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January 07, 2008

Table of Contents

Strictly Business: Cool Toys vs. ROI
New On EventDV's TechThoughts Blog: Sony HVR-Z7U/S270 Lens Issue?
Microboards Brings Flash Duplication to Content Distribution Market
Flip4Mac Image Server Component for Final Cut Pro Now Available
Introducing Ridata DVD+R DL 16X Double Layer Optical Disc
Corsair Introduces 32GB High-Density USB Flash Drives For Flash Voyager And Flash Survivor At CES 2008
XLNT Idea, Inc. Unveils Nexis Pro DVD/CD Automated Publishing System at CES 2008
LaCie Expands Mobile Capacity to 320GB for Its Rugged All-Terrain and Little Disk Families

Strictly Business: Cool Toys vs. ROI

In case you haven’t noticed lately, high-definition (HD) is being advertised everywhere. Analog TVs are being pulled from the shelves of big-box electronic stores, and your local TV channels are promoting themselves through HD high school sports coverage. Even some of your clients and prospects are asking if you shoot in HD. Makes you want to run out and buy your very own HDX-what-have-ya, doesn’t it? Now I agree that HD is pretty breathtaking, but despite the hype, most people don’t have HD-ready TVs or other HD viewing capabilities, and they won’t have these things for some time. So what are consumers (meaning your clients and prospects) really looking for? Here’s a hint, ladies and gentlemen: It’s not about the picture and sound quality. Not by a long shot.

Sure, right now everyone wants the big-screen TVs and beautiful pictures. But look around you—the generation coming up doesn’t care. The next generation is watching Academy Award-winning movies on cell phones and creating international hits on YouTube.

The real value of digital technology is "distribution flexibility"—or, as I like to describe it, the ability to watch every piece of content ever created whenever and wherever you want.

After watching run-of-the-mill HD programming for 10 minutes, the value of the image/sound quality fades as you realize the show you’re seeing is just as stupid in HD as it was in SD. Only real technophiles—and, however vocal they may be, they really are a small percentage of the viewing population—can actually appreciate the image and sound quality of HD after a certain point. No, friends, it isn’t about the packaging after all, no matter how hard the hardware marketers are trying to convince you. It’s all about the content.

Don’t get me wrong. There are things I really like about digital technology. Through digital technology, the opportunity exists for me—if I’m so inclined—to watch all my local high school’s chess team’s home matches. Instead of being forced to consume what my local newscast pushes at me here in Michigan, I can pull World Cup soccer match results from a specific London TV station reporter. I can draw down the latest market news from Zurich, Switzerland. I can watch live crowds stroll down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I can get local business coverage from the beat manager at Channel 9 in Charlotte, N.C. I can get Middle East coverage from a resource I enjoy in Saudi Arabia. I can watch my friend Patricia’s latest Little Feat home movies, uploaded on YouTube. I can see videos of my friends’ sweet little baby girl, dancin’ with her mommy and daddy in their Alexandria, Va., kitchen.

The point is, through digital technology, I can customize my viewing experience at the smallest niche possible. I can combine pro journalists using the very best cameras and broadcast equipment to relay their news, opinions, and event coverage with amateurs using cheap cell phones to accomplish the same thing. The mix isn’t important.

My goal here is a simple one: to get what I want. Period. I can choose the media I’m interested in—video, text, audio—from darn near any networked device, such as a TV, a handheld, a phone, or even the monitor in my car. You don’t need to buy an HD camera to connect with me. All you have to do to get my attention is point out the fact that you have the goods that I want right now.

What does this mean to you as a videographer? All you need to do is work on connecting with the "network"; discover and begin using those mechanisms that will help consumers—your prospects—find what they want among all of the choices out there. Against this very desirable (and attainable) goal, paying $4,000 or more for a 10% bump in picture quality means absolutely nothing.

I’m not knocking HD. But I am using it as an example of how you should think before you buy new toys. Here are a few questions to ask before pulling out that credit card: • Does the bride really want you to use this, or is she just parroting something she’s read in an article titled "10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Videographer?"

  • How quick is your return on investment? If you’re charging the same thing as before—no premium price to haul out the new gear—why bother with HD?
  • Would you be better off spending that money marketing your business?
  • Are you defined by the quality of your work or the number of gadgets you own?

Buying and using HD is fine as long as you’re making a ton of money. If you’re not, why spend the money you do have on toys that won’t add to your return on investment? Why not spend that money on promoting your business and bringing in more business? That way you’ll make more money to spend on an even better HD rig when the time is right.

Steve Yankee (syankee at opinmarketing.com) has more than 35 years of vieo production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Michigan.

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New On EventDV's TechThoughts Blog: Sony HVR-Z7U/S270 Lens Issue?

Marshall Levy, who wrote our compact flash media test results, is finding issues with the lenses that adorn the latest HDV camcorders from Sony- the HVR-Z7U and the HVR-S270. He’s found focusing issues, lens wobble and says the issue was confirmed by Sony. Click here to read more.

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Microboards Brings Flash Duplication to Content Distribution Market

Microboards announces offering of flash media and duplicators In a surprising move in the optical industry today, duplication leader Microboards Technology announced an offering of hardware and supplies for duplicating on Flash media. Known for its broad range of DVD, CD, and Blu-ray duplicators and printers, Microboards has expanded its offering to include the write-many media that is taking the data world by storm.

Flash Media has taken off largely because of its portability and non-volatility. Increasing capacity and near-instantaneous access speed makes it more popular every day, especially in mobile applications. "Flash media is more than the memory stick for your camera or your USB thumbdrive – it is everywhere", says Microboards CTO John Westrum. "It is in cellphones, the iPod, GPS devices, and cars."

Despite the groundbreaking news from Microboards, no indication was given that Microboards is moving away from their CD/DVD mainstay business. "Optical media still has a growing place in the content world", says Aaron Pratt, Microboards Director of Marketing. "CD/DVD still has a much better cost-per-distributed-unit. It has a great printable surface for labeling, a process Microboards is well-known for in the optical market. And the optical disc is the only solution when write-once permanence is important. Even though the cost-per-megabyte is dropping rapidly with flash, and obviously people are moving a lot of their content onto flash, widespread distribution of data, video, and audio is still being done on CD and DVD."

Instead, Microboards acknowledges that there are emerging applications and needs that Flash works well for. "Flash has a unique and rapidly growing place in the market, and we are positioned to help organizations benefit from it" says Pratt. Microboards’ channel of professional A/V resellers, for example, has expertise in helping content owners distribute digital video and audio, and the added offering gives them another tool to use to benefit their customers.

Microboards offering includes a multi-drive standalone duplicator (operating without a computer) that automatically erases, formats, or copies thumb drives asynchronously. "Keeping with our tradition of high-speed and ease-of-use, our flash duplicators are designed to enable flawlessly copying from master to target without intensive setup or operator training", says Westrum. Microboards will also offer a complete line of blank flash drives.

"We anticipate a broader offering in the very near future, as we continue to gather feedback around the types of media that our users would like us to support, as well as the way they are using the new media" says Westrum. "As always, we design our products for our users – making them simple to use so that they can focus on their business."

More information is available at www.microboards.com.

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Flip4Mac Image Server Component for Final Cut Pro Now Available

Telestream, the provider of award-winning Flip4Mac® digital media tools for the Mac, today announced availability of the newest addition to its growing line of professional MXF components. The Image Server Component for Final Cut Pro provides IMX (MPEG-2) file compatibility, and direct file transfer between 360 Systems' MAXX servers, and Apple's Final Cut Pro editing systems.

"We are pleased to expand Flip4Mac support into Final Cut Pro for the new generation of 360 Systems' MAXX servers," said Barbara DeHart, VP of Flip4Mac Products. "Final Cut users can now pull content directly from their Image Server into Final Cut Pro, edit it and move it back to the server for playout, enabling a faster file-based workflow for IMX content."

Telestream leverages its expertise in digital media workflows to make file-based media workflows between Final Cut Pro editing applications and professional servers and disc-based cameras a reality for many Mac users. The Flip4Mac Image Server Component imports MPEG-2 IMX 30/40/50 M/bit standard definition video, uncompressed audio, and metadata from the MAXX server directly into the Final Cut Pro project bin for editing. It also exports the MPEG project from Final Cut Pro for seamless Ethernet file transfer back to MAXX servers. This file-based workflow provides greater speed, efficiency and productivity for Mac users.

"This tight integration is key to providing a faster, more convenient workflow for transferring media between our servers and Final Cut Pro editing environments," said Robert Easton, President of 360 Systems.

360 Systems' MAXX servers are a new generation of video server that offers broadcast quality and reliability at a reasonable price. MAXX Servers use MPEG-2 as the primary file format, and are available in both NTSC and PAL formats. Their extensive feature set makes them an excellent choice for VTR replacement, satellite ingest, and as play-to-air servers. The MAXX Server includes 3 video channels, and stores up to 170 hours of MPEG-2 video on internal drives.

Priced at $495, the Flip4Mac Image Server Component is now available for online purchase at http://www.flip4mac.com.

www.telestream.net

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Introducing Ridata DVD+R DL 16X Double Layer Optical Disc

Advanced Media, Inc., manufacturer and marketer of the popular RIDATA brand of recordable CD and DVD media, electronic storage products, and digital media accessories, is introducing a 16x DVD+R Double Layer optical disc to its large DVD product line. With an amazing 8.5GB of storage capacity, the advanced, single-sided disc is ideal for virtually any business or household application.

"The RIDATA 16X DVD+R Double-Layer discs feature a dramatically increased 16X speed. Users will enjoy fast recording times and reliable storage with a wide range of playback options," stated Harvey Liu, Advanced Media president. "The DVD+R double layer market is growing, it more than doubled in size last year and demand continues to be strong. We are pleased to be the first offer this competitively priced product to the retail industry for 2008."

The faster 16X speed greatly shortens the recording time of virtually any audio, video, or data file. A convenient double-layer configuration allows users to read, write, or view nearly twice the amount of data than with single-layer 4.7GB DVD discs without having to flip sides or change discs. The RIDATA dual-layer product stores up to four hours of DVD-quality video, 16 hours of VHS-quality video, or over 120 hours of MP3 audio.

Advanced Media developed technology that allows material to be either read or recorded on one layer without affecting the other layer. When data is being recorded or read, it does so continuously from the first layer to the second without interruption. Its high quality, dependable organic-dye recording material is more than capable of handling the 16X rate.

Making use of the various focuses of a laser beam, the RIDATA 16X DVD+R DL makes double layers on the same side of the disc. The write power on the two layers is the same (<30mW) as is the reflectivity rate (18%~30%). When data is duplicated, it is continuously recorded from the first to the second layer without interruption. When read, the data flow is constant through the second layer.

The Advanced Media double-layer disc has been certified to be in compliance with the DVD+R Alliance, which parent company RITEK is a member of. Additionally, the new storage medium has been quality tested by a variety of burner manufacturers and software developers, all of whom have given it their stamp of approval.

The new RIDATA 16X dual-layer disc offers excellent compatibility with popular DVD-based video players, game consoles, and DVD-ROM drives as well as DVD+R DL drives.

The RIDATA 16X DVD+R DL optical medium is competitively priced. Along with this new 16X DVD+R version, the RIDATA brand also includes 4X and 8X regular and printable double-layer optical discs.

www.ritekusa.com

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Corsair Introduces 32GB High-Density USB Flash Drives For Flash Voyager And Flash Survivor At CES 2008

Corsair, a worldwide leader in high performance computer and flash memory products, announced today that it is expanding its Flash Voyager and Flash Survivor USB family lines with new 32GB capacity offerings. The new Corsair 32GB Flash Voyager and Flash Survivor USB drives will be debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008 (CES) next week in Las Vegas in the Corsair Suite at the Wynn Hotel and at Showstoppers CES 2008.

Users now have the ultimate solution for storing, transporting and backing up large amounts of personal and professional data. Whether using the Corsair proprietary all-rubber Flash Voyager or the aluminum-encased water-proof Flash Survivor, the large amounts of data on the drive will be safeguarded for users with an active lifestyle. Corsair USB drives provide the added ruggedness and performance not found in other storage drives utilizing rotating media.

Corsair 32GB drives provide the storage capacity necessary to hold over 16 full-length, high-definition movies or even an entire season of your favorite TV series. These large density drives can also be used as portable back-up devices for critical or sensitive information. In addition, Corsair 32GB USB 2.0 drives are bootable, which means users can actually store full versions of operating systems and applications in order to quickly "re-create" the necessary software environments to troubleshoot system problems.

Corsair 32GB USB drives are immediately available:
• Flash Voyager 32GB ~ $229.99 USD MSRP
• Flash Survivor 32GB ~ $249.99 USD MSRP

"Whether with innovative designs, like the Flash Voyager and Flash Survivor, or industry leading large-density drives in convenient portable form-factors, Corsair is always pushing the limit of what USB portable storage has to offer," said Jack Peterson, VP of Marketing at Corsair. "Our newest USB additions will allow a whole new set of users – multimedia, technical and data conscious – to take advantage of rugged, high-performance solid-state storage," added Peterson.

Corsair 32GB USB drives are available through Corsair’s authorized distributors and resellers world-wide. Each drive is bundled with a lanyard, security software/driver preloaded, and USB extension cable. Corsair flash products are backed by a 10-year Limited Warranty. Complete customer support via telephone, email, forum and TS Xpress is also available. For more information on Corsair USB drives, please visit http://www.corsair.com.

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XLNT Idea, Inc. Unveils Nexis Pro DVD/CD Automated Publishing System at CES 2008

XLNT Idea Inc., a leading US Based Manufacturer of DVD and CD Printing, and Publishing Systems, is exhibiting its new Nexis Pro DVD / CD burn and print publishing system at CES 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 07 – 10, 2008. Featuring a two drive configuration, vastly improved print engine, and true six color printing capability, the Nexis Pro system represents XLNT Idea’s ongoing cutting edge design and engineering capability. Nexis Pro will also include a new and improved version of XLNT Idea’s Disc Studio software, providing users with the most intuitive and user friendly label editing application available today. The Nexis Pro will be released at an MSRP of $ 2795.00 and can be purchased from an authorized XLNT Idea VAR or Dealer Partner.

Dale K., VP of Engineering commented, "Nexis Pro is designed to dramatically increase disc throughput from approximately 20 CD’s per hour to over 50 CD’s per hour, and will more than double throughput for DVD’s as well. In addition, the improved printer core integrated into Nexis Pro allows users to achieve 4800 dpi 'best' print quality at under two and a half minutes per disc, the astest in the industry."

Chuck Alcon Jr, Director of Sales and Marketing added, "Nexis Pro is an exciting new addition to our product line, and gives users a more robust DVD / CD automated disc creation systems at an aggressive price point. We remain committed to providing our channel partners with a complete suite of solutions that meet the widest variety of applications and environments. And, we continue our focus on offering our systems with the lowest cost of ownership in the industry."

www.xlntidea.com

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LaCie Expands Mobile Capacity to 320GB for Its Rugged All-Terrain and Little Disk Families

LaCie announced today increased capacity to 320GB for its Rugged All-Terrain Hard Disk, design by Neil Poulton and the 2.5-inch Little Disk, design by Sam Hecht. Ideal for data backup and easy data transfers between computers, the 2.5-inch Little Disk is available in either USB 2.0 or USB 2.0 and FireWire 400, while the rugged is available in USB 2.0 and a USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire800 version for speedier data transfers.

Simple plug and play allows these drives to interact smoothly with any laptop or desktop computer’s USB or FireWire port to add increased mobile storage for all-types of digital media including music, photographs and documents. Without the need for an additional AC adaptor, the Rugged and the 2.5-inch Little Disk now offer the largest capacities available for any single-disk portable drive.

"People have a tendency nowadays to travel more and need extra space to store and share their data. Just a few years ago, maximum capacity for a standard 2.5-inch mobile hard drive was just 80GB," said Nolwenn Rozen, LaCie Mobile Product Manager. "Today LaCie is capable of reaching capacity four times greater than what was once available. By increasing the capacity of our most popular products, LaCie continues to be on the forefront in providing the latest technologies and capacities to our customers."

The LaCie Rugged is a tough and speedy portable hard drive for people on the go and is designed to protect data against everyday bumps, bruises and hard knocks of the real world. Its unique aluminum shell and rubber bumper protect it from table-height drops for extra protection.

Stylish and compact, the Little Disk features a high-gloss, elegant design with clean, simple lines and comes with a removable protective cap. The integrated, extractable USB cable pulls out and retracts so it can never be lost or forgotten. The Little Disk is durable and very lightweight for transporting data from one machine to another. Bundled synchronization software allows users to access and modify files, emails (Microsoft Outlook) or personal settings and it will sync updated data back to the host computer.

The 320GB Rugged and 2.5-inch Little Disk can store up to 400 movies, 72,000 Songs, or 288,000 photos.

The LaCie Rugged and 2.5-inch Little Disk in the 320GB capacity will be available late January from LaCie direct and widely available via LaCie’s specialized dealer network at the suggested retail price starting at $199. Capacities ranging from 60GB to 250GB are currently available for both the Rugged and Little Disk family at prices starting from $89.

For more product information, visit www.lacie.com.

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