Innovative solutions for post production professionals

Matrox MXO2 Mini

I’ve been a fan and user of Matrox capture cards for several years now, beginning with the RT.X100, and more recently the RT.X2, which added HD editing capabilities. These cards offer analog video capture and playback, in addition to the standard 1394 Firewire i/o offered with most computers.

If there’s a downside to the RT.X2, it’s that the desktop host PC hardware must meet specific requirements, and it doesn’t work with laptops or Mac computers. These concerns are addressed with the new MXO2 Mini.

The MXO2 Mini is a small, external box that works with both Mac and PC, laptop or desktop. It comes with your choice of a PCIe 1x host adaptor card for desktop use, or an ExpressCard/34 adaptor for laptop users. By simply getting an extra adaptor, the Mini could easily be moved between desktop and laptop for those days when you’d like to edit out on the deck and enjoy the weather.

The Mini features HDMI in and out, which is very desirable since practically all new camcorders and LCD displays use the HDMI interface. This is especially helpful for users of AVCHD cameras, since the native format is difficult to edit. Just play back the footage from the camera and capture to a more edit-friendly codec via HDMI. On the output side, HDMI allows full-screen SD or HD monitoring, as well as color calibration on inexpensive LCDs, enabling them to be used for reliable color grading.

Besides HDMI, analog audio and video capture/playback is also supported. On the Mac, video can be captured uncompressed or to any FCP-supported codec, including ProRes. For PCs, Matrox offers their own MPEG-2 I-Frame SD/HD codec, as well as uncompressed video capture.

Using the MXO2 Mini’s 10-bit hardware scaler, video can be up, down or cross-converted during both capture and playback. This makes it much easier to mix SD, 720 HD and 1080 HD formats.

The Mini doesn’t offer the realtime effects of the RT.X2, but it can be had with an amazing option known as Matrox MAX technology. MAX offers hardware-accelerated H.264 encoding at faster than realtime speeds. This is important because H.264 encoding typically takes 4-5 times longer than realtime to render, which can mean hours of lost productivity on each job.

On the Mac, the MAX technology works with Apple Compressor, and on the PC, it uses the Adobe Media Encoder. Whether working on an 8-core workstation or a laptop, users will experience the same H.264 encoding speeds since the MAX hardware is doing all the work instead of the host machine’s CPU.

As H.264 is the standard for Blu-ray, YouTube, iPod and many other export destinations, every editor can benefit greatly from this technology to deliver the final production to meet a variety of needs.

Note: The MAX technology is also being offered by Matrox as a stand-alone item called CompressHD. This half-length PCIe card works in PC or Mac desktops, with the above mentioned encoding benefits available to users.

An added benefit of the MXO2 Mini is the WYSIWYG support for both Mac and PC. On the Mac, any application that supports V-out can output video through the Mini, such as FCP, Apple Color, and Adobe After Effects. Used with a PC, MXO2 Mini can output video from Adobe Encore, Photoshop CS4, After Effects CS4, and other popular compositing and 3D applications.

Whether you edit with Final Cut Pro on the Mac or Premiere CS4 on the PC, the MXO2 Mini offers a lot of great features at an unheard of price point. Besides, it just plain looks good on any edit desk, so check it out!

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Matrox MXO2 Mini