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July 26, 2005

Table of Contents

Review: Plextor PX-740A--EDITOR'S CHOICE
Duplicator Manufacturer Brings Back Disc Spanning Capability
Targus Announces New Portable Peripherals
EDIROL Previews Professional USB 2.0 Multi-Channel Support for Tiger
Cirrus Logic Releases Mixed-Signal Codec IC
Proavio Announces New Line of High Performance eSATA Video Storage
Lectrosonics Reduces Price on DM812 Digital Audio Processor With LecNet2 Software
FOCUS Enhancements Introduces New Line of Advanced Media Servers

Review: Plextor PX-740A--EDITOR'S CHOICE

The PX-740A is the latest DVD/CD recorder from Plextor to target budget-conscious buyers still seeking state-of-the-art performance.

To economize, the PX-740A sacrifices several features offered by Plextor's flagship PX-716 (see Bennett review March 2005) including the ability to perform rudimentary disc-quality checks and alter low-level recording parameters and drive behavior. Also absent is LightScribe laser disc labeling. From what I gather, LightScribe isn't exactly taking the aftermarket by storm, so its importance is relative.

One of the PX-740A's biggest attractions is its ability to write DVD+R DL discs at 8X speed. In practical terms, this translates to an impressive 14:12 to complete a full disc although DVD-R DL drags to the finish line at 4X (27:31). Rewritable DVD performance is also cranked up to the latest and greatest specifications. High-speed RW discs are scarce but I was fortunate to have some Ritek samples on hand with 8X DVD+RWs clocked at 7:54 and with 6X DVD-RWs at 10:19. DVD±Rs burn at the now obligatory 16X taking 5:53 per disc, CD-Rs at 48X (3:00) and CD-RWs at 32X (4:01).

Uncommon for a new recorder, out-of-the-gate support for 16X-rated DVD±R discs proved excellent. Out of the discs I tried from mainline manufacturers, six out of eight DVD-Rs and six out of six DVD+Rs wrote at full speed. Since 16X-rated discs are not always easy to find, I was disappointed that the PX-740A wouldn't write at least a few of the nine 8X-rated DVD-R and eleven DVD+R types I also tested at faster speeds (by comparison, the PX-716A writes one of these DVD-Rs at 16X, one DVD+R at 16X and three others at 12X). DVD+R DL results also came up a little short with Verbatim discs writing at 8X but two other makers confined to 2.4X (the PX-716A handles Verbatim at 6X and the other two at 4X).

I was also able to successfully write a handful of BeALL 4.85GB EX extended-capacity DVD-R discs. So, those seeking to record a few additional minutes of video, or a couple more megabytes of data should be pleased with the PX-740A. But note, however, that DVD+R "overburning" is not offered.

In addition to faster writing, read speed is up a couple of notches compared to the PX-716A. Most noticeable are DVD±R and prerecorded DVDs taken at full 16X (4:57) and DVD±RW along with DVD±R DL at 12X (6:23 and 11:57 respectively). Prerecorded CD-ROM, CD audio and CD-R clock in at 48X (2:15) and CD-RW at 40X (2:39). Be aware, however, that there is no DVD-RAM support and reading copy protected (CSS) DVD-Video discs is limited to a leisurely 4X.

In keeping with its bare-bones style, the package simply includes Nero 6 OEM Suite (Nero Express, InCD, Nero Vision Express, etc.) and leaves other recording and authoring amenities behind. If you already own a copy of PlexTools Professional software (bundled with another Plextor recorder) the PX-740A can be used but most functions are unavailable.

With impressive writing and reading performance as well as its more competitive price tag the Plextor PX-740A is one of the best recorder choices going.

Minimum system requirements: 1.4GHz Pentium 4 running Windows 98SE/ME/XP/2000; 256MB RAM; 800MB to 1GB free hard drive space for CD, 6GB to 10GB for DVD authoring; 5.25" half-height empty drive bay.

www.plextor.com

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Duplicator Manufacturer Brings Back Disc Spanning Capability

Microboards Technology has announced that the second generation of its CopyWriter Live recorder/duplicator will ship this month. CopyWriter Live was designed to give churches and other organizations the ability to record events easily.

The new CopyWriter Live includes level monitoring and a headphone jack, as well as a more robust design and higher quality disc recorders, according to Microboards. CopyWriter Live can also record live audio for longer than the typical 70-80 minutes by automatically spanning from disc to disc.

Microboards will launch the new product at the same price, $799.

www.microboards.com

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Targus Announces New Portable Peripherals

Targus has introduced new peripherals for notebook computers, including the 40GB Ultra Slim Pocket Hard Drive and the Super Mini USB 2 4-Port Hub. Targus' new portable devices are designed to save desk space and fit into notebook carrying cases for business commuters and students.

The products also include power-saving features such as automatic shut-off and rechargeable batteries and are designed to work as well and as comfortably as their full-sized, non-portable counterparts, according to Targus.

Targus's 40GB Ultra Slim Pocket Hard Drive is small enough for notebook users to carry with them but large enough to completely backup the entire content of most notebook computers. When used with the provided software, a user can automate backups, secure data, and add storage to older computers with smaller hard drives. At 3.2 ounces, it is small and light enough to fit in a shirt pocket. It features a 40GB 1.8 hard drive and integrated USB connector; no AC adapter is required. The model number is ADH01US, and the suggested retail price is $249.99.

The Super Mini USB 2 4-Port Hub is only slightly larger than a compact flash card. With a USB 2.0 chipset and four ports, it supports high-speed transfer up to 480 MB/sec and is one of the smallest travel hubs in the Targus product line. It features a lightweight design with a Y-cable that provides extra power without the weight of an AC adapter. Users can connect four USB devices such as mice, keyboards, digital cameras, and memory devices to their notebooks simultaneously. The hub is a plug-and-play device—no drivers required. The model number is ACH63US, and the suggested retail price: $29.99.

www.targus.com

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EDIROL Previews Professional USB 2.0 Multi-Channel Support for Tiger

EDIROL has previewed professional Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) multi-channel audio support for Apple Mac OS X Tiger using its UA-1000 and UA-101 USB 2.0 Audio Interfaces. This Mac OS X support is made possible due to advances made in Tiger, the latest version of Mac OS X and EDIROL's continued USB 2.0 audio development.

EDIROL introduced USB 2.0 audio interfaces with the UA-1000 in March 2003 and now supports multi-channel Hi-Speed USB audio on both Windows XP and Apple Mac OS X Tiger. EDIROL has supported and implemented class-compliant FireWire Core Audio drivers for Mac OS X Panther since introducing the FA-101 in January 2004.

A preview beta version of the Tiger driver is currently available for download at http://www.edirol.com/support/drivers.html and the official driver release is expected in the fall of 2005. A preview beta version of the Tiger driver for the UA-101 is currently available for download at www.edirol.net/products/en/UA-101/index.html. The official driver release, including support for the UA-1000, is expected in the fall of 2005.

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Cirrus Logic Releases Mixed-Signal Codec IC

Cirrus Logic has introduced a new highly integrated, low-power stereo codec for portable audio applications. The CS42L51 is the first in a new line of products focused on analog and mixed signal ICs for power-sensitive, battery-operated applications such as HDD and flash-based music players, personal media players, mini-disc players/recorders, PDAs, smart phones, digital camcorders, and digital voice recorders.

The CS42L51 delivers analog audio performance while providing system designers with a solution that improves battery life, reduces end product form factors, and simplifies the recording and playback of digital audio, according to Cirrus Logic. The CS42L51 can operate from a single 1.8V power supply for low power consumption.

By generating its own on-chip negative power supply voltage, the CS42L51 provides ground-centered outputs, which eliminate costly, space-consuming DC-blocking capacitors. The elimination of these capacitors not only reduces the implementation cost but also simplifies product design and saves space on circuit boards, according to Cirrus Logic.

In addition to a multi-bit Delta Sigma based ADC and DAC, the CS42L51 integrates a 3:1 stereo input multiplexer; programmable gain amplifier; a stereo microphone preamplifier; and low-noise bias supply, automatic level control, and a digital signal processing engine. Its analog stereo outputs can be configured as HP or line out, with digital volume and mute output control.

The CS42L51 is currently sampling to customers, with volume production expected in late summer 2005. The codec is available in a 32-lead QFN package and is priced at $3.95 in quantities of 1,000.

www.cirrus.com/en

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Proavio Announces New Line of High Performance eSATA Video Storage

Proavio has announced the release of its editBOXT eSATA video disk array solutions. Designed for high-resolution HDV and uncompressed video editing and production, the editBOXT features a complete storage solution in a box.

With five removable SATA II disks and an eSATA interface, the editBOXT can multi-stream 10-bit video, while offering capacity options that make editBOXT a clear choice for users interested in maximizing capacity and cost. EditBOXT features a next generation eSATA PCI-X host adapter for Macintosh or Windows operating systems. A high-performance architecture supplies sustained throughputs of over 160MB/sec.

With pricing starting at $1799, editBOXT features a RAID 0 architecture and five-disk design allows users to create a four-disk striped array for video and designate the last drive for audio capture/playback, or utilize the disk as a render drive. PROAVIO has tested and qualified editBOXT for use the best names in video hardware such as AJA Kona2, BlackMagic BlueFish444, Matrox and Aurora Video Systems.

www.proavio.com

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Lectrosonics Reduces Price on DM812 Digital Audio Processor With LecNet2 Software

Lectrosonics has announced a price reduction on the DM812 Digital Audio Processor System with LecNet2 control software. The DM812 provides configurable processing, mixing, and routing capabilities for sound reinforcement and conferencing applications requiring multiple microphones and loudspeakers. The DM812 is now selling at an MSRP of $2,585.

The DM812 offers eight mic/line inputs and 12 line outputs. The unit features a full DSP-based crosspoint matrix, where any input can be routed to any or all outputs. Subsequent to each input's A/D conversion, six DSP filters, an automatic digital feedback eliminator, a compressor, and a digital delay, are available for signal processing. Once each signal reaches the matrix, gain is adjustable from -69dB to +20dB in 1dB steps per crosspoint. All outputs provide a digital delay, nine DSP filters, and a compressor/limiter.

Each DM Series mixer is AMX and CRESTRON compatible, provides 128 macros for storing up to 64 commands per macro, and includes digital I/O ports for daisy-chaining and connection to additional LecNet2 devices, according to Lectrosonics.

LecNet2, the DM Series' user-friendly control software, operates on Windows 2000 or XP PC platforms and offers full command of the system via USB or RS-232 compatible interfaces. Once LecNet2 is used for system setup, the configuration is saved in a file and within the DM unit's memory for operation. Upon configuration, no host computer is needed. The units run independently.

www.lectrosonics.com

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FOCUS Enhancements Introduces New Line of Advanced Media Servers

FOCUS Enhancements has announced the availability of ProxSys Media Servers, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution specifically designed for video, multimedia, and broadcast applications.

ProxSys delivers a flexible way to store, manage, and recall digital media. Complete ProxSys suites, including digital acquisition, indexing, conversion, storage, and play-out, are available today for under $50,000.

ProxSys enables Digital Asset Management solutions for customers and markets that have the need to organize media. ProxSys is designed for medium and large scale deployments in video-driven applications, including broadcast archive and play-out, TV monitoring, sports analysis, education and training, multi-channel recording and monitoring, and video archiving. The system replaces the need to manage volumes of dispersed videotapes, CD-ROMs, audio CDs, and digital images within the organization. ProxSys manages terabytes of low- and high-resolution video, audio, images, documents, and data from a simple Web browser interface allowing quick preview and access to clips over the Internet, according to ProxSys.

Showcased at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference in April 2005, ProxSys has been beta-tested globally by television networks, universities, multimedia companies, and enterprise businesses including A+M Media, Daimler Chrysler TV, Dublien Central University, Game TV, Hanoi Music Conservatory, IQ Digital, and SAV Capital Vision.

ProxSys categorizes stored media content based on customizable metadata fields that correspond to media timecode data. Different parts of a single media file can be tagged with unique metadata information. When a user is ready to retrieve a particular media file, only the relevant portion of the clip is presented to the recipient. Before downloading the full resolution clip, the user can additionally edit the portion of the clip(s) required, saving both download time and streamlining workflow.

Users can also export content directly to an NLE system for editing purposes and alternatively, export selected media to an optical media duplicator.

www.focusinfo.com

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