In the Forums...
Posted: August 31, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen
We have an interesting device for all you readers today. Those of you with excellent Matrox cards are in luck because this review really targets you. Other people without Matrox graphics cards should read this review too if watching TV and encoding videos on your desktop computer interests you.
Matrox has been a long time manufacturer of excellent video products like the well-known Matrox Millennium G400 series with its Environment Mapped Bump Mapping. Currently we are all wondering what Matrox has planned for us in the coming future as it has been a while since they have released any graphics cards based on new architecture.
Have you ever purchased a video card and wished that it were really upgradeable? Perhaps you can just swipe the existing graphics unit for a new one. Maybe that will come one day but we doubt it. That’s because each board has its own features that go with the video processor onboard, like the type of memory. But what if there were ways of upgrading? There is a way.
Matrox Rainbow Runner G Series
The Rainbow Runner G series is a card designed to elevate your existing G series Matrox graphics cards like the G400 MAX. What exactly is it? The Rainbow Runner is designed to let you watch TV and record video straight into your PC. But this card connects to your existing Matrox graphics card via ribbon cables.
Before we go any further though, let’s take a look at its specs:
- High quality video editing on the PC
- Enhanced TV viewing on the PC while browsing the Internet or working in other applications
- Recording high resolution TV clips on the PC
- Frame capture and digital image editing
- Live video conferencing
- Full resolution video capture and playback with hardware MJPEG compression (704 x 576 PAL at 25 fps and 704 x 486 NTSC at 30 fps)
- Easy-to-use Ulead Media Studio 5.02a VE video editing software
- Playback from Cut-List feature saves editing time and hard disk space
- TV tuner for watching TV on the PC
- 'PC-VCR Remote' for recording programs to the hard disk
- Media Studio Pro 5.02a VE from Ulead
- Photo Express 2.0 from Ulead
- VDOPhone Internet trial from VDOnet
- 'PC-VCR Remote' from Matrox
Minimum System Requirements:
- Windows® 95 or 98
- An open PCI slot
- Millennium G400 Series*
- Productiva G100
- Productiva G100 Multi-Monitor
- Millennium G200
- Millennium G200 SD
- Mystique G200
Basically, this card is like any other high quality TV input card except for one thing -- MJPEG compression. The Rainbow Runner G can encode video signals from an external source like CATV or S-Video straight into your hard drive using MJPEG (Motion JPEG) compression. This is a really high quality compression scheme that's almost as good as MPEG2 compression (which is used in DVDs). The compression used on the RRG can reach 720x480 @ 30FPS which is not quite DVD but really good nevertheless.
Also, the good thing about the Rainbow Runner is that it has an onboard codec so all video formatting and recording tasks are done on board and don’t tax your processor so you can do other tasks while encoding video to your hard drive.
Lets take a look at some of the drivers.