - five DVD+R, one DVD+RW, one CD-R and one CD-RW.
System requirements are said to be a 700MHz PIII CPU (1GHz recommended); Windows (from 95 OSR 2 to XP); 128MB RAM (256MB recommended); and 5GB of HDD space (for DVD creation).

Ricoh (Computer Connections), 01423 704700;

Video editing graphics cards

Matrox Millennium P-Series supports dual-displays; P750 adds third output and TV-out editing preview

Matrox's Millennium dual-head graphics cards have long been favourites among video editors, so readers are likely to welcome the arrival of the Millennium P-Series 64MB cards - the triple-head P750 (£203 inc VAT) and dual-head P650 (£137).
Each supports two digital (DVI) monitors, or two analogue (RGB), or one of each. The third output on the P750, as on the company's Parhelia cards (which sell for £280 with 128MB of RAM or £425 with 256MB), is for an RGB monitor or a TV set/video monitor.
The TV output allows previews from compatible video editing programs to be seen full-screen on an attached monitor (or recorded to analogue tape - audio coming via the PC's sound card). The P650 can also provide a TV output - requiring an optional cable (price still unknown) - but this, seemingly, won't be usable with editing program previews, only for watching DVDs or a display of the desktop on a big-screen TV set.
It's not yet clear what programs will be able to take advantage of the P750's TV output - hopefully, it will be no worse than with Parhelia. Out of the box, Parhelia supports Avid Xpress DV and Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7 (review, p28). Other programs, and there are not yet many of them, require either a free downloadable Matrox plug-in or specific Matrox drivers. Plug-ins are available for Adobe After Effects 5.5, LightWave Discreet 3ds max (V4.3 on) and Newtek LightWave, as well as for Adobe PhotoShop 6 and 7. Compatible drivers are available for Softimage XSI 3.0.
The smaller amount of RAM with the new cards means that they can't support dual-RGB displays at resolutions as high as Parhelia can - they offer 1,920 x 1,440 pixels, rather than 2,048 x 1,536. Otherwise, max resolutions are the same - 2,048 x 1,536 with a single monitor, 1,600 x 1,200 with dual DVI, and 1,280 x 1,024 for triple-head RGB. Refresh rates range from 85Hz (2,048 x 1,536) to 200Hz (640 x 480).
Each Millennium card supports all AGP 2.0 card slots from 1x speed up to 8x, and uses DDR memory, a 128-bit DDR memory bus, and a 256-bit graphics processor. They're OpenGL 1.3 and DirectX 8.1 compliant, and feature dual independent hardware overlays for video, and dual-display colour calibration. Minimum system requirements are Windows XP, 2000, NT 4.0 or Linux; a 600MHz processor; and 128MB of RAM.

Matrox, 01753 665500;

LaCie giant high-speed HDDs

Hard disks in LaCie d2 range include 500GB high-speed drives - FireWire 2 and FireWire 2/USB 2 combi

LaCie's d2 range of external drives includes hard disks that connect by two versions of FireWire (standard, IEEE1394a; and high-speed, IEEE1394b), USB 2.0, and combinations of FireWire and USB 2.
Range leader is a 500GB/7,200rpm drive (£820) with a dual high-speed interface, and containing, we assume, two 250GB HDDs.
There are four 7,200rpm models with dual high-speed interfaces. The range-leading 500GB drive has an 8MByte buffer, as does a 250GB drive (£457), while 200GB (£363) and 400GB (£657) models have 2MByte.
Each unit carries a single USB 2.0 port and two backwardly-compatible IEEE1394b ports offering, in theory, bandwidth of 800Mbps (100MBps) - twice that of IEEE1394a, not that any standard FireWire drive we've tested has ever got close to 400Mbps. They're fitted with Oxford Semiconductor's 922 FireWire 800 chips paired with Texas Instruments' S800 1394b PHY/link interfaces.
Four other models have FireWire 2 interfaces but no USB. These are the 200GB (£299) and 400GB (£549) drives centred on 7,200rpm HDDs with 8MB caches; and 250GB (£329) and 500GB (£649) 5,400rpm/2MB drives.
Drives connecting by high-speed FireWire require a computer running Mac OS X (V10.1.x or later), or Windows XP/2000, and fitted with suitable second-generation interfaces. There's no shortage of USB 2 card options but far fewer high-speed FireWire cards - LaCie, though, does sell a Mac/Windows PCI card that goes out for around £80.
The rest of the range is said to be compatible with Mac OS 8.6 or later, and Windows 98 or later. The three largest standard FireWire drives - 250GB, 400GB (£528) and 500GB (£704) - have 8MB buffers. The others have 2MB buffers and offer capacities of 80GB (£157), 120GB (£181), 160GB (£204) and 200GB (£246).
Each model is housed in an aluminium case and can be stacked, rack-mounted or sat on edge on a desktop. Data cables are included in pack, along with LaCie's Storage Utilities. This provides Silverlining Pro (Mac OS 9) and SilverKeeper easy backup for OS 9 and OS X, plus the deservedly much maligned Silverlining 98 (Win 98SE and ME).

LaCie, 020 7872 8000;

Read more news in August 2003's Computer Video magazine.


Recent features...
View the archive

Reviewed in August's issue:

Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7
Roxio WinOnCD 6 DVD Edition
Pinnacle Hollywood FX Pro 4.6

In August's news:

Analogue/DV on OHCI-compliant card
Avid Xpress Pro professional encoding
Component<>DV conversion on a budget
Partition magic!
Pioneer DVD about face
Pocket-sized DVD-RW burners
Plextor dual-interface +R/+RW burner
Multi-format NEC DVD burner
High-speed +R/+RW Ricoh
Video editing graphics cards
LaCie giant high-speed HDDs

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