Video / Hands-on Review

Matrox MXO2 Ships


Back in April at the NAB convention in Las Vegas, Matrox announced the new MXO2, a complete Mac-based I/O device designed to expand Final Cut Studio and Adobe Production Premium CS3. After months of eagerly awaiting this lightweight, portable breakout box, the MXO2 has finally started to ship. Unfortunately, we were unable to acquire a test unit at press time, but check back with B&H's Pro Video News Archive page for a detailed review in the very near future.

The MXO2 main difference from its predecessor, the MXO, is that it is able to ingest video (SDI - HD/SD, Component, Y/C, Composite and HDMI) and audio (2 XLR, 2 RCA, 2 AES/EBU, SDI embedded – up to 8 channels and HDMI embedded - up to 8 channels). Outputs are the same as the inputs, except there are also 4 XLR and 6 RCA audio ports. The MXO2 can Genlock to any type of video input or to house sync with controls for cable timing delays.

The MXO2 is also a truly portable device that can fit in most laptop bags along with a MacBook Pro. By running off AC or standard field batteries, you can easily capture footage and edit on location immediately.

Included with the MXO2 are an ExpressCard/34 card for MacBook Pro connectivity and a PCIe card for MacPro's. By using the Express/34 slot on the MacBook Pro, external storage should connect via the Firewire 800 port. The bandwidth is there to edit multiple layers of 10-bit uncompressed SD or compressed HD, as well as 6 layers of DV, 8 layers of HDV 1080i and 2 layers of DVCPRO HD.

The Matrox MXO2 supports ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 HQ and is able to capture in those formats and 720p and 1080i in realtime, using a Quad-Core 2.4GHz Mac. Until we get our hands on a unit, the jury will still be out if the MXO2 can capture ProRes 422 HQ with the MacBook Pro's, although there shouldn't be any issues capturing SD. ProRes 422 is Apple's high-definition lossy video compression that delivers higher quality video while using less expensive hard drives compared to uncompressed video. MXO2 also supports HDV, DVCPRO HD, XDCAM HD, XCAM HD 422, and XDCAM EX.

Like the MXO, the MXO2 is a sophisticated monitoring device. By selecting up to five simultaneous video outputs for monitoring or final output, you can view images by selecting either SD or HD and listen to 5.1 surround sound audio. This makes it a convenient tool for any post suite looking to show clients a variety of video resolutions. The MXO2 also has a HDMI proc amp calibration utility that lets you set the signal to an HDMI monitor for accurate color representation.

MXO2 can also upscale or downscale video with the 10-bit hardware scaling included. The realtime scaler can let you upscale from NTSC/PAL to either 720 or 1080, and downscale the opposite direction. The realtime scaler can also output both HD and SD simultaneously from the same project file making those last minute final mastering runs we've all experienced a little bit easier. Cross conversion is also available between 720 and 1080. Realtime frame rate conversion is possible by outputting 23.98 to tape at 29.97 fps.

Included with a three year warranty, the MXO2 requirements are Intel-based Mac Pro or MacBook Pro (Mac OS X v10.5 or later); one free PCIe slot on the Mac Pro or the Matrox PCIe host adapter or one free ExpressCard/34 slot for MacBook Pro installations; 2 GB RAM for compressed HD and uncompressed SD or 4 GB RAM for uncompressed HD sources; and a HDMI monitor that supports 1920×1080.