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The days of editing with a single monitor are long over, to the point where a second generation of multi-head display cards has clearly emerged. Matrox Graphics’ Parhelia APVe is such a card. With the ability to handle as many as three monitors simultaneously, as well as an NTSC or ATSC monitor with only minor wrangling, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile display adapter.
Double Your Desktop
The Parhelia APVe is a PCI Express 16-lane card, as opposed to the last Parhelia we tested, which was an AGP card. This card was configured for us by Matrox into an HP xw9300 workstation (reviewed November 2005 Videomaker). We started using the card simply, driving a 21" NEC CRT monitor at 1600×1200. Predictably, this setup gave us no problems, and the monitor’s output was rock-steady, with gorgeous color. You can use VGA monitors up to 1920×1440, or DVI monitors up to 1920×1200 in DualHead mode, so full-screen, full-resolution HDV editing would be possible with this card.
All of the board’s flexibility is accessed through Matrox’ PowerDesk-HF utility, which includes a convenient Multi-Display Setup icon for configuring your monitors however you like. Supported modes include stretched (desktop spanning multiple displays, with each display operating at same resolution, refresh rate and color depth), independent (allows different monitors to run at different resolutions/color depths/refresh rates), feature (allows exclusive use of a particular monitor for tasks like video playback) and clone (aka mirror) modes.
We added a second VGA monitor, but we blew through the prompts too quickly and didn’t notice the "Can you see the other monitor?" prompt, which led to our losing the display where our desktop icons, Start Menu and configuration screen were located. Unfortunately, clicking on the PowerDesk-HF icon on the window-spanned Taskbar didn’t actually get us back to a place where we could see the monitor again. This led us to an odd game of blindly trying to drag the window from the screen that we couldn’t see, but it eventually worked. So let our experience guide you: pay careful attention to those prompts when setting up your multi-monitor desktop.
The card’s flexibility means that it’s not hard to set up an NTSC monitor to see what you’re editing on a real TV screen. You can attach said monitor via composite, S-Video or component video connections. If you’ve invested in DVI displays, you’ll be happy to know that you can plug in two at a time. Even better, if you’re thinking of future HDV applications, you can easily set up the card to output 1080p, 1080i or 720p HD.
Double Your Fun
Anyone looking for multi-monitor computing for editing (or any other task) should check out this card. Its flexibility and great performance will impress. At $349, it’s certainly a bit more expensive than other multi-head video cards, but most of them are not nearly as flexible as this one.
RAM: 128MB, DDR
Video Out Configurations: VGA/DVI + VGA/DVI/NTSC/ATSC
VGA + VGA/DVI + NTSC
DVI + DVI + NTSC
VGA + VGA/DVI + ATSC
VGA + VGA/DVI + VGA/DVI
Operating System: Windows 2000, XP
Bus: PCI Express 16-lane
Power Supply: 300W
Supported Software for WYSIWYG: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop; Discreet combustion 3, 3ds max; NewTek LightWave 3
- Gorgeous video
- Extremely versatile, with S-Video, Composite,
Component, DVI and VGA outputs
- Complex drivers
A very versatile and flexible high-performance video card.
Charles Fulton is Videomaker’s Associate Editor.