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September 24, 2007

Table of Contents

Studio Time: Kris Simmons' Fire Eye Productions
Sony Elevates Professional Video Production With First Solid-State Compact Camcorder
Sony Announces New Memory Card For Professional Camcorders
16x9 Inc. Introduces Bebob Box-VM Carrier for V-Mount Power Supply
M-Audio Announces Session Music Producer
The Next Generation of Aleratec LightScribe Publishing Tower is Now Available
Pioneer Blu-ray Disc Drive with Multi-Format Reading and Writing Now Available to Professional Users
Enhance Technology Launches UltraStor RS16 SAS RAID Storage

Studio Time: Kris Simmons' Fire Eye Productions

Kris Simmons has no formal training in business, but he has plenty to say on the subject (and an impressive track record to back it up). A videographer by trade, Simmons began thinking of himself as an entrepreneur (and acting accordingly) after reading Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad—a gift from his wife, Christy, in 2004. "We’d heard that it was a must-read for anyone who wishes to find success in business," he says of the best-selling book that has generated both rave reviews and harsh criticism since its 2000 publication. "It helped me connect the dots between my professional aspirations and what was actually required to achieve them."

His commitment to learning and mastering the principles of business, acquired through self-teaching and mentor relationships, won him Young Entrepreneur of the Year honors from the Tennessee District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2004; awards for excellence in video production from the Chattanooga Advertising Federation and the three international videography awards would follow. Simmons’ business acumen also has helped make Fire Eye Productions, his Chattanooga, Tennessee-based studio, profitable—he says it now ranks among the top three corporate video production companies in the city, with 100-plus clients at the local, regional, and national level—and spawned MindYourVideoBusiness.com, a separate venture through which he helps fellow videographers nurture their own studios to prosperity.

To hear Simmons tell it, "The key to improving a video business is to dedicate time and energy to being a better entrepreneur. If you’re struggling to survive, I bet it’s because you lack a basic knowledge of how to properly manage, grow, and sustain a successful business. Let’s face it: There are thousands of videographers out there who produce great work but can’t figure out how to generate enough money to earn a living.

"The only way to radically improve your business," he continues, "is to become a student of business. Read books, attend seminars, search for and develop mentor relationships with successful business owners. Anything you can do to enhance your business knowledge will have a huge impact" on your overall success.

Easier said than done? Simmons says it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how he did it.


figure 1Something from Nothing
Simmons’ love affair with the video camera began innocently enough. "I had always been fascinated by my dad’s full-size VHS camera," he says, but one night in particular changed the way he thought about the technology. He was in eighth grade, attending a high school play on the Okinawa, Japan, military base at which his family was stationed, when he spotted several students shooting the event. "To see kids my age doing this sort of thing got me excited about what would be possible when I started high school," he explains. "As it turned out, my school had a state-of-the-art video production curriculum with the best equipment money could buy." He enrolled in three video-production classes each semester, assembling a résumé of credits that included directing his school’s daily morning newscasts and producing, directing, shooting, and editing live multi-camera events (such as sporting events and graduations) and PSAs. "I produced, directed, shot, and edited close to 100 video projects before I graduated," he says. "Most were part of the curriculum, but several were paid gigs. I started making money in this field at age 14."

Later, as a student at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Simmons took courses in video production and worked as a freelancer on a variety of projects throughout the Southeast. He interned for local television stations and video production companies; participated in a work-study program; shot and edited The Ken Sparks Show, the Carson-Newman football coach’s broadcast airing on the local cable television network; and won an award for a film he produced as part of his senior thesis.

Collectively, these experiences convinced Simmons that videography "would not only allow me to create cool projects but also provide wonderful financial opportunities," he says. "I really loved the fact that I could create something from nothing. A few scribbles on a napkin could result in a short film or television commercial. A group project with several dedicated students could result in a full-blown newscast."

Following his graduation in May 2000, Simmons began working full-time at a studio just outside Chattanooga. After six months of "being overworked and grossly underpaid," Simmons’ employer promised him a $1 per hour raise. Unfortunately, the next paycheck "only reflected a $0.50 raise," he says, "so I resigned that afternoon." For the next several hours, Simmons sat in his car calling everyone with whom he’d worked as a freelancer, and by the time he left the parking lot, he had "secured enough freelance work to cover a year’s worth of salary" at the job he’d just left behind. "It was pretty apparent to me at that time that the only option I had to move forward with my career was to build my own video production company," he says of that day. "I simply couldn’t make the money I needed to achieve my long-term goals unless I was the one calling the shots."

Simmons founded Fire Eye Productions that November. Initially, he freelanced for other production companies throughout the Southeast and shot and edited video for wedding videographers around the country and an Atlanta-based local access television show. But by 2002, Simmons’ focus had shifted: he wanted to build his own corporate clientele. From the freelance gigs, he says, he’d learned "that corporate video paid better" than most of the types of work he’d been doing up to that point, so he purposefully changed his strategy "to become less of a freelancer and more of a full-blown turnkey video production company serving local medium and large businesses and organizations."


figure 1Luckily, Simmons already had a sizeable portfolio of work and a strong network of professional relationships from which to draw as he set out to rebuild his business. In the ensuing years, he’s wooed corporate clients (BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce among them) by promoting the fact that Fire Eye has produced projects of all types for organizations of all sizes, both large and small, both established and nascent. "This gives us instant credibility with prospects because it eliminates any question as to whether or not we’re capable of successfully managing their projects," says Simmons. "We’ve done television commercials and programs; safety, training, and corporate communications videos; corporate and special event videos; websites and webcasts—just about every kind of video there is."

As CEO and executive producer, Simmons now heads a team that includes his wife, who serves as business development manager; Wallace Braud, senior producer/director and director of photography; and Jason White, senior editor and motion graphics designer. They average roughly 2-5 shoots per week and price their work, on average, at $150 per hour.

Mind Over Matter
Simmons says his evolution "from video producer into a full-blown CEO" began in 2004, with Kiyosaki’s book as the catalyst, but it wasn’t until late 2006 that he decided to share all he’d learned via a platform of his own making. "Last December, I was reintroduced to several industry forums that I hadn’t visited since I first started my business," he recalls. While seeking advice on "how to further grow my business, I found that a large percentage of videographers were struggling to successfully grow and sustain theirs. In fact, many of them were having a hard time just surviving!

"Eventually," he continues, "I realized the reason so many videographers were having trouble was because they didn’t understand how to run a business." With that realization, Simmons decided to launch a subscription website that would "offer solid advice based on my experiences." For $10 a month, subscribers to MindYourVideoBusiness.com get unlimited access to a minimum of 10 new articles each month on topics such as business strategy, cash flow management, financing growth, marketing, sales, account management, project management, accounting, and employees and freelancers. (Select articles are available to site visitors at no charge.) Simmons also offers "video business coaching" services (at a rate of $100 per hour) to videographers who need help with any and all business-related topics.

"I think the main challenge videographers face when trying to build their businesses is their lack of basic entrepreneurial skills," he says. "It doesn’t matter if your focus is on weddings or corporate video: you still have to master basic business skills before you can grow. I know I would have experienced success much sooner if I had focused my attention on this earlier in my career."

Simmons clearly spends a lot of time thinking about improvement and advancement—for himself and for others. Ask him about his long-term goals, however, and he’ll say only this: "I know that I want to do whatever it takes to steadily grow my business each year and learn how to effectively manage each level of growth." That, he adds, and to "never go backwards."

Marla Misek is an editor and freelance writer based in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Sony Elevates Professional Video Production With First Solid-State Compact Camcorder

Sony today conducted its first full-scale demonstration of a new solid-state compact camcorder for professional video production. The new PMW-EX1 model expands Sony's XDCAM® line-up of high-definition tapeless production and acquisition systems, which also includes optical disc-based camcorders and decks. The camcorder's distinction is that it records and stores content to ExpressCard high-speed media, offering greater workflow flexibility with selectable bit rates in addition to an extensive list of editing and effects capabilities.

"The XDCAM EX series with its full HD picture quality and system flexibility is a powerful tool for boosting quality and efficiency in an array of HD production applications," said Bob Ott, vice president of optical and network systems for Sony Electronics. "It's also compatible with a broad range of non-linear editing systems.

"Combined with the ability to capture and transfer footage using ExpressCard technology, the new standard of PC card interface, I believe this new camera will prove to be a very reliable and flexible compact camcorder for HD video production."

The camera uses Sony's newly developed SxS PRO solid-state memory as its recording medium. The SxS memory card, which currently delivers up to 800 Mbps of high-speed data transfer, enables non-linear capabilities like instant random access and file-based operation. Equipped with two SxS memory card slots, the camcorder can record up to 100 minutes of high-quality HD footage at 35Mbps, or 140 minutes at 25Mbps using two 16-GB SxS memory cards.

The imaging devices used in the camcorder are three newly designed 1/2-inch type Exmor CMOS sensors, each with an effective pixel count of 1920 x 1080. This 1/2-inch type image sensor, allows the camcorder to provide an extremely high sensitivity of F10, a signal-to-noise ratio of 54 dB, and horizontal resolution of 1000 television lines.

"This large 1/2-inch type image sensor can capture images with a shallower depth of field than other hand held camcorders' smaller-size image sensors, allowing for more creative freedom of expression," Ott said, adding that the low-light capabilities of this new sensor will be of particular interest to those professionals who need to capture footage in challenging lighting applications.

The camcorder is switchable between 1080p, 1080i and 720p, with a multiple frame recording capabilities of 59.94i, 50i, 29.97P, 25P and native 23.98P. It offers a choice of bit rates -- either 35 Mb/s (high-quality mode) or 25 Mb/s (standard-play mode) depending on the desired picture quality and recording time. The HQ mode supports both 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720 resolutions. The SP mode supports 1440 x 1080 resolution at 25 Mb/s, which provides compatibility with HDV 1080i products. As a result, footage recorded in the SP mode can be seamlessly integrated into HDV-compatible editing systems by connecting the camcorder through an i.LINK® (IEEE-1394) digital interface.

The PMW-EX1 camcorder is equipped with a high-quality, high-definition Fujinon 14x zoom lens. According to Ott, this lens was specifically designed to work with this camcorder and to deliver optimum picture performance and unprecedented functionality. The lens offers a wide angle of view of 5.8 mm (equivalent to 31.4 mm on a 35 mm lens), and many convenient features for diverse shooting situations.

The new camcorder offers a "Slow and Quick Motion" capability -- also commonly known as "overcranking" and "under-cranking" in the traditional film world -- for creating unique "looks" or special effects of slow and fast motion. Other creative capabilities include Slow Shutter, Interval Recording, a Picture Profile feature, and a histogram indicator, as well a 3.5-inch color LCD screen (viewable area, measured diagonally).

To increase interoperability, a range of non-linear editing manufacturers are developing compatible interfaces, including Adobe Systems Incorporated, Adobe Premiere Pro with MainConcept MPEG Pro, Apple Inc. Final Cut Pro Studio, Dayang Technology Development Inc. D3 Edit 3000 Series, Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. Matrox Axio and Matrox RT.X2, MOG Solutions Toboggan MediaTransfer, Newauto Silicon Valley Video Technology CO.,LTD.'s Himaraya 1000/A1200/A1500 series, Sobey Digital Technology Co., Ltd. E7 and E2000, Sony Creative Software Vegas® Pro 8, and Thomson Grass Valley EDIUS? Pro and Grass Valley EDIUS Broadcast.

The PMW-EX1 camcorder is expected to be available in November at a suggested price of less than $8,000.

www.sony.com/xdcam

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Sony Announces New Memory Card For Professional Camcorders

Sony is announcing the new SxS PROTM memory card designed for professional videographers. The new card, available in 8 GB (model SBP-8) and 16 GB (model SBP-16) capacities, is designed to offer extremely fast transfer speeds and is compliant with the ExpressCard™ industry standard. Sony will adopt the high-speed SxS PRO card in its XDCAM EX™ series professional camcorders, which are planned to be launched this fall.

The SxS PRO card is based on the "SxS memory card specification," which enables high-speed data transfer. The SxS PRO card offers a more efficient workflow by reducing transfer times of large data files such as high-definition video with speeds of 800 Mbps. The card's compact size is ideally suited to the lighter and smaller camcorders needed for mobile videography, and gives users more opportunities to shoot in a wider range of conditions.

The SxS PRO card complies with the ExpressCard™ industry standard, which has been rapidly adopted by PC manufacturers to replace the PC Card™ form factor. The SxS PRO card is the first PCI Express™ solid-state storage media, and the maximum data transfer speed of PCI Express™ is about twice as fast as that of the current PC Card™ interface.

By connecting directly to computer systems and hardware through this high-speed PCI-ExpressTM bus and with the optimized technology protocol for controlling communication between hardware and the card, the SxS PRO card realizes its high-speed data transfer at 800 Mbps.

The SxSPRO card adopts ExpressCard/34 modules (width: 34mm, height: 5mm, length: 75mm), half the size of PC Cards™. This enables the design of professional camcorders that are smaller and lighter, while still offering high storage capacities. Despite its compact size, the 16 GB SxS PROcard is capable of recording approximately one hour when used with Sony's new XDCAM EX camcorder.

The new cards will be available in November, priced at about $500 for the 8 GB3 SBP-8 model and about $900 for the 16 GB3 SBP-16 model.

www.sony.com/xdcam

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16x9 Inc. Introduces Bebob Box-VM Carrier for V-Mount Power Supply

16x9 Inc. introduces Bebob Box-VM, the solution for adding a V-Mount power supply to operate on-board camera accessories. Similar in design to the Box-FS and Box-HVR carriers, this ingenious system attaches to the baseplate of the Panasonic HVX-200 and other popular compact HDV cameras, and is designed to hold an IDX V-Mount battery such as the Endura 7 or Endura 7S.

The 14.4V battery power can be supplied directly or converted to 8.4V and is distributed to the system's 1-D-Tap and 3 hirose 4-pin outputs. Plus, the Box-VM features an additional dimmable D-Tap for powering a camera light. Box-VM also serves as a voltage/power adapter between the battery, and the camera and its accessories. The 3 hirose 4-pin connectors deliver 8.4V/12V for the camera's power supply and/or the wireless microphone receiver.

www.16x9inc.com

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M-Audio Announces Session Music Producer

M-Audio, a leading provider of computer-based music-creation products for consumers, today introduced Session Music Producer vocal recording system for the PC. The package features Session recording software and Producer(TM), a USB microphone with a built-in headphone output for real-time monitoring and playback. The Session Music Producer system expands the company's family of Session make-music-now products for the PC, providing the perfect solution for anyone who wants to create their own vocal productions.

What Makes the Session Music Producer System Different?
The included Producer USB microphone provides a more streamlined and enjoyable user experience than other USB microphones on the market, because most USB microphones require the user to plug headphones into their computer's audio out jack instead of the microphone itself. This setup results in latency--a processing delay between when a sound goes into a computer and when it comes out of speakers or headphones. Since the Producer USB microphone provides a shorter path between the sound input and output, it delivers near-zero latency so users can monitor their performances in real time, which allows them to improve the quality of their delivery.

In addition, Session Music Producer provides a complete, integrated hardware/software solution. The Producer USB microphone is designed to work seamlessly with the included Session recording software. Users can simply install the Session software, connect the microphone to the computer via USB and start recording right away--no complex setups or configuration hassles. The combination of Session software and the Producer USB microphone is the perfect way to begin exploring computer-based audio production, from music making to voiceovers, podcasting and other multimedia projects.

"Making music should be a fun process. Unfortunately, many newcomers to the world of digital recording are put off because the technology interferes with the creative process," said Tony McCall, vice president of M-Audio's consumer group. "The Session Music Producer system eliminates much of the complexity in home computer recording, enabling the user to tap into their inspiration and freely express their creativity."

Family of Music-creation Products
The Session Music Producer system expands M-Audio's diverse family of "make-music-now" products. The company's ever-growing portfolio of consumer music-creation solutions includes keyboards, microphones, podcasting and DJ gear, audio interfaces, speakers, software and accessories. Information on these products and more can be found here.

Pricing and Availability
The M-Audio Session Music Producer will be available in September 2007 with a street price of $99. M-Audio's consumer products are available at major retailers such as Amazon.com, Apple Store and Best Buy.

www.m-audio.com

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The Next Generation of Aleratec LightScribe Publishing Tower is Now Available

Aleratec, Inc., leading developer and manufacturer of Aleratec Award Winning "Prosumers' Choice" solutions for the Blu-ray, DVD/CD, USB duplicating, and DVD/CD publishing markets announced today it is shipping the 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS with a more powerful Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite and the industry’s fastest DVDRW LightScribe recorders. The Publishing Tower supports up to four simultaneous DVD/CD copies, recordings, or produces up to four Silk Screen Quality LightScribe labeled discs. The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS is a DVD/CD duplicator with LightScribe technology that simultaneously laser burns custom labels directly on DVD/CD discs like its predecessor, except it can duplicate discs even faster. Customers can create their own custom labels, with text and graphics, using the unique Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite, included free with purchase.

"We have been pleased with the broad acceptance of our 1:4 towers and we are confident that the faster 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS will be even more successful," stated Perry Solomon, President and CEO. "The new 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS comes with a new Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite that is Windows Vista compatible and can duplicate more discs in less time than its predecessor. LightScribe disc labeling to multiple drives is a rapidly growing application of LightScribe technology, and it’s only from Aleratec. Per disc production time is dramatically reduced and there is no printer required, filling the void between one-off publishers and robotic systems."

LightScribe technology is an integrated system that combines LightScribe enabled DVD/CD recorders with specially coated media and the powerful Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite to produce precise, laser-etched, silkscreen quality labels with superior sharpness and clarity. There is no need for a printer that usually requires expensive proprietary consumables "The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS is an elegant and simple DVD/CD publishing system, and it immediately benefits from the recent LightScribe image enhancements released last month ," said Kent Henscheid, Marketing Manager for LightScribe.. "We believe the Aleratec 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS is another example of the perfect fit of LightScribe technology with DVD/CD disc publishing from Aleratec."

The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS (Aleratec Part # 260160, Ingram Micro SKU # M46536), is the next generation Aleratec LightScribe DVD/CD Production Publisher. The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS has a low Estimated Retail Price of $739 making the 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher HLS, the second generation disc publishing system ideal for Prosumer, Corporate, Government, Education, and House of Worship applications.

The full line of Aleratec DVD and CD recording solutions, duplication solutions, and accessories is featured at 4SURE.com, AAFES, Adorama, Amazon.com, B&H Photo Video, Best Buy, Buy.com, CDW, Circuit City, CompUSA, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, Insight, J & R, Mac Connection, MacMall, Micro Center, NewEgg, Office Depot, PC Connection, PC Mall, PC Nation, ProVantage, Quill, Ritz Camera, Staples, Target, Tech Depot and Wal-Mart in addition to other leading retailers. Government and Education customers may purchase from Government and Education Specialists including AAFES, B&H Photo Video Gov, Best Buy Gov/Ed, CDW-G, CompuCom, CompUSA, Daly Computer, EnPointe, Fed Tek, GCI, GE IT Solutions, GovConnection, GOVPLACE, Green Pages, GTSI, Horizon, Insight Gov, INTELLI-TECH, PC Mall Gov, Pomeroy, Sarcom, Sayers, Shi.com, Softchoice, Sparco.com, telcobuy, TIG, and Unisys. All products are available to resellers in the U.S. through D&H Distributing, DBL Distributing, and Ingram Micro; in Canada through D&H Canada and Ingram Micro Canada.

Complete information available at http://www.aleratec.com.

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Pioneer Blu-ray Disc Drive with Multi-Format Reading and Writing Now Available to Professional Users

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. is now shipping the BDC-202, the professional Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD combination drive. The BDC-202 BD-ROM and DVD/CD writer offers industry-leading engineering as well as Blu-ray Disc playback, DVD authoring and is optionally packaged with Corel® media software for enhanced functionality. The BDC-202 continues Pioneer’s long track record of providing innovative, dependable computer drives for professional content creators and is now available to discerning creative professionals.

"For industry professionals and enthusiasts seeking to play high definition Blu-ray Disc movie titles on a PC in addition to writing to DVD and CD, the Pioneer BDC-202 combination drive functions as an all in one, high-value solution," said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.

High Definition Playback
The newly designed drive offers playback of high definition Hollywood Blu-ray Disc movie titles on a properly configured PC. The BDC-202 internal Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD combo drive also allows users to access and transfer data files onto DVD and CD. It reads BD-ROM, BD-R, and BD-RE single layer discs up to 5x speed and dual layer BD-ROM, BD-R, and BD-RE discs up to 2x speed. It will also read and write to most DVD and CD formats. The BDC-202 features a Serial ATA (SATA) Interface and ships with an optional, full-featured Corel® media software suite. The software suite includes Blu-ray Disc playback software as well as enhanced functionality to design personalized DVD movies, create digital photo slideshows, burn music files to CD, backup files to DVD and CD, and more.

The BDC-202 is available in beige or black through distribution at Bell Micro, Broadfield, D&H, PLPC, SED, and Samtack.

Pioneer has been an innovator of optical disc technology since it brought LaserDisc, the precursor to DVD, to market in 1980. Pioneer went on to introduce the first DVD writer for computer use in 1997, the first DVD recorder as a VCR replacement in 1999, the first DVD/CD writer for home computer users in 2001 and the first Blu-ray Disc writer in 2006. Pioneer Corporation is one of the Blu-ray Disc Founders.

Pioneer’s Home Entertainment and Business Solutions Group develops high definition home theater equipment for sports and entertainment junkies. Its flat panel televisions, Blu-ray Disc players, A/V receivers and speakers heighten the emotions created by great HD content. The company brands include Pioneer® and Elite®. When purchased from an authorized retailer, consumers receive a limited warranty for one year with Pioneer products and two years with Elite products.

More details can be located at www.pioneerelectronics.com.

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Enhance Technology Launches UltraStor RS16 SAS RAID Storage

Enhance Technology, Inc., the market leader in enterprise and OEM storage systems, today unveiled their professional line of next generation SAS RAID storage solutions, the UltraStor RS16 SS, bringing the most cost-effective, integrated, & versatile Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) storage solution into the market. Built on the award-winning enclosure design, RAID technology, and dual 3Gb SAS connections, UltraStor RS16 SS provides a perfect blend of RAID protection and performance. New features include RAID-6 data protection, non-destructive RAID level migration, automatic background data regeneration, dynamic online volume expansion, streamlined web-based management and Multi-Path I/O support for Windows workstations & servers.

The UltraStor RS16 SS, a 3U 16-disk SAS storage array, represents the best performing SAS RAID storage solution currently available on the market capable of data transfers rates in excess of 800MB/s. RS16 SS combines latest SAS architecture and RAID technologies brings lower costs and higher performance as well as greater scalability and reliability to data intensive applications and mission-critical network environments. The new SAS RAID system supports up to 16TB of data across 16 SATA drives on RAID 5/6 with its powerful storage management tools used by small and medium businesses for its low cost and high capacity, and 4.8TB of SAS disks (300GB x 16) storage preferred by enterprise applications as a cost-effective alternative to Fibre Channel.

A fully programmable 3Gb SAS RAID controller can be configured for virtually any RAID level (0, 1, 0+1, 3, 5, 10, 50 and 6) to meet various data protection requirements and it provides professional features include automatic data regeneration, industry standard interface ports and a streamlined web-based management. Hot­-swapable, redundant components including drive trays, power supplies, and cooling modules enable system maintenance without interruption of service. Pricing for the UltraStor RS16 SS starts at $4,950 for the unpopulated system and is now available with scalable storage capacity up to 16TB on RAID-5/6 on SAS or SATA HDDs directly through Enhance Technology and its authorized dealers worldwide.

www.enhance-tech.com

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