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Apple back in
the race with G5s
dual-2GHz PowerMac tops G5 64-bit-processor trio
Having been left
trailing for too long in the processor-speed stakes by Intel and AMD,
Apple is coming back into the running with the August launch of three
PowerMac desktop PCs centred on new IBM-built 64-bit G5 processors.
Fastest processor in the initial line-up is rated at 2GHz, and two are
built into the range-leading PowerMac to give performance claimed as
better than that of a dual-Intel Xeon 3.06MHz PC. Price, without monitor,
will be £2,300 (inc VAT). The other PowerMacs are single-processor
models, one 1.8GHz (£1,850), the other 1.6GHz (£1,550).
As usual, all the newcomers are edit-ready, being equipped with FireWire
and coming with Apple's iLife suite of video-editing, DVD-creation and
Carrying on from the last generation of PowerMacs, the machines have
two types of FireWire port - standard (400Mbit/sec) IEEE 1394a, and
the newer (800Mbit/sec) IEEE 1394b - which Apple calls FireWire 400
Looking down the list of selling points, it's hard to find any other
modern technology that's not been built in somewhere. The top model's
motherboard has a 1GHz front-side bus and a dual-channel memory interface;
bus speed is 900MHz and 800MHz on the single-processor systems. The
top two models can take a whopping 8GByte of 400MHz 128-bit DDR SDRAM,
though come with 512MByte as standard. The base model has 256MByte of
333MHz SDRAM, and is limited to 4GByte in total - twice as much as current
Mac 32-bit systems can hold.
The two leading machines have three 64-bit PCI-X card expansion slots
- one 133MHz and two 100MHz; the base model has three 33MHz/64-bit slots.
Each machine has an 8x AGP port fitted with a 64MByte graphics card
- an ATI Radeon 9600 Pro in the dual model and an nVidia GeForce FX
5200 Ultra in the others.
Hard disk drives are of the new Serial ATA standard - there's an 80GByte
drive in the base model and a 160GByte drive in each of the others.
Naturally, DVD burners - SuperDrives, in Apple's parlance - are built-in.
Initially, it looks as though Apple is sticking with the proven Pioneer
DVR-105 (review, March 2003, p38), though this may change when Pioneer's
four-way burner, the DVR-106 (news, August 2003, p8; review, next month),
starts to come available in volume.
The G5s come in newly-designed aluminium cases. These have ventilation
holes across almost the entire facia and are divided into four thermal
zones cooled by nine, quiet, low-speed fans (total claimed noise rating
32dB), with ducting on the motherboard for further airflow control.
Three ports are located at the front of the case for easy access - one
FireWire 400, one USB 2.0 and a headphone socket. Around the back there's
another FireWire 400, a single FireWire 800, two USB 2.0s and sockets
for the built-in modem, Gigabit Ethernet, and analogue and optical (SPDIF)
audio in/out - with support for 5.1 surround sound. All are wireless-ready,
with built-in aerials, and can be equipped with AirPort Extreme (based
on 802.11g) or Bluetooth hardware.
Until the launch of an operating system with full 64-bit support - OS
10.3 (Panther), due towards the end of the year, the 64-bit Macs will
be loaded with a tweaked version of OS 10.2.x - code-named Smeagol -
said to be able to take advantage of the available high bandwidths.
Apple UK, 0800 783
of Adobe Premiere promises ever-keener competition
While Adobe Premiere
isn't going to have an easy time of it in the next year or so, expectations
of its rapid decline from prominence in the face of strong competition
on the Windows platform - from Canopus Edius, Pinnacle Edition 5 and
Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7 - may turn out to be misplaced.
The huge list of new and extended features available in the forthcoming
version 7 - Premiere Pro as Adobe is calling it - shows that the program
(likely price £620, inc VAT) still has much to offer, though only
to users of Windows XP; the program won't run on any other version of
Windows, and isn't expected to appear soon - if ever at all - on the
Apple Mac platform.
A new-look interface includes a completely reworked timeline and a floating
multi-function toolbar. The timeline no longer offers a two-track, A-B,
method of applying transitions. And, it effectively has an unlimited
number of tracks because, as with Pinnacle Edition and Apple Final Cut
Pro, timelines can be nested within one another.
The audio side has been greatly beefed up, too. V7 will provide sample-level
audio editing, and support two key industry standards - the Asio multi-channel
audio transfer protocol, and VST plug-in filters. The mixer gains surround
sound controls - with Minnetonka's Surcode AC-3 surround sound encoder
built-in (review, June 03, p46). Users will have three free encodes
before having to pay a US$299 registration fee.
From Adobe's perspective, the headline feature is what it calls a render-free
editing experience. It looks as though it will be possible to preview
all basic transitions and effects in real-time within the program and
on a video monitor connected to the PC's FireWire card - though a fast
processor (or two) will be needed to take best advantage. Much of the
credit for improved real-time capabilities can be attributed to the
program's adoption of native YUV processing - rather than RGB.
Full DVD authoring is not part of V7 - Adobe wants users to buy its
forthcoming dedicated authoring program Encore DVD (news, June 2003,
p7) - but Pro does gain two-pass MPEG-2 encoding, and will offer direct-to-DVD
export for distributing or archiving DVD-compliant MPEG files, as well
as being able to export directly into Encore. Export generally has been
improved, and V7 will be able to output Windows Media 9, RealMedia 9
and AAF - improving its suitability for web-related work.
Pro will also be tightly integrated with other Adobe programs. It can
import layered Photoshop files as sequences with layers arranged on
separate tracks; and is set to work hand-in-glove with V6 of Adobe After
Effects, due to be introduced at much the same time (news, p8).
Adobe, 0870 6060325;
War and peace
war on Premiere Pro with £39 Edition software offer, while Canopus
welcomes it and promises support
Adobe Premiere Pro
has been greeted very differently by two companies with competing editing
software - Pinnacle and Canopus.
Moving onto a war-footing, Pinnacle is offering the standard version
of its own editing software - Edition 5 - for just £39 (inc VAT),
a saving of over £460! However, the offer is only open to registered
owners of two Pinnacle cards that use Premiere - the DV500 and Pro-ONE.
As well as hoping to lure these Premiere users over to Edition 5, Pinnacle
is trying to recompense DV500 and Pro-ONE owners who might want to upgrade
their current versions of Premiere to Pro and use it with their Pinnacle
hardware - something that won't be possible, because Pinnacle isn't
going to provide the necessary drivers.
Even so, Pinnacle says it will continue to fully support existing customers
with versions of Premiere up to 6.5. For more about the offer - which
runs until September 2003 - contact a local dealer or visit, www.pinnaclesys.com/powerof5,
where it's also possible to order for free a trial version of Edition
and a 'Discover Edition' training CD. Also see our review this month
(p24) of Edition 5 Pro.
In contrast, and despite its recent launch of the Edius video editing
program, Canopus says that it will fully support Adobe Premiere Pro
on two current cards, DVStorm2 and DVRaptor RT2, and offer it as option
on these cards later in the summer. Canopus has also complemented Adobe
for re-engineered Premiere 'with an approach that delivers a wealth
of features now and shows great potential for the future.'
Adobe After Effects 6
V6 of Adobe's special
effects program offers improved usability, greater speed and new features
- at lower price
When serious video
editors sit down to talk, they'll often separate into two groups - those
who use and venerate After Effects, and those who failed to penetrate
its forbidding interface, think life is too short to edit video frame-by-frame,
or aren't willing to pay Adobe's inflated prices.
But, with the summer arrival of V6 of Adobe's special effects program,
the user group looks set to grow considerably. Version 6 has a lot of
intriguing new features but, more importantly, is far easier to use
than its predecessors (though remains far from trivial), previews changes
a lot faster and is more affordable than before. The pro version will
go out for £1,170 (inc VAT) and standard for £650 - considerably
more than in the USA ($999 and $699).
The revised user interface will force doubters to think again. It's
more intuitive than in earlier versions, thanks to design improvements
of many different function windows, and a dozen and one other refinements
- including expanded tool tips, context-sensitive menus, and detailed
online Help. Adobe lists the enhanced user interface last in its overview
of the top 10 new features. We'd place it at the top, closely followed
by the massive improvement in rendering speed. This is brought about
largely by new support for OpenGL and makes live previews possible on
fast PCs and further helps make the program feel more usable.
Of the many new features, the most intriguing is the program's text-animation
engine, the like of which we've never seen before. It's possible to
easily animate individual characters, words or lines within a single
text layer and to speedily produce stunning 2D and 3D motion titles
and idents - with all text remaining fully editable throughout.
Text and graphics capabilities have been improved in another way, by
the addition of liquefy, warp and scribble effects using a vector-based
engine that shares many elements with Photoshop.
Importantly, Adobe promises far better integration with projects created
in the new WinXP-only version of the company's video editing program,
Premiere Pro - due out at the same time (news, p7). With earlier versions,
many of the properties of a Premiere project would be lost when brought
into After Effects. With the latest versions of the two programs, though,
it will be possible, Adobe claims, to bring in nested sequences - which
will be seen as nested compositions - and to maintain keyframes on transparency,
cross-dissolves and motion changes, and to have cropping appear as a
Better integration with Photoshop is promised to deliver fully editable
text in imported files (with formatting preserved), and the preservation
of layers when multiple Photoshop files are imported as a sequence.
Users will also be able to choose whether or not to resize imported
layered files to match the dimensions of an After Effects composition.
Additional features available only on the Professional version of After
Effects include scripted automation of rendering queues; a 2D motion
tracker that's said to be up to 30 times faster than before; and a high-quality
bought-in keying engine. This looks to offer something close to one-click
keying while still offering a huge range of manual controls.
Adobe, 0870 6060325;
Pinnacle buys Dazzle
Dazzle to become outright market leader in consumer video editing hardware
buying spree continues with its acquistion of the Dazzle consumer video
editing business from SCM Microsystems - a move that makes Pinnacle
the run-away market leader in consumer hardware, as well as software.
In exchange for $21.5 million of Pinnacle Systems' common stock, SCM
delivers to Pinnacle - the software market leader - a hardware line-up
that has a leading share in many countries. In the USA and UK, for instance,
Dazzle holds over 50 per cent by volume of the low-end video editing
hardware market, mostly external USB solutions, but also supplemented
by its long-established Hollywood DV Bridge analogue<>DV converter.
Pinnacle says it will continue selling and supporting Dazzle products
through its network of retailers and resellers. The deal is expected
to be completed by the end of September, and means Pinnacle will 'acquire
selected assets and liabilities, including all product rights, inventory,
intellectual property, trade names and other rights related to the business'.
Dazzle, +49 89 95
95 5000; www.dazzle.com/main.html
Pinnacle, 01895 424228; www.pinnaclesys.co.uk
Lite Storm 2
version of Canopus's RT analogue/DV editing solution lacks hardware
With a likely street
price of around £630 (inc VAT), Canopus's latest real-time analogue/DV
editing solution, DVStorm 2 Lite, offers a saving of about £300
compared with DVStorm 2 (review, April 2003, p32), or £200 compared
with the version which, like Lite, comes without Adobe Premiere 6.5.
Lite is said to provide all the real-time editing capabilities of Storm
2 but, on the downside, lacks high-speed MPEG-1/2 hardware encoding
- MPEG conversions are instead carried out in software by Canopus's
Other Canopus MPEG tools are also included - MpegCutter for trimming
MPEG clips; MpegRe-encoder for high-speed conversions of high bit-rate
files to lower bit-rates; and MpegExplorer for desktop search and preview
of MPEG files. Also provided is Ulead DVD Workshop SE, for authoring
and burning DVDs and Video CDs, plus Canopus's basic editing program,
Storm Edit, and the company's DV capture tool.
For 3D effects, the bundle has Canopus Xplode and a lite version of
Ulead's Cool 3D Production Suite - previously known as Cool 3D Studio
(review, July 2003, p28) - while Sonic Foundry's Acid Style audio software
is bundled for producing simple music tracks.
Other features common to both DVStorm 2 versions include render-free
DV output; real-time colour correction with waveform/vectorscope; one-click
auto white balancing; and DV chroma-keying.
Canopus UK, 0118
921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com
JVC MPEG-2 widescreen camcorder
JVC claims true
16:9 recording and frame-accurate editing with MiniDV-based progressive-scan
Quite a few semi-pro
camcorders are reckoned to record widescreen footage, but none do it
quite like JVC's latest camcorder, the GR-PD1, or will look quite so
attractive to videographers who want to make widescreen-format DVDs.
The camcorder, expected to go out for under £3,000 (inc VAT),
uses an appropriately-shaped (1280x659 pixel) area on its CCD image
sensor and saves video as editable MPEG-2 on standard MiniDV tape -
though it can also record in 4:3 format, either as MPEG-2 or standard
It comes with software developed by KDDI R&D Laboratories that's
said to provide frame-accurate editing of the recorded MPEG-2 footage.
The program, MPEG Edit Studio Pro 1.0 LE, is also used to edit footage
from JVC's JY-HD10 MPEG-cam, the high-definition big-brother to the
A capture/playback module is integrated into the program to bring footage
in to a Windows XP PC by FireWire, and put it out again to the camcorder
or a D-VHS VCR. As a final touch, the program can convert the editable
MPEG-2 TS (transport stream - six-frame group of pictures) files that
it captures into PS (program stream) format usable by Pixela's ImageMixer
DVD authoring program - which JVC also supplies.
Despite having just one CCD imager, the GR-PD1 is said to offer colour
resolution on a par with that of three-chip DV camcorders, thanks to
a JVC-developed pixel-shifting technology, and the use of progressive
scanning that samples the entire picture in one go, rather than as two
The camcorder has an f1.8-f1.9 10x optical zoom lens promising consistent
brightness throughout its range, and has a trio of analogue video outputs
- S-video and composite video, plus component (Y/PB/PR) progressive
output for use on modern high-frequency plasma screens, LCD and CRT
TV sets, projection systems, and (naturally) JVC's latest PAL Progressive
Also on the features list are JPEG stills shooting at a resolution of
1,280x960 pixels; manual focus and zoom rings; auto/manual exposure
and white balance; a 3.5in (200k pixel) colour LCD, together with a
0.44in (113k) colour viewfinder; plus a USB port for using the camcorder
as a webcam with the supplied drivers. Weight, with battery and tape
is 1.5kg, and dimensions are 99(h) x 115(w) x 272(d)mm.
JVC, 0870 330 5000;
world's first five-way DVD-R/-RW/-RAM/+R/+RW burner
The arrival of Iomega's
latest ATAPI internal DVD burner - a high-speed, four-way model that
goes out for around £175 (inc VAT) - has been rather overshadowed
by the company's announcement in the USA of a world-first, a burner
that adds a fifth format, DVD-RAM, and is due there in August (SRP US$330)
and in Europe the following month.
Burn speeds of the five-way Iomega Super DVD Writer are said to be 4x
for DVD-R and DVD+R, 3x for DVD-RAM, 2.4x for DVD+RW and 2x for DVD-RW.
CD-Rs are said to burn at 24x, and CD-RWs at 16x. Read speeds are given
as 12x for DVD and 32x for CD.
The currently available four-way Iomega Dual DVD Drive is similar in
most respects, apart from lacking DVD-RAM, and having slightly slower
CD writing - CD-R at 16x and CD-RW at 10x. It's bundled with Iomega's
HotBurn Pro software for simple CD and DVD burning that works with Iomega's
Automatic Backup tool for automatic file backup.
The latest version of Sonic MyDVD is included for DVD authoring. Sonic
Cineplayer, MusicMatch and Adobe ActiveShare are also bundled for disc
playback, music and photo management. Also in-pack are EIDE audio cables,
mounting screws, and a Quick Install guide.
A similar software bundle looks set to be included with the five-way
model, which is likely to share the same minimum system requirements
as the four-way model - Windows 98; a 300MHz PIII processor; and 75MByte
hard disk space for software installation.
Iomega, 020 7365
DVD burners fitted to edit-ready GRT700 series Vaios
DVD burners come as standard on a trio of Sony Vaio edit-ready P4 laptop
VAT-inclusive prices for the stylish FireWire-equipped PCG-GRT700 series
Windows XP PCs are £1,802 for the range-leading GRT716S (2.8GHz
P4, 512MByte DDR SDRAM, 60GByte HDD), £1,503 for the GRT715M (2.8GHz,
512MByte, 40GByte) and £1,395 for the GRT715E (2.66GHz, 256MByte,
40GByte). RAM in each case can be expanded to 1GByte.
Burner write speeds are said to be 1x for DVD-R and DVD-RW, 2x for DVD+R
and DVD+RW, and 24x for CD. The software bundle provided with each Vaio
includes Sony's entry-level authoring program, Click to DVD, and a lite
version of Adobe's Premiere 6.0 video editor.
Click to DVD offers menu-based disc creation from saved MPEG content,
along with one-click, direct-to-DVD recording from a DV device connected
via FireWire - though the encoded footage is burnt to disc without menus.
The software bundle is completed by Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, Acrobat
5.1, Drag'n'Drop CD+DVD, DVgate, PictureGear Studio, QuickTime 5, SonicStage,
Windows Media Player 9, RealOne player, and Vaio Media AV tools.
A major selling point is the displays - using Sony-developed Onyx Black
LCD screen technology that's said to produce crisp, bright, high-contrast
images. The screen on the 716S is a 16in SXGA+ (1,400x1,050 resolution),
the others use 15in XGA displays (1,028x768). Screens on the top two
machines are driven by Nvidia GeForce FX Go5600 graphics processors
with 64MByte of video RAM, while the base model uses a 32MByte GeForce4
420 Go graphics board.
In addition to a single four-pin FireWire port, each Vaio has three
USB 2.0 ports; connectors for a printer and built-in Ethernet and modem;
AV-out (TV and line-output); and one socket for a microphone and another
for speaker/headphone output - audio is 16-bit CD-quality and said to
support surround sound.
Two PC Card (PCMCIA) slots and a MagicGate Memory Stick port are also
standard, as are lithium ion batteries - with claimed life of two hours
and 21 minutes on the 716S, and one hour and 45 minutes with the others.
The 16in screen on the 716S makes it slightly larger overall than its
stable-mates - 357(w) x 45(h) x300(d)mm, rather than 327(w) x 44(h)
x272(d)mm - and, at 3.9kg, 700g heavier.
08705 111999; www.sony.co.uk
Read the full
review in September 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in September's
Edition 5 Pro
Archos DEx DVD-RW 2
PowerQuest Drive Image 7
back in the race with G5s
War and peace
Adobe After Effects 6
Pinnacle buys Dazzle
Lite Storm 2
JVC MPEG-2 widescreen camcorder
Iomega five-way DVD burner
Four-way burning Sony laptops