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Pinnacle Systems: Edition DV500

Athlon XP3000+ CPU

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TwinMOS Memory

 

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Pinnacle Systems - Edition DV500 17th March 2003

We are lucky enough to have in our possession a Pinnacle Edition DV500 for review.  This card is aimed at anyone that is serious about Video Editing and Manipulation with a whole host of professional features which will save you time and in the long run even money.  

Here are the official Specs:

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS :

- Single Pentium® III or AMD Athlon® processor 700 MHz or above
- One free PCI bus-mastering slot
- 256 MB RAM
- 500 MB hard disk capacity
- Dedicated hard drive (AV rated, minimum data transfer rate of 4Mb/s)
- Graphics card and SVGA monitor capable of 1024x768 @ 32-bit resolution
- Microsoft Windows® 2000, or Windows®XP

 
Input Formats:

- Import .AVI, QuickTime, .WAV
- Import standard image formats such as .TIF, .TGA, .BMP
- Capture from 1394/DV or analogue camcorders and VCRs
- Audio format: 16-bit PCM stereo, 32, 44, or 48 KHz

Output Formats:

- Record to DV or analogue camcorders and VCRs
- Export to DVD (MPEG-2 MP@ML, video elementary stream)
- Export to SVCD (MPEG-2 MP@ML program stream with MPEG-1 layer 2 audio file)
- Export to Windows Media, Quicktime, .AVI

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

- Dual Pentium® III or 4, or AMD Athlon® MP processor or above
- One free PCI bus-mastering slot
- 512 MB RAM
- 4 GB hard disk capacity
- Dedicated hard drive (AV rated, minimum data transfer rate of 4Mb/s)
- Graphics card and SVGA monitor capable of 1024x768 @ 32-bit resolution
- Microsoft Windows® XP Home or Professional OS

Technical Data:

Hardware
- 32 bit PCI bus mastering expansion card Data Rate
- Two streams of DV data (25 Mbits per second per stream)

Frame Rate
- 25/30 frames, 50/60 fields per second (PAL/NTSC)

Digitization and Playback
- In real-time. 720x576 (PAL/SECAM) or 720x480 (NTSC) in 4:2:0 YUV (PAL) or 4:1:1 YUV (NTSC), true colour
- Compression: DV

Video Inputs
- 1x composite video (CVBS), RCA (cinch) jack, high quality comb filter
- 1x S-Video (Y/C) mini DIN
- 1x IEEE 1394 (Firewire®/iLink) six pin connector, internal

Video Outputs
- 1x composite video (CVBS), RCA (cinch) jack
- 1x S-Video (Y/C) mini DIN
- 1x IEEE 1394 (Firewire/iLink) six pin connector, internal

Video Standard
- PAL, SECAM, NTSC (SECAM input only, US Version NTSC only), Widescreen 16:9

Video Systems
- DV, DV Cam, DVC Pro, Digital 8, S-VHS, Hi-8, VHS, Video8

Video Overlay
- Video overlay chip for real-time monitoring on computer screen

Audio Inputs/Outputs
- Input: Stereo, 2xRCA (cinch) jack
- Output: Stereo, 2xRCA (cinch) jack

Audio Input Level
- 0dB, adjustable, selectable Audio Recording and Playback
- In real-time directly to/from hard disc in full CD/DAT stereo audio quality

The best way to evaluate this type of product is to first take a look at the hardware then the software and finally judge whether the combination of the two are right for you.  Here we go:

Hardware:

You get two main pieces of hardware included in the Edition DV500, the PCI Card and the Breakout box.

As we can see the PCI card has an incorporated LSI DVexpress MX chip, this is the DVD authoring logic system processor which aids in the creation of DVD files.  As well as the Logic chip you can see that the card has many other chips and transistors, each with a specific purpose, designed to make the end users life less stressful.  It does this by allowing Background Rendering which simulates Real Time (no more waiting for hours to see if you need to make any corrections) as well as Analogue Video Capture through the Breakout box.

Above we see that the card has several ports, 2 DV (1394) connectors, an Audio Out jack and a connector marked Blue Box.  This is actually for the Breakout Box which is referred to as the Blue Box in media terms.

The Breakout box has a set of inputs and a set of outputs each consisting of S-Video and Composite Video as well as Stereo Audio.  It appears those nice people at Pinnacle Systems have thought of everything as there is also another DV connector, so that you don't have to keep plugging your camcorder into the back of the PC.

Software:

The Pinnacle Systems Edition DV500 ships with 3 clearly unique software titles and effectively a fourth in the form of its Windows style control panel which emulates the style of the popular Microsoft Windows Operating System.  This emulation allows users to tweak their settings in a familiar environment or to create an environment in which they feel most comfortable in whilst still being able to get the work done.

  

The other software packages which provide you with a variety of output options are:

Pinnacle Impression DVD SE: which offers the ability to create a Slide Show with Audio, insert web and document links in movies and menus, an included software DVD Player that is freely distributable on your disc, the option to write to DLT, CD or DVD and of course Real-Time simulation.

Pinnacle Title Deco RT: you guessed it, the RT stands for Real-Time, which is very important in the world of video editing and manipulation.  As well as Real-Time editing the Title Deco software allows Broadcast-quality character generation, the ability to easily create superb titles directly over video with new Compose In Context feature, the use of stunning Professional effects including glows, neon, metallic looks, textures, backgrounds, shapes, shadows and edges, whilst maintaining ease of use with Drag and drop placement, rotation, kerning, leading and sizing.

Pinnacle Hollywood FX Technology: fancy yourself as a bit of a pro do you?  Why not turn your next school play into a blockbuster movie with the features of the Hollywood FX?  It offers professional features which include blazing fast 3D effects, Real-Time Preview as well as Real-Time gradient wipes, a complete collection of more than 400 unique transitions and customizable designs for great looking video transitions.

Conclusion:

When it comes to Video Editing nobody does it better than Pinnacle Systems.  They have managed to put together a combination of an excellent feature packed card and award winning professional software and still keep it reasonably priced.  For £385 (US$577) you will be hard pressed to find a solution this comprehensive anywhere, with continued support and software updates from Pinnacle Systems it is clear that once purchased this card will last a long time.

The card does everything it claims to with the minimum of effort and allows everybody from novice to professional the opportunity to improve the end result of their work.  The main advantage of the Edition DV500 is the Real-Time rendering, many manufacturers are now realizing the importance of being able to deliver this feature at an affordable price without having to cut back on the quality of their product. 

The only thing I noticed that may be a problem to some users who are unfamiliar with Video Editing is the complexity of the Analogue Capture Feature which resembles that used in popular software title Adobe Premiere, I would have thought that a more simpler interface would have been preferred in order to satisfy the new user.  However, this point is mute as if you are learning to use Video Editing professionally it is perhaps better to learn on a platform that will remain the same throughout the high end software market. 

Pinnacle Systems have a new Edition5 being released next month which we hope to review as well as the Matrox RTX series when review units become available.  This will allow us to offer you a comparison between the available editing solutions, as it stands the Edition DV500 is well on its way to becoming The Hardware Review Editors Choice Award - Video Editing winner.  Keep up the good work Pinnacle.

We would like to thank Pinnacle Systems for sending us the review sample.

 

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