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hardware's not changed, but the new software bundle means that the latest
version of Matrox's RT.X100 offers a whole lot of new and welcome features
Say what you like
about Matrox products, there's no getting away from the fact that buying
one is an investment in an ongoing development process, rather than
a simple purchase of a set of features fixed in stone. The RT2000 gained
huge functionality during its lifetime, mostly as free (albeit gigantic)
Similarly, many new effects were added to the RT2500 after its initial
release, and that tradition is being continued with the launch of Xtreme
drivers for the RT.X100. As we said last month, the new drivers came
just in the nick of time, what with the arrival of V5 of Edition, and
Canopus introducing its own editing program, too. Xtreme is much more
than a bunch of new effects. The underlying drivers have been re-engineered
for increased productivity and to take advantage of ever-increasing
All RT.X100s purchased from now on will include the Xtreme drivers,
and there are three different versions of the bundle - with or without
Premiere 6.5, and with or without Sonic ReelDVD Studio, although you
can't seem to buy it with neither. Existing owners get the entire Xtreme
functionality for free, and can buy ReelDVD retail for a special price
of $399. ReelDVD Studio owners can get the retail version for $199.
It's worth bearing in mind that the free Xtreme drivers are a massive
312MByte download, so broadband is a necessity to download the update.
Existing RT2x00 owners can trade in their old cards and get RT.X100
Xtreme for a reduced price of £399, too.
Anyone upgrading needs to ensure that the previous X Tools and all add-in
effects have been removed prior to installing the new drivers. Other
than that, we found the update process smooth on our test system, although
some projects created using the previous drivers wouldn't load properly.
For new users, the same considerations apply as with the original RT.X100.
Although the minimum spec is not outrageous by today's standards - a
1.8GHz Pentium 4, an Athlon XP 1500+ or 1GHz Pentium III, and 512MByte
of RAM - something a lot better is required to feel the full benefit
of the X100's full capabilities.
For now, the RT.X100 just about manages to remain cutting edge, but
Pinnacle's Edition has shown the writing on the wall. The limitations
of the PCI bus architecture will eventually reduce the potential development
of Xtreme, even though differences aren't that pronounced for the time
being. Of course, Matrox almost certainly has something new up its sleeve
- for starters, Premiere Pro support will be available soon after the
new Adobe editor becomes available. But Matrox is rumoured to be concentrating
on its ageing Digisuite range for the next major technological push.
Still, any improvements on one product line generally make their way
fairly rapidly to the other - in some shape or form - so the X100 should
see some benefit, too. Until then, Xtreme delivers enough, particularly
for existing users, to keep RT.X100 a powerful and productive editing
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