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ProCoder was launched to much fanfare and greeted with more than a little
disappointment. Can V1.5 half-secure Canopus's place in the video software
There's no doubt
that Canopus makes quality products, but the company's slow entry into
the software market has been a rather shaky one. The backbone for Canopus's
software division was laid in the development of single-purpose tools
and editors for owners of Canopus DV hardware. Video Doctor provided
simple video filters, Xplode provided wild and wacky 3D transition effects,
and SoftMPEG enabled software encoding for DVD at a time when good quality
options were scarce. There was also a first-rate PAL/NTSC conversion
program. Many of these programs have been released in one form or another
for non-Canopus based systems. Video Doctor, SoftMPEG and the video
standards converter make up part of ProCoder's toolkit.
When it was originally launched, there was a huge need for ProCoder
- or any multi-format media encoder - to compete with Cleaner. Cleaner
had changed hands too often, badly needed updating, and its future seemed
uncertain. And while the first release of ProCoder did an excellent
job, there were many disappointments - particularly in the lack of multi-bit-rate
support for RealVideo and Windows Media files, which is an alarming
omission for such an expensive application. Now, it's hoped that ProCoder
1.5 can bring some much-needed competition to the do-it-all encoder
V1.5 isn't a dramatic change from the first release of ProCoder, but
it does address a lot of fundamental concerns and places it in a stronger
position to compete with Cleaner. The program is nicely designed, but
we'd like to see more control over batch lists - assuming that users
might not want to apply all the same output profiles to all source files.
While encoding speeds were pedestrian in our tests, it should be noted
that the system we used is a modest one, and ProCoder will work much
faster on faster machines.
For existing users, upgrading is a no-brainer - it's a free download
from Canopus's website, providing you've registered your existing copy.
For those that haven't yet taken the plunge, a lot of barriers have
been removed, but we feel that the biggest is still there - the price.
ProCoder is obviously priced to compete with Cleaner, but we've long
argued that this is too expensive as well. Canopus seems determined
to maintain an air of market snobbery about its products - as if they're
too good to be in the mainstream. And while there's no doubt that the
company makes good stuff, we can't help but think that a price cut of
£200 would increase ProCoder sales considerably.
Read the full
feature in November 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in November's
Stylus Photo 900
Canopus ProCoder 1.5
Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme
Sony Vaio GRT715M
Snazzi analogue and DV editing
Easy CD/DVD creation
Roxio's Toast for 10
Adobe uses MainConcept
Multi DVD burner/printer
DVD VR to QT under Mac OS
Greater Contour control
Defragmenting -/+VR DVDs