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November 19, 2004

Table of Contents

FOCUS Enhancements MX-4 Digital Video Mixer Now Shipping
SONY Introduces Mac-Compatible Dual Layer DVD Burner
VFGadgets Introduces the “Hang N Shoot”
EnXnet, Inc. Announces Corporate Disk Manufacturing Contract
CyberLink InstantBurn Unveils Packet-Writing Software
Digital Cube Launches I-Station
Slim Devices Introduces CD Ripping Service
Plextor Introduces USB 2.0 Personal Video Recorder
DVD+R DL Playback Compatibility Report, Part Two

FOCUS Enhancements MX-4 Digital Video Mixer Now Shipping

FOCUS Enhancements, Inc. has announced the availability of the MX-4, a production mixer that delivers video and graphics for live events. The MX-4 delivers 10-bit 4:2:2 digital video with comb filter circuitry. FOCUS Enhancements' MX-4 includes a processor with flash-upgradeable memory, built-in foreground, and background graphics store, Ethernet connectivity for computer and network use, over 700 transitions, input effects with preview, and picture-in-picture capabilities.

The MX-4 Digital Video Mixer is available for a suggested retail price of $2,195 and has a two-year limited warranty.

www.focusinfo.com

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SONY Introduces Mac-Compatible Dual Layer DVD Burner

Sony's dual layer DVD burning technology will be available in Macs with the DRX-710UL-T. . Sony's external dual- layer DVD drive will begin shipping next month with Roxio's Toast 6 Lite for Mac compatibility. The drive will allow them to record up to four hours of MPEG-2 video or up to 8.5 GB of data, music and/or images on compatible DVD+R DL media for audio/visual projects and backups.

Toast 6 Lite also includes the capability to create one-click copies of CDs, DVDs and disc images, as well as standard audio CDs with CD-TEXT from nearly any QuickTime audio file. In addition to the Toast application, the drive will come bundled with a software suite from Nero for Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

The drive supports 2.4X DVD+R DL, 16X DVD+R, 8X DVD R, 4X DVD±RW, 48X CD- R and 24X CD RW recording speeds. It also offers connectivity with both i.LINKand hi-speed USB digital interfaces.

The DRX-710UL-T model will be available for about $230.

www.sony.com

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VFGadgets Introduces the “Hang N Shoot”

VFGadgets Inc. has announced the launch of the "Hang N Shoot" mini DV camera car mount system developed by FTS (Film & Television Services) in Israel. This system weighs 17.08 lbs, or 7.75 kg. The Hang N Shoot is designed for use with mini DV cameras such as Panasonic's AG-DVX100Aa or the new HDV Handycam Camcorder camcorder from Sony. The camera camera-mount components are made from anodized aluminum and combined with a modified adjustable bicycle rack.

The system enables 3 axis movement, plus 360 degree tilt of the ball head which allows for many different camera angles from the same anchored position. The "Hang N Shoot" system can be used on any vehicle surface (front hood, side doors or back trunk). Set up time for any position takes minutes. The system comes with mono pod, adjustable ball head, sliding bracket, sliding bar, bridge, hanging rack and an (8mm) Allen key.

www.vfgadgets.com

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EnXnet, Inc. Announces Corporate Disk Manufacturing Contract

EnXnet, Inc. has announced it has entered into a contract with Corporate Disk Company, Inc., whereby Corporate Disk will manufacture DVDPlus optical media discs for EnXnet. Corporate Disk will also provide packaging, warehouse and distribution services for EnXnet.

DVDPlus/OneDisc is a two-sided, hybrid optical disc media that combines two distinct storage formats for distribution on a single disc: a DVD (digital versatile disc) on one side and a CD (compact disc) on the other. DVDPlus/OneDisc allows content publishers to integrate their visual and audio products into a single distribution unit. The CD and DVD layers are bonded together to provide a multi-format hybrid disc, which is compatible to CD, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM formats, and is readable and capable of playback in conventional CD and DVD players and personal computers. www.enxnet.com

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CyberLink InstantBurn Unveils Packet-Writing Software

CyberLink InstantBurn lets users operate rewritable DVD burners as if they were using a hard disk or floppy drive, by supporting familiar Windows features like drag-and-drop, copy, cut, paste, and delete, directly onto a DVD. InstantBurn supports UDF (Universal Disk Format) version 1.02, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.01 and is compatible with a range of CD and DVD burners: CD-RW, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW.

InstantBurn features also include optional support for the Mmount. Rainier Format (CD-RW), two user options for erasing disc content, temporary disc lead-out, and disc verification.

www.gocyberlink.com

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Digital Cube Launches I-Station

Digital Cube, Inc. has launched the i-Station (PMP-1000), which is based on Sigma's EM8561 media processor. The PMP-1000 portable media player offers a host of media playback features.

The i-Station integrates a video player, music player, and photo viewer into one device. It enables users to store and access digital media content either from the internet, PC, or other sources. Featuring a TFT-LCD screen, a 20/30 GB hard disk drive, and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery pack, the i-Station offers an estimated 5 1/2 hours of video or 10 hours of music playtime.

Key features include a 3.5" LCD screen with 320x240 pixels and 262,144 colors (18-bit), a touch-screen interface and remote control for handheld or TV operation, and TV output signals (NTSC or PAL) with composite, s-video, and stereo audio. Video formats include MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, XVID, and JPEG, while audio formats include MP3, WMA, AC3, and AAC, and OGG.

www.digital-cube.com.kr

www.sigmadesigns.com

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Slim Devices Introduces CD Ripping Service

Slim Devices, Inc. has introduced a CD ripping service that will convert an entire CD collection into digital music files in a variety of formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, WMA Lossless, or FLAC Lossless.

Highlights of the service include MP3 encoding using LAME V3.96, orders processed in four days or less, and consistent, accurate ID3 tags listing artist, album, song, genre, and Year.

Simple tiered rates are as follows:

-- $129 to convert up to 100 CDs into an MP3, WMA or AAC library.

 -- $179 to convert up to 150 CDs into an MP3, WMA or AAC library.

-- $229 to convert up to 200 CDs into an MP3, WMA or AAC library.

www.slimdevices.com

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Plextor Introduces USB 2.0 Personal Video Recorder

Plextor Corp. has teamed with Elgato to introduce the a USB 2.0 personal video recorder for the Macintosh computers. The Plextor ConvertX for the Mac combines EyeTV software with Plextor's ConvertX PVR video device with built-in TV tuner. The new ConvertX PVR for the uses a real-time MPEG-2 hardware encoder to capture and compress broadcast, cable, or satellite TV to a hard drive. ConvertX PVR also supports RCA composite audio/video input and S-Video input connections for capturing home video from other sources such as camcorders, DVD players, and VCRs.

During live TV viewing, Elgato EyeTV software supports all the time-shifting features normally associated with PVRs, including pausing live TV, skipping forward, and instant replays. The EyeTV electronic programming guide (EPG) allows users to schedule TV recordings with a single mouse click. Users can edit video scenes using EyeTV software, or they can export files into popular Macintosh software like Apple's iMovie, iDVD, DVD Studio Pro, or Roxio Toast Titanium. EyeTV also can convert video into other popular video formats such as QuickTime, AVI, MPEG-4, and 3G.

The ConvertX personal video recorder for Mac has a suggested retail price of $229.99.

www.elgato.com

www.plextor.com

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DVD+R DL Playback Compatibility Report, Part Two

In the June issue of EMedia, we reviewed Sony's DRU-700A, the first market-ready double-layer DVD recorder. The drive performed well in testing, producing 8.5GB DVDs on DVD+R DL media without difficulty. The double-layer DVD-Video discs it burned had only one consistent flaw: compatibility with DVD players. Testing in roughly 70 set-top players, portables, DVD-ROM drives, and DVD burners revealed that discs burned in the Sony played in only about 40% of all players tested. (For complete results, see www.emedialive.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=8568.)

In October 2004, Sony's second-generation dual-layer burner, the DRU-710A, arrived at the door of EMedia. The DRU-710A ships with the same Nero recording bundle, and increases DL maximum burn speed to 4X from the previous drive's 2.4X. I replicated the compatibility test as closely as possible to see if improvements to the drive and media had drawn closer to the 90% most DVD+R DL manufacturers claim. I used the same DVD-Video image as in the June review—a DeCSS'd copy of Kill Bill Vol. 1, weighing in at just over 7GB--and burned it to two brands of DL media: Ridata and Verbatim. Then I took the experiment on the road with hopes of improved compatibility results.

I tested playback in several set-top DVD players, portables, ROM drives, and burners found at local Best Buy and Circuit City stores. Results this time showed patterns similar to the previous testing, in terms of what types of devices played the discs successfully, but with an improved rate of compatibility. Over 30 drives were tested, and the 4X Verbatim disc played successfully on 73% of all players and drives, while the 2.4X Ridata media had a 36% success rate (see table for complete results).

Discs burned in the 700A failed to play in any portable DVD players. I found the same trend in this test, but managed to locate one Panasonic portable that played both discs, and a Samsung that played the Verbatim but not the Ridata. The Samsung stalled on the Ridata while playing some of the extra features.

One other key point for analysis is the performance of DVD recorders in reading dual-layer discs. Because recorders do a full disc ID check before playback, they're more likely than set-top players or ROM drives simply to eject the disc. In the June review, this was evident in the 33% playback compatibility rate with DVD±R/RW drives. This time, however, six out of six burners tested played both the Ridata and Verbatim discs.

One way to circumvent some of the compatibility issues with DVD+R DL discs, many have suggested, is to change the discs' Book Type from DVD+R9 to the more familiar ROM. LiteOn, which manufactures the core components of the Sony 700 and 710, offers a Book Type utility that allows you to change the Book Type before recording, but by all appearances, the Sony drive disables that feature. When you open up Nero to burn the disc after running the LiteOn utility, the disc still appears as DVD+R9.

In the end, the Sony second-generation burner showed significant improvement over the first generation in terms of the playback compatibility of DVD+R DL discs burned in the drive. (Whether this improved success rate derives from the media, the drives, the software, or the latest crop of playback devices is unclear, although it's likely a combination of the first three.) The scope of this test was admittedly less broad than in the first review, and tested only what was available in stores. However, the test was thorough enough to give consumers a basic idea of the likelihood that a burned dual-layer disc will play in their homes, and commercial DVD producers an idea of how confident they can be that the DL discs they produce and distribute will play when they reach their end users. 

--Curt Challberg

Company

Model

Type

Verbatim Result

Ridata Result

Sony

DVP-NC665P

ST

YES

NO

Magnavox

MDV456/17

ST

YES

YES

Toshiba

SD 3966

ST

NO

NO

Sony

DVD-N5575P

ST

YES

NO

JVC

XV-NP105L

ST

YES

NO

Sony

DVP-N5775

ST

YES

YES

Samsung

DVD-HD841

ST

YES

NO

Pioneer

DV578A-S

ST

YES

NO

LG

LST-3510

ST

YES

NO

Zenith

XBV443

ST

YES

NO

Toshiba

SD-V592

ST

YES

NO

Samsung

DVD-4800

ST

NO

NO

Toshiba

SD-1800

ST

YES

NO

Toshiba

SD-V392

ST

NO

NO

Sony

SLV-D35OP

ST

YES

NO

Samsung

DVD-V4600

ST

NO

NO

Mitsubishi

DD-6640

ST

YES

NO

Zenith

DVB412

ST

YES

YES

Initial

IDM1731

PP

NO

NO

Insignia

I-PD1020

PP

NO

NO

Liquid Video

LIDM830

PP

NO

NO

Panasonic

DVDLS50

PP

YES

YES

Samsung

DVD-L300

PP

YES

NO

Compaq

SR1210NX

ROM

YES

YES

HP

A700N

ROM

NO

NO

Sony

VGC-RA826G

ROM

YES

YES

Toshiba

M35X5149

ROM

NO

NO

Compaq

SR1230NX

RW

YES

YES

Compaq

R3320US

RW

YES

YES

HP

ZV5330US

RW

YES

YES

HP

A720N

RW

YES

YES

HP

M1160

RW

YES

YES

Sony

VGC-RA826G

RW

YES

YES

Key: ST=set-top DVD player; PP=portable DVD player; ROM=DVD-ROM drive; RW=DVD recorder

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