Have you tried desktop video editing yet?

Summary:Columnists John Morris and Josh Taylor try out some systems with internal DVD-R drives that could finally make desktop video ready for the mainstream.

COMMENTARY--Despite its promise, digital video editing has been slow to make it into the mainstream. Three major obstacles have stood in its way: how to get it onto your PC, what to do with it once you got it there, and how to get edited video off again to share with others.

Cheaper digital videocams and FireWire technology that allows fast data transfers helped solve the first problem. Larger hard disks and video-editing packages designed for consumers addressed the second snafu. Now we have the final piece of the puzzle, thanks to the emergence of DVD-Recordable (DVD-R) drives. ZDNet Reviews recently tested three of the first desktop systems--Apple Power Mac G4/733, Compaq Presario 7000T-1.7, and Sony Vaio Digital Studio PCV-RX490TV--that roll all these technologies into a single solution targeted at consumers. But are any of these ready for prime time?

All three of these systems share the same drive: an OEM version of the Pioneer DVR-A03 DVD-R/RW drive, which lets you burn DVD-Rs that can be played back in most DVD drives and players. (Apple refers to it as the SuperDrive, but it's the same product.) In an earlier column, we discussed the various DVD formats. DVD-R is a write-once format that lets you store up to 4.7GB of data on a single-sided disc. In addition to DVD-R, the $1,000 internal ATAPI drive can read and write to CD-R, CD-RW, and, in theory, DVD-RW--although media for the latter isn't widely available yet. Although the drive's performance is sluggish, ZDNet Labs found that it performs as advertised and burns DVD-R discs that work in players from a variety of manufacturers, including Denon, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony, Toshiba, and Yamaha. Just don't expect to copy your favorite DVD movies, since CSS (Content Scrambling System) prevents it.

The drive, however, is really just the start for these high-end desktops. The Power Mac G4/733, Apple's flagship desktop, features a 733MHz PowerPC G4, 256MB of memory, a 61.5GB hard disk, and an Nvidia GeForce2 MX video card with 32MB of memory. It comes with iMovie 2.0.3, Apple's excellent entry-level video-editing program, and iDVD for creating on-screen menus for your homegrown DVDs. The Compaq Presario 7000T-1.7 with MyMovieStudio includes a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor, 256MB RAM, a 75GB hard drive, and a GeForce3 graphics card with 64MB DDR SDRAM. It is bundled with Pinnacle Systems' StudioDV for video capture and editing. Finally, the Sony Vaio Digital Studio PCV-RX490TV has the same processor, but comes with 128MB memory, an 80GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce2 MX video card with 32MB memory. In addition to Adobe Premiere LE for video editing, the Vaio Digital Studio adds a twist: a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) card and accompanying software for recording television programs to DVD-R discs.

Unfortunately, the Vaio Digital Studio suffers from a fatal flaw--it includes a slower hard drive (5,400rpm) that is inadequate for digital video. The other two systems include faster, 7,200rpm drives, and are both good choices. The Presario 7000T delivers better 3D performance, but you can upgrade the Power Mac G4 to an Nvidia GeForce3 video card with 64MB memory for $250. Ultimately, it comes down to your preference for operating system and digital video-editing software.

The only real drawback to these all-in-one digital video systems is price--depending on the monitor you choose, they can easily surpass $3,000. For more on digital video hardware and software, visit ZDNet Reviews' Digital Video guide. Finally, to put those professional finishing touches on your masterpiece, take a look at Adobe After Effects, which just earned a ZDNet Best Buy award.

Have you tried desktop video editing yet? Are these types of system going to be hits? Or are they just so much hype? TalkBack to us. COMMENTARY--Despite its promise, digital video editing has been slow to make it into the mainstream. Three major obstacles have stood in its way: how to get it onto your PC, what to do with it once you got it there, and how to get edited video off again to share with others.

Cheaper digital videocams and FireWire technology that allows fast data transfers helped solve the first problem. Larger hard disks and video-editing packages designed for consumers addressed the second snafu. Now we have the final piece of the puzzle, thanks to the emergence of DVD-Recordable (DVD-R) drives. ZDNet Reviews recently tested three of the first desktop systems--Apple Power Mac G4/733, Compaq Presario 7000T-1.7, and Sony Vaio Digital Studio PCV-RX490TV--that roll all these technologies into a single solution targeted at consumers. But are any of these ready for prime time?

All three of these systems share the same drive: an OEM version of the Pioneer DVR-A03 DVD-R/RW drive, which lets you burn DVD-Rs that can be played back in most DVD drives and players. (Apple refers to it as the SuperDrive, but it's the same product.) In an earlier column, we discussed the various DVD formats. DVD-R is a write-once format that lets you store up to 4.7GB of data on a single-sided disc. In addition to DVD-R, the $1,000 internal ATAPI drive can read and write to CD-R, CD-RW, and, in theory, DVD-RW--although media for the latter isn't widely available yet. Although the drive's performance is sluggish, ZDNet Labs found that it performs as advertised and burns DVD-R discs that work in players from a variety of manufacturers, including Denon, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony, Toshiba, and Yamaha. Just don't expect to copy your favorite DVD movies, since CSS (Content Scrambling System) prevents it.

The drive, however, is really just the start for these high-end desktops. The Power Mac G4/733, Apple's flagship desktop, features a 733MHz PowerPC G4, 256MB of memory, a 61.5GB hard disk, and an Nvidia GeForce2 MX video card with 32MB of memory. It comes with iMovie 2.0.3, Apple's excellent entry-level video-editing program, and iDVD for creating on-screen menus for your homegrown DVDs. The Compaq Presario 7000T-1.7 with MyMovieStudio includes a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor, 256MB RAM, a 75GB hard drive, and a GeForce3 graphics card with 64MB DDR SDRAM. It is bundled with Pinnacle Systems' StudioDV for video capture and editing. Finally, the Sony Vaio Digital Studio PCV-RX490TV has the same processor, but comes with 128MB memory, an 80GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce2 MX video card with 32MB memory. In addition to Adobe Premiere LE for video editing, the Vaio Digital Studio adds a twist: a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) card and accompanying software for recording television programs to DVD-R discs.

Unfortunately, the Vaio Digital Studio suffers from a fatal flaw--it includes a slower hard drive (5,400rpm) that is inadequate for digital video. The other two systems include faster, 7,200rpm drives, and are both good choices. The Presario 7000T delivers better 3D performance, but you can upgrade the Power Mac G4 to an Nvidia GeForce3 video card with 64MB memory for $250. Ultimately, it comes down to your preference for operating system and digital video-editing software.

The only real drawback to these all-in-one digital video systems is price--depending on the monitor you choose, they can easily surpass $3,000. For more on digital video hardware and software, visit ZDNet Reviews' Digital Video guide. Finally, to put those professional finishing touches on your masterpiece, take a look at Adobe After Effects, which just earned a ZDNet Best Buy award.

Have you tried desktop video editing yet? Are these types of system going to be hits? Or are they just so much hype? TalkBack to us.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Toshiba

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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