Matrox RT.X100

Self Help | The Magazine | Downloads | Links | Tips & Advice | Help! I'm new | Contact Us | Subscribe | Home  

Inside the magazine
Self-help message board
Article reprints
How to contact us
Web links directory
Software downloads
Tips and advice
Fire-wire campaign
Subscribe today
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition

In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
Join our ongoing campaign

Matrox RT.X100

Taking a leaf out of Canopus's book, Matrox's latest dual-stream editing card uses software Codecs to take advantage of the speed of modern processors. But does this make it just a me-too product?
Matrox's RT2000, and its replacement, the RT2500, were innovative pieces of hardware, but they had one or two weaknesses compared to some competitors. Pinnacle's Pro-ONE could combine a few more basic effects in real-time, and Canopus's DV Storm had real-time DV output. Matrox's RT2500 was great value, and offered the most extensive collection of 3D video effects, but couldn't be unreservedly recommended for all types of editing. With the RT.X100, Matrox sets out to change all that, but doing so has required a radical change in direction.

Soft approach
Previously, Matrox has relied on hardware for almost all effects and video processing. The RT2500 used a C-Cube chipset to decode two streams of DV or MPEG-2 I-frame video. These were mixed in hardware with 3D effects processed through an on-board G450 graphics accelerator ñ the result being output in real-time via analogue video connections. While this gave dependable performance across a wide range of hardware platforms, the two-stream limitation of the C-Cube chip meant that rendering was required to output DV via FireWire, and upgrading the PC didnít provide any benefit unless a lot of effects were
being used that went beyond the real-time capabilities. With the RT.X100, Matrox has moved the video decoding into software, and added a host of new software-processed effects as well. This, in theory, allows rendering speeds (and editing capabilities) to improve with faster processors.
There are still a few features that remain in hardware, however. A graphics chip - in this case a G550 - is called upon for 3D effects, and a Texas Instruments chipset controls FireWire devices. The C-Cube video Codec is still there, but now it has a different job. Instead of decoding video, it provides two outstanding new features ñ real-time DV output via FireWire, and real-time MPEG-2 encoding from the Premiere timeline. A downside of the C-Cube job-swap is that the RT.X100 doesnít support the RT2500ís MPEG-2 I-frame capture or editing.

Matrox's RT.X100 provides very strong competition for Pinnacle and Canopus, and puts the onus on both competitors to launch new products. Pinnacle's Pro-ONE offers a good general videographerís toolkit, and Canopusís DV Storm is a solid performer for narrative video making, but neither stands up well in comparison with the RT.X100.
With its real-time colour correction and keying, real-time DV and MPEG-2 output, and huge selection of 3D video effects, there's not much the RT.X100 can't do. The only downside is some heavy-duty hardware requirements, but thatís part and parcel of bringing so much functionality into software ñ and besides, powerful PCs are getting cheaper all the time. The next generation of editing cards offering even more streams of video in real-time will require something faster than the 32-bit PCI bus, and thatís a whole new hardware platform for most people. So, the RT.X100 is likely to be the most fully featured editing card for under £1,000 for a while, unless 64-bit adaptors such as Newtekís Video Toaster 2 enter the mainstream. Until then, or until Pinnacle or Canopus strikes back, Matrox's RT.X100 is going to be viewed by many as the king of editing cards.

James Morris

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

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in November's issue:
Pinnacle Studio 8
Epson Stylus Photo 950
Matrox RT.X100

In November's news:
Apple moves to dual-processors
Panasonic £550 set-top DVD-R recorder
Edition upgrade for DV500
JVC FireWire-equipped notebook PCs

Dazzle £99 capture-to-author DVD program
Formac Mac/Win analogue/DV converter
17in widescreen DVD burner Apple iMac
Canon MV5/5i bundled with Pinnacle Studio 7SE
Pinnacle Pro-ONE and DV500 Edition highlight in Evesham Video Tour 2002
Bug fixes for Apple FCP 3.0.2

Contact Us | Subscribe | Home (c) WVIP. Designed by Mark Newman.