DivX and Microsoft’s WMV9 have gotten a lot of attention lately because the technologies really compress your content down to a manageable size. The formats are very efficient for streaming your video over the internet and for condensing files down so they can be used in some of the new SD card slot cellphones, PDAs and pocket PCs. DivX is also a great format for putting a complete video or movie on a VCD you can take with you on long road trips with the kids or to enjoy on your notebook computer on those otherwise long boring flights.
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The challenge, until now, has been getting the raw video content onto your system, painlessly editing it and putting he compressed content onto a video CD or SD card. We have been also looking for a way to make our video more compact and more portable because we have a player in the car to occupy the kids on long trips.
In addition we recently purchased one of the new pocket PC cellphones that has a great SD memory card slot that seems to be great for accessing huge volumes of work related and personal information.
The new ADS Tech Instant VideoMPX seems to be just the answer for people who want to take their video content on the road. The product lets you capture, create and record content in MPEG-1, WMV 9 or DivX formats to video CDs. In our test we were able to store nearly an hour of good quality video on a postage stamp size 512MB SD card.
The palm-sized InstantMPX has a USB 2.0 connection so your uncompressed video can be quickly and easily downloaded to your PC. In addition, the unit includes an RCA (composite) and S-Video input and is supplied with a very good 9-bit video digitizer and 4-line comb filter. The audio inputs are RCA stereo (left and right) and it also supports NTSC, PAL and SECAM multi-national video formats.
For such a little unit, the InstantMPX has a very big user’s manual. Installation of the unit’s drivers and editing/authoring software on your PC is very simple and straightforward.
Simply follow the on-screen instructions and everything is completed in less than five minutes and you’re ready to make your first ultra-compressed video.
ADS recommends that you install the InstantMPX USB 2.0 connector to the port on the back of your system rather than in the front (if one is available). The front may be more convenient but at the back the video you download has a more direct path into the system so there is less of a chance of losing frames when you are downloading content.
The unit comes with Ulead’s Video Studio 8 that is a full-featured video capture and editing package that is very easy to learn and use. We simply chose to capture our content in the DivX format and recorded directly to a Video CD.
Depending upon what video resolution you will be satisfied with and the storage capacity of the media you’ll be writing to, you can adjust the resolution, video bit rate and file size. For example to have 640×480 resolution you’ll have a bit rate of 500 kb/sec and 300MB will be required for an hour of video. At 352×240 resolution the bit rate will be 100 kb/sec and an hour of video will require only 110MB.
As you can see on a video CD it is easy to get 2 hours of high quality video on a single disc. But for an SD card you’ll probably want to use the lower bit rate, which is actually very acceptable, because a palm PC or PDA doesn’t have a high-resolution screen.
When you are ready to input your content you simply select your video and capture property options, choose your inputs and select the desired DivX bit rate. In one step the encoder will encode the video in the DivX format.
The software’s 3-step wizard and automatic edit and trim features let us produce a great looking disc the first time.
Multi-trim cuts out all of the parts you don’t want in one easy step without all of the complex editing you find with most packages. We then sent the video clips and background music to the wizard and it automatically created the completely edited movie.
Once you have encoded your audio and video you can burn your files directly to a CD without any special formatting or addition al disc authoring. Or as in our test we also wrote the compressed video file to our 512MB SD card.
The Microsoft WMV 9 and VCD formats are equally as easy. If you are interested in streaming your video across the Internet you’ll probably want to use WMV 9 because of the low bit rate. VCD writes to the MPEG 1 format which looks as good as your standard VHS viewing and enables you to write about 70 minutes of audio and video on a 700MB CD-R disc.
The entire process with the ADS Tech InstantMPX is remarkably fast and easy.
In no time at all you can rip several DivX CD discs that can play in your video player or your notebook. Or you can slip 3-4 hours of SD card loaded videos into your pocket to enjoy on long flights or while you are in boring meetings. Another great use since kids never seem to agree on which movie they are going to watch, one can watch/listen to one on the car’s DVD player and the other can enjoy his or her movie on your cellphone/pocket PC.
If you really want to do some post production video work you can use the software’s editing tools to add video filters, adjust audio levels and add such wow items as fades, effects, titles, voice narration and similar features.
VideoStudio is very easy to use and deceptively powerful. After capturing your video content you can choose from hundreds of transition special effects and titling tools and even create and add your own soundtrack.
The software’s editor takes you step-by-step through the workflow so you can quickly create a unique movie for yourself or for sharing.
The step bar coaches you through all of the video editing steps while the options panel contains all of the controls, buttons and information you can use to customize the settings of your video. The timeline across he bottom of the screen displays all of the clips, titles and effects in your video project while the preview window shows you what the project will look like before burning it to disc or writing to the storage source.
Your InstantMPX Prepared DivX Videos
If you have a lot of video on your camcorder, old VHS tapes or want to capture and save other content without going through a big video production process and using a lot of DVDs, DivX is a very good format. This is especially true if you want to save a full movie to a disc that costs you almost nothing, want to have your video with you on your PDA/pocket PC or may possibly want to send the video over the internet to friends and family.
We were surprised at how many of today’s players support DivX and how good the playback quality was. Even though hard drives have become so large and so inexpensive today, it is surprising how quickly you can fill them up with very important “stuff” so reducing the size of your video files is always a wise move.
At only $99, the ADS Tech InstantMPX makes it remarkably easy â€“ and economic â€“ to put all of your valuable movies on CDR media. One test we tried just for the heck of it was taking our DivX files and storing them on DVDR. The result? Over six and a half-hours of high quality movies on a single disc.
Because the InstantMPX simply connects into our USB 2.0 port, we can go between our desktop system at home and our business notebook computer to download a video to the PC. Then we can quickly convert the files into DivX format and write them to disc to keep our hard drive free for other work. This keeps the video content very portable and safe because it is archived to very robust media.
USB Instant VideoMPX Deluxe with DivX, WMV 9 and MPEG 1 codecs
Audio/Video connection cable
USB Instant VideoMPX installation CD
Ulead Video Studio 8SE VCD
* DivX Video â€“ an MPEG-4 standard that reduced DVD or pay-per-view content to 10% of its original size. Copies 2-hour movie to single CD-R disc; compatible playback on Pocket PCs, Palm PDAs; supported by newer home entertainment media adapters
* MPEG 1 â€“ low bit rate of 1.5Mb/s (2x CD) with low resolution similar to VHS. Good for video in ppt presentations, creating videoCDs
* VCD (video CD) popular format in Europe, Asia for movies, lower quality than DVD but provides 70 minutes of AV on CD-R. Plays back on leading DVD players
* Microsoft WMV 9 (Windows Media Video 9) is Microsoft’s video compression standard similar to MPEG-4
Pentium 4.2.4GHz, equivalent or greater
USB 2.0 controller or USB port adapter card
Windows XP Home or Pro with SP1 only (minimum)
256MB RAM or greater
100MB HD minimum for software installation
CD-ROM drive for software installation
CD-RW or DVD+/-R/RW burner for creating DivX, WMV or VCD video