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Streaming Media
July 02, 2004

Table of Contents

Sony Introduces New Three-Megapixel Camcorder
Plextor Introduces External DVD+-R/RW Burner With 12X DVD+R Recording Speed
Advanced Media Introduces New Ridata 4X Rewritable Discs
Kano's Double-Sided 9.4GB DVD+R Discs Available Now
Sipex Adds to 16X DVD-Write Support
Verbatim Shipping Certified DVD+R Double Layer Media in Kit for New Double Layer DVD Drives
CyberLink Adds PowerDVD Copy to its Line of DVD Solutions
Media Alert From EZQuest
Squeeze Play: Sorenson Aims High With New Compression Suite

Sony Introduces New Three-Megapixel Camcorder

The new Sony DCR-PC350 MiniDV Handycam has a 3.31-megapixel, single CCD. It will be available in September with an estimated retail price of $1,300. The new unit will come with a Handycam Station, a tabletop cradle for charging and connecting to a TV or PC.

The camcorder's CCD imager reduces noise on still pictures, plus you can select from three still image sizes: 640x480 for sharing as email attachments, in addition to 1600x1200 and 2016x1512 for high-quality prints.

Like a cell phone or PDA cradle, the accompanying Handycam Station charges the DCR-PC350 camcorder and connects it to a TV or PC. The Handycam Station comes with S-video and an audio/video terminal for connecting the unit to a TV, as well as a USB 1.1 port and an i.LINK digital interface for connection to compatible PCs.

The DCR-PC350 camcorder has a new cinematic effect mode that engages the unit's progressive and 16:9 wide modes, creating video while recording at 30 fps. The unit offers the option of precise automatic exposures or the ability to manually adjust for video or stills taken indoors or out. For further control, a videographer can manually initiate a zebra-metering mode to detect overexposed video.

Additional features include:

  • 2.5-inch Precision SwivelScreen Hybrid LCD Display
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo Media Slot
  • 10X Optical/120X Precision Digital Video Zoom
  • Super NightShot Plus 0 Lux Recording system

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Plextor Introduces External DVD+-R/RW Burner With 12X DVD+R Recording Speed

Plextor Corp. has announced the new PX-712UF DVD±R/RW drive with support for high-speed 12X DVD+R and 8X DVD-R recording. A dual interface supports both USB 2.0 and IEEE-1394 FireWire.

In addition to high-speed DVD±R, the PX-712UF also offers 4X DVD+RW and 4X DVD-RW rewriting; and 16X max DVD reading. The DVD/CD burner also has high-speed 48X CD-R writing, 24X CD-RW rewriting, and 48X max CD reading. The drive includes a bundle of Windows-compatible software from Roxio, including Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 DVD Edition, and Roxio PhotoSuite 5 SE. For Macintosh users, Toast Lite versions 5 & 6 are also included.

The PX-712UF has an 8MB buffer and features Buffer Underrun Proof Technology to prevent buffer underrun errors and allow multitasking. Burst data transfer rates of 480Mbps (USB 2.0) or 400Mbps (IEEE-1394 FireWire) allow users to burn a 4.7GB DVD+R disc in approximately six minutes.

Lossless Linking/Zero Link technology enables users to perform basic editing tasks directly on the DVD disc, so there is no need to reload DVD content back to a PC to make minor changes, and no need to re-burn an entire DVD after making small edits.

The PX-712UF also includes PlexTools Professional software to enable a unique combination of user-controllable CD recording and CD/DVD media test features, including:

  • GigaRec allows high capacity storage up to 1GB on a 700MB CD disc.
  • SecuRec offers password protection for CD discs.
  • Q-Check for CD media checks and graphs the results of written disc quality -- C1/C2 errors, track and focus errors, and beta/jitter errors.
  • Q-Check for DVD media checks and graphs the results of written disc quality including PI/PO.
  • Silent Mode enables users to vary tray load/unload speed, spin up/down speed and write/read speeds.

The Plextor PX-712UF DVD±R/RW drive is scheduled for shipment to distributors and resellers in North and South America in August 2004. The PX-712UF drive has an MSRP of $299. All retail packages include unlimited toll-free technical support and one-year full warranty.

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Advanced Media Introduces New Ridata 4X Rewritable Discs

Advanced Media, Inc. has announced the addition of a new 4X DVD-RW optical disc to its RIDATA brand of products. The new disc is available early July.

The new RIDATA 4X DVD-RW disc providing up to two hours of recording time in standard mode and allows up to 1000 rewrites. Its 4.7GB capacity stores over seven times the amount of data that a standard 650MB CD does. Running at 22Mbps, it will write to capacity in approximately 15 minutes.

It supports the Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) code, thus preventing indiscriminate, illegal copying. It adheres to the book DVD specifications for re-recordable disc (v1.1).

Besides the new 4X disc, the RIDATA line includes 1X and 2X DVD-RW discs. The brand also offers DVD and CD media products, including 8X DVD-R, 16X DVD+R, 4X DVD+RW, 3X DVD-RAM, 52X CD-R, and 32X CD-RW. Additionally, it markets other products such as HD DVD, a dual-layer 8.5GB DVD+R, and super-RENs.

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Kano's Double-Sided 9.4GB DVD+R Discs Available Now

Kano Technologies' double-sided 9.4GB DVD+R (DS) discs, for all DVD+ recording applications, are now available directly from Kano. Originally developed by Kano and Verbatim for government imaging and video archiving, ArchivMedia was previously sold only for use with Kano XFiniti DVD libraries. Since introducing ArchivMedia in January, Kano has worked to test and qualify it for a variety of DVD+ desktop recording applications such as custom video production, desktop archiving and backup.

ArchivMedia does not require a DVD burner or player to make sensitive laser power adjustments for recording or play back. It is priced at $6.99 per disc.

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Sipex Adds to 16X DVD-Write Support

Sipex Corporation has announced the SP8127 and SP8127N, two automatic power control (APC) integrated circuits (ICs) engineered to meet the performance requirements of 16X DVD-write drives. These two APCs receive light deflected from the laser diode and enable feedback to insure appropriate laser intensity during write operations. While both the SP8127 and SP8127N offer photo detector sensitivity levels of 5700V/W, the SP8127N has a larger detector active area to accommodate applications where less light is available. Both products also feature differential RF outputs, 5ns settling times, and 100MHz bandwidth.

SP8127 & SP8127N Key Features (Typical)

  • 12dB gain adjust range
  • 100MHz bandwidth
  • 5ns fast settling time
  • Differential outputs
  • 8 pin clear OPLGA packaging, 3.5mm x 3.0mm

The SP8127 and SP8127N are available now and priced at $1.05 in 100,000 piece quantities. An evaluation board is also available to assist in the evaluation of the SP8127/SP8127N.

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Verbatim Shipping Certified DVD+R Double Layer Media in Kit for New Double Layer DVD Drives

Verbatim Corporation has announced the availability of a new Double Layer Solution Kit that provides consumers access to the multiple DVD+R/RW recording formats offered by Double Layer (DL) DVD drives. In addition to a Verbatim 8.5GB DVD+R DL-certified disc, the 10-pack includes eight Verbatim 1-8X DVD+R discs for high-speed recording and one Verbatim 1-4X DVD+RW disc for re-writeable applications. Verbatim has also announced that it is adding an additional Double Layer production line to help meet growing demand.

Manufactured with two AZO recording layers, Verbatim's 2.4x DVD+R DL media nearly doubles the storage capacity on DVD recordable discs from 4.7GB to 8.5GB on a single side. Up to four hours of DVD-quality video, up to 16 hours of VHS-quality video or approximately 2,000 songs in MP3 format can be stored on a single disc.

Verbatim 8.5GB Double-Layer DVD+R media is available through leading retailers such as Best Buy, Internet retailers and distributors across the country. The Double Layer Solution Kit, which includes one DVD+R DL disc, eight 8X DVD+R discs, and one 4X DVD+RW disc, is available with a street price of about $30. All of the discs are in protective jewel cases. Verbatim also produces single DVD+R DL discs in jewel cases which have a street price of about $15 per disc.

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CyberLink Adds PowerDVD Copy to its Line of DVD Solutions

CyberLink Corp. has announced the release of PowerDVD Copy, a new DVD-to-DVD copying tool.

The PowerDVD Copy interface offers many of the features users need on one page. PowerDVD Copy automatically recompresses video content to store non coyright-protected DVD-9 content on 4.7GB discs. Advanced options allow customizing discs with chapters, subtitles, languages, and other special features.

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Media Alert From EZQuest

EZQuest has announced that it is in the process of finalizing its new line of Thunder FireWire 400 and 800 external hard drives for Mac and PC users. The first product will be announced in July, with delivery planned in August.

Over the last 18 months, EZQuest has worked in the non-linear video-editing, computer-animation, pro audio and game-development markets to determine the current and future storage needs in these markets. As a result, the new Thunder drives will meet the storage demands of the major video-editing and 3D animation applications. Thunder drives will also include syncing software.

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Squeeze Play: Sorenson Aims High With New Compression Suite

With a brand-new interface, batch processing, output to major formats, and both high-definition and H.264 capability, the new Squeeze 4 Compression Suite marks Sorenson's latest attempt to go after users who want a compression tool that doesn't bind them to a single codec.

"We're trying to appeal to a broader user base," says product manager Randon Morford, adding that the buzz surrounding HD at this year's NAB confirmed to him that they were headed in the right direction. But while HD is sure to be one of Squeeze 4's selling points, Morford says the company isn't hanging all its hopes on the encoder's multitude of output options. "The codec is the bait, but the application is the hook. We've got all the bait, all the codecs, but without a good hook, you're not going to keep your customers."

The interface and workflow upgrades are significant improvements, regardless of what formats your working with. While Squeeze 4 still includes the familiar Watch folder—where you queue video files to be compressed—Sorenson has added a Batch Tree window. When you drag an uncompressed video clip there, it appears as a Job, onto which you can drag any number of Intelligent Presets (which include format, frame rate, and HD options), as well as any of the four Filters (darken, lighten, generic Web, and VHS to Web).You're not limited to the Intelligent Presets, of course. By double-clicking on any of the formats, you can control data rate, frame size/rate, audio sample size/rate, and encoding method (CBR or VBR), or any other settings a particular codec allows.

All of these changes can be applied locally to a single clip or globally to the entire contents of the Batch Tree window. "If you bring in three different videos you want to encode, you can drag and drop 56Kbps QuickTime on one, but also drag and drop Windows Media 384Kbps on the entire job," Morford says. Squeeze uses color differentiation to indicate which settings are global and which are local. When you click Squeeze It, the application begins compressing and applying filters from top to bottom in the Batch Tree window; while Squeeze is compressing a clip into one format, you can always make changes in the settings for formats it hasn't gotten to yet.

Your clip is displayed in the Preview window, where you can zoom in and out as well as crop your frame. The window is detachable from the interface, so you can watch it full screen or even on another monitor; when you dock it back into the application, it resizes to fit the standard window size.

You can also set in and out markers to do a test run: Select a few seconds of your video and highlight the format, then click Play Preview to see what it will look like. In previous versions of Squeeze, you had to remember to remove those in and out markers when you wanted to do your final compression. "I'd set something to encode overnight, walk away, and then come back in the morning to find out I'd only encoded three seconds," Morford says. Now, the preview markers only create a temporary file, and when you click Squeeze It, the application knows to encode the entire clip.

While some of Sorenson's developers were working on the interface, others were focusing on getting HD and H.264 (AVC) output capability into the latest version of Squeeze. Morford admits that the FCC's digital television mandate is partially behind Sorenson's push for HD, but adds that early market adopters in the consumer space are already looking to make the switch. Still, he says that we're still about five years away from most consumers having HD in their homes, a prediction with which he says his colleagues at Real and Microsoft agree. The inclusion of both HD encoding (for Real, QuickTime, Windows Media, and MPEG-1/2 output) and the MPEG-4-based H.264 output in Squeeze 4, is part of Sorenson's strategy to offer consumers a product that doesn't bind them to any one format. "A lot of hardware vendors are pushing for H.264," Morford says. "They're very wary of being too close to Microsoft and therefore losing control over how they implement their own solutions."

Squeeze 4 is set for final release sometime in Q3 2004, though Sorenson released a beta in mid-July. In our beta tests, we encountered no problems, and the compressions came off without a hitch. It compressed an 86.7MB, 27-second QuickTime movie into 384Kbps MPEG-4, Flash Video, QuickTime, Windows Media, and Real files. The QuickTime compression was the quickest, at 27 seconds, while the Windows Media file took 49 seconds, with negligible picture quality difference. The time and picture quality differential between Real, QuickTime, and Windows encodes at 1080i HD was similarly close.

The Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite will sell for $449 for both Windows and Macintosh (though the Mac version won't include Windows Media 9 output). A Macromedia Flash MX-only version will sell for $119, while an MPEG-4-only version will retail for $199.

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