Sharp’s new Camera Combines Digital Stills and Video

This month:

Jack of Two

Sharp VL-DX10U DV Camcorder/Still Video Camera


Sharp Electronics

Sharp Plaza

Mahwah, NJ 07656

tech specs

Can’t decide whether to purchase a digital still camera or a DV camcorder?
Like Canon with its Optura model, Sharp would like to end your deliberation
with its new VL-DX10U, a compact unit that’s both a DV camcorder and a RAM-based
digital still recorder. The VL-DX10U looks much like a normal Sharp ViewCam,
with its 3-inch active matrix LCD viewfinder and vertical handgrip. Only
when you spot the VIDEO/STILL IMAGE switch does it become clear that the
VL-DX10U is more than a mere DV camcorder.

In addition to recording video on standard mini-DV videotapes, the VL-DX10U
stores 720×480-pixel still images into non-volatile flash RAM. You can select
from three different JPEG compression settings; the VL-DX10U will store
12 images in FINE mode, 24 in STANDARD mode and 48 in ECONOMY mode. You
can mix-and-match quality settings if desired. Once in RAM, you can dump
still images onto DV tape, grab frames off tape as still images and even
offload the stills into your computer. The optura captures images in the
same size, 720×480-pixel, but then saves them directly to tape, saving over
500 images on a 60 minute tape in SP mode. Unlike the VL-DX10U, the Optura
records the still images in the DV format. Once an image is downloaded into
a computer, with the appropriate software, it can be saved in any of the
many graphic formats.

The Physical

Unlike most ViewCams, the VL-DX10U’s handgrip doesn’t swivel. Since the
lens and screen are mounted to the same chassis, tilting the lens would
make it impossible to see the screen. Instead, the handgrip slides straight
down about an inch. Even in this position, I found the handgrip, strap and
control layout to be uncomfortable. Folks with smaller hands may fare better.

The VL-DX10U uses a single 1/4-inch, 410,000-pixel CCD. The minuscule lens
(about the diameter of a penny) offers a 10x optical zoom range, with digital
magnification to 25x. The zoom rocker is easy to operate with your right
thumb, giving you good control of the four zoom speeds. Both digital image
stabilization (DIS) and digital zoom affect image sharpness, the latter
in ever-increasing amounts. A removable clear lens cover protects the lens
from damage and dirt while shooting. Nice touch.

Near the lens is a stereo condenser microphone; the back panel offers a
plug-in power mike jack for external condenser microphones and a headphone
jack. The back panel also sports a small speaker that puts out surprisingly
loud, clear sound. In playback mode, the zoom rocker doubles as a volume
control. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the volume of the headphone output
while shooting.

In an effort to keep the VL-DX10U small and light, there are no standard
video, audio or digital outputs on the camcorder. Instead, you attach one
of two different output modules to the side of the unit. One offers stereo
audio, composite video and S-video outputs; the other has a digital output
jack for transferring still images to a computer. The VL-DX10U has no FireWire
input or output, nor will it record from an external analog source.

The VL-DX10U doesn’t speak FireWire, but it does speak infrared. When placed
within a few feet of a compatible Infrared Data Association (IrDA) recorder
or computer receiver, it will send and receive still image data. The VL-DX10U
also boasts a nice IR remote with extensive video and still image controls.

The VL-DX10U doesn’t have a wealth of knobs and buttons, meaning the user
must perform most functions from an on-screen menu. To the upper-left side
of the viewfinder is a MENU button, which pages through the various menus
pertaining to the VL-DX10U’s mode. Most menu choices appear atop the video
at the four edges of the viewfinder; you choose the item you want with a
four-way rocker switch that falls under the left thumb. In some operating
modes, menus fill the whole viewfinder. The only tricky thing about operating
the VL-DX10U menu is remembering which of the four modes (play or record,
still or video) you should use to perform desired functions.

If It Moves, Shoot It

The VL-DX10U isn’t exactly a feature-packed camcorder, but its video
controls cover most of the basics. Autofocus is the default mode, though
one menu gives you push-button manual focus control. There is no manual
iris control or high-speed shutter, and white balance is either continuous
auto or preset in any of its four scene modes.

In "sports" mode, for example, shutter speed jumps to 1/500th
of a second and white balance is automatically set for outdoor shooting.
"Twilight" mode sets white balance for late evening or early morning
sunlight. This is a somewhat unorthodox approach to setting white balance
and shutter speed–Sharp clearly valued simplicity of operation over the
flexibility of manual controls.

Notably lacking is any sort of fade or picture effects. The VL-DX10U’s only
remarkable trick in video mode is its ability to lay a still to tape as
a "title" when you begin recording. This is minimalist shooting
at its finest–VL-DX10U users have little more than start, stop and zoom
at their command.

It’s an exceptional tool for macro shooting, thanks to its high lens position–you
can get the VL-DX10U’s lens within about half an inch of a subject without
casting a shadow.

Be Still

Flipped into still image mode, the unit functions like a traditional digital
still camera. Image quality is fair in standard mode and only slightly better
in fine mode. JPEG artifacts–image softness and blotchiness–are unmistakably
present in economy mode, making still image mode virtually unusable. The
VL-DX10U has no built-in flash or flash mount for still image shooting.

The still image mode uses an on-screen control system similar to the video
mode control system. It allows you to navigate through a grid of 16 thumbnail
size images of existing stills, choose which stills to display, delete,
copy to tape or transfer over the infrared link.

The VL-DX10U comes with PixLab and EasyPhoto image transfer/editing software
for Windows and Macintosh systems. The TWAIN acquisition software works
like a charm, giving you a thumbnail catalog of still images when you connect
the unit to a computer with the supplied serial cable.


As a camcorder, the VL-DX10U leaves a few things to be desired such as manual
iris, white balance and shutter speed, effects, fade, FireWire connection
and battery gauge. These missing features might sting less if the Sharp
turned in above-average image quality, but it doesn’t.

Video shot with the VL-DX10U looks a bit flat and soft regardless of lighting
conditions, and noise jumps quickly as light levels decrease. The VL-DX10U
falls short of DV format potential, producing video that looks more like
that of a mid-line Hi8 or S-VHS camcorder. As the ears hear it, the microphone
records crisp, intelligible sound. However, it also picks up lots of buzzes
and clicks from nearby motors and buttons.

The VL-DX10U’s performance as a still image gatherer is better. It captures
good-quality stills, and gives you plenty of control of the images once
you store them. Ironically, its best still JPEGs aren’t as crisp as a normal
freeze-frame in a DV camcorder. This means that anyone with a DV camcorder
and an inexpensive computer capture card (even one with analog inputs) can
grab stills of higher image quality.

A double-duty DV video/still video camera is a neat concept; one Sharp didn’t
exactly nail with the VL-DX10U. Folks in the market for a one-box image
gatherer may want to hold out for the inevitable second-generation products.

Playing God

Bryce 3D Software




6303 Carpinteria, CA 93013

tech specs

As a videographer, you’re familiar with the joy of creation. You probably
create stories, characters, situations or locations all the time. But how
would you like to create whole worlds? With Bryce 3D, you can. This
software gives you the power to create any landscape or locale your mind
can conceive, whether on this planet or some other.

Bryce 3D shares some characteristics with "normal" 3D programs,
including the ability to create complex objects from simple shapes, wrap
objects in textures, place light sources and position your camera for the
final render. Bryce 3D differentiates itself from all other breeds in its
comprehensive control over terrain, natural textures, skies and realistic
lighting effects. When you get your world looking the way you want it, Bryce
3D allows you to animate virtually any aspect of the scene.

An Interesting Interface

Bryce 3D’s interface may be unlike any you’ve ever seen. Instead of endless
text menus and boring buttons, Bryce 3D’s interface consists almost entirely
of small 3D objects and pictures which represent functions. Want to place
a terrain in your scene? Click on the three-dimensional mountain in the
main "Create" palette. To add a shape, click on the shape. Even
editing functions like resize, rotate and align use 3D objects. Submenus
are highly graphical as well, using eye-pleasing graphical elements instead
of text. Most importantly, Bryce 3D’s visual approach works. Once you get
a feel for the interface, its simplicity and elegance is a real treat.

What the package’s simplicity and elegance hide, at least at first glance,
is its almost overwhelming creative power. Bryce 3D hands you control of
the smallest, most nit-picky elements of a scene. Don’t like the texture
of a rock? Change it. Wish those slow-moving clouds were a little higher,
a little wispier, a little more ruddy? No problem. This depth of control
makes Bryce 3D the amazing software it is.

Main controls include a sky and fog palette that allows you to adjust sun
(or moon) position, ambient light, fog intensity and color, haze and cloud
type, position, color and movement. Bryce 3D can even add stars, comets
and realistic rainbows. A materials lab and deep texture editor allow you
to create or edit virtually any type of surface or volume. Bryce 3D’s ingenious
terrain editor works somewhat like a paint package, converting pixel color
to elevation. Creating even the most intricate-looking relief map is quick
and easy.

Finally, Bryce 3D will create infinite slabs filled with any type of material
(water, for example). This allows you to sink the camera beneath the surface
of a body of water for realistic underwater images.

The Fourth Dimension

Bryce 3D’s ability to make photo-realistic still images is impressive; the
ability to animate your creation is the real jaw-dropper. The package’s
animation system uses keyframes, between which it smoothly interpolates
object motion or properties. You can animate camera position, sun position,
lighting effects, clouds, terrain (erosion, for example) and water. Advanced
motion path controls make it simple to create realistic movement, and time
mapping curves aid in inertia effects.

Bryce 3D’s rendering engine is based on ray tracing which tracks the paths
of millions of individual lightwaves as they bounce through a scene. This
gives images a photo-realistic look, with accurate reflections, highlights
and transparencies. However, ray tracing isn’t the quickest way to build
an image–complex scenes can take a long time to render in Bryce 3D. Bryce
3D offers two levels of anti-aliasing as well, which slows down the process
if enabled. Multiply rendering time by the number of frames in your animation,
and a completed movie can take hours to render. This is not unique to Bryce
3D–complex rendering takes a long time in any 3D package.

Print to Tape

Uses for Bryce 3D in video or multimedia are numerous. Whip up a cockpit-view
animation of a spaceship landing, and key it into a viewport behind live
actors. Create photo-realistic still images and key actors in front. Use
Bryce 3D landscapes for title backgrounds. Animate the mysterious sightings
of a remote-controlled deep-sea submersible. Send a space probe to another

Bryce 3D probably won’t replace a standard 3D modeler and renderer for most
video-related animation chores. Bryce 3D doesn’t offer extrusions, lathe
effects, inverse-kinematics for realistic "organic" motion, complex
object linking and the like. Though you can import 3D text from another
package, Bryce 3D doesn’t generate it natively–this isn’t the package for
flying logos and flashy titles. And Bryce does not support any aftermarket
MJPEG rendering hardware. But, Bryce does create full screen (640×480-pixels),
30 frames-per-second AVI files with Windows and Quicktime files using a
Mac. Under Windows Bryce will render individual frames to the hard-drive
as BMP, TIFF, and PSD and with a Mac it will render individual frames as

What Bryce 3D does do–create and animate intricate new worlds–it
does extremely well. This is a revolutionary, powerful product with an innovative
user interface.

You owe it to yourself to try Bryce 3D.

For Work or Play

Mitsubishi HS-U680 VHS VCR


Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.

6100 Atlantic Boulevard

Norcross, GA 30071

tech specs

For many videographers, the humble VHS VCR does double duty. By day it may
be dubbing off copies of the latest masterpiece; by night, it’s back at
work as the centerpiece of the home entertainment center. Finding a machine
that handles work and play equally well can be a challenge. For those in
need of such a VCR, Mitsubishi offers the HS-U680.

At work, the HS-U680 provides a four-head transport with flying erase head,
hi-fi record/playback, jog-shuttle control and edit jack for interfacing
with other Mitsubishi VCRs. The HS-U680 also boasts audio and video dubbing,
real-time counter, index search and Mitsubishi’s PerfecTape record optimization

Shuttling tape is a big part of the video-making process, and the HS-U680
offers fast, predictable control over tape movement. Both jog/shuttle controls
(one on the VCR and one on the remote) work very well, allowing you to precisely
locate scenes or edit points. Ultra-fast 250x fast-forward and rewind modes
move tape through the VCR in a hurry. In all modes, the Mitsubishi transport
seems smooth and solid.

Though not an edit VCR per se, the HS-U680 does have an RCA-style
edit control jack. Plug this into a compatible Mitsubishi VCR, and you can
toggle record/pause and play/pause from a single unit. If you have the HS-U680
working as the source deck, it will preroll a few seconds before the edit
for the cleanest possible transfer.

Another thoughtful touch for "working" VCR owners is the HS-U680’s
dual outputs. The back panel has two composite video outputs, as well as
two stereo audio outputs. The ability to route the deck’s output in two
different directions without re-patching is a real plus. One minor drawback
is the HS-U680’s lack of manual audio input level controls–auto record
level is all you get.

Mitsubishi’s PerfecTape system records a brief test tone signal onto a tape
to check its low-, mid- and high-frequency response. At the end of the test,
the VCR displays the results with three bars, and rates the tape from "POOR"
to "EXCELLENT". The PerfecTape circuitry then optimizes the record
electronics for that particular tape formulation. Though the improvements
are subtle, it’s nice to know you’re getting the best-possible recordings.


At play, the Mitsubishi is equally well decked-out with convenient features.
It offers VCR Plus+ Gold programming, a full-featured remote control, commercial
skip when playing back time-shifted programs and a unique movie skip function.
Movie skip scans past all those ads and trailers that sit at the beginning
of a rental movie, starting playback where the movie actually begins. I’m
not sure exactly how it works, but the feature scanned past seven
minutes of preamble to start right at the beginning of "Conspiracy
Theory." Very impressive.

The HS-U680 will also control a cable box, DSS or Primestar receiver with
direct cable or optional infrared emitter. If you have other Mitsubishi
equipment in your system, the HS-U680 will integrate with it through its
Active AV Network terminal.

Like many VCRs today, the HS-U680 has few controls on its face. Users access
most functions with the remote, moving through a series of multi-level menus.
The menu system is well thought-out and easy to navigate, something you
can’t say about most VCRs. These menus allow you to enter VCR Plus+ codes,
add or delete channels, set the clock, configure your cable box or satellite
receiver. An easy, automatic "set all" function makes setting
up the HS-U680 a breeze. If you do get stuck, Mitsubishi’s large user’s
manual is extremely well written.

Double Duty

The Mitsubishi HS-U680 is an excellent deck for both editing/dubbing applications
and normal home entertainment use. It offers very good image and sound quality,
attractive cosmetics and large, bright fluorescent display. The HS-U680
I tested even had an undocumented bonus: though the manual makes no mention
of it, the deck offered quasi-S-VHS playback with excellent picture quality.

Folks in need of a VHS deck for work or play should check out the Mitsubishi

Little Movies

Video Sphinx Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer


FutureTel, Inc.

1092 E. Arques Avenue

Sunnyvale, CA 94086

tech specs

Video–it ain’t just for tape anymore. Today, moving images appear in all
sorts of "tapeless" media: CD-ROMs, Web pages and even email messages.
Unlike productions distributed on videotape, the goal in these cases is
not maximum image quality–it’s small files. The more you can compress your
video file, the faster it will download off the Web, or load off a CD-ROM

The MPEG-1 (Motion Pictures Expert Group) codec is still one of the best
solutions for turning massive video files into little movies. Because MPEG
discards information that stays constant between frames, it can crush video
files and still maintain decent image quality. Products like the FutureTel
Video Sphinx Pro digitize and compress MPEG movies in real time, giving
you files that require as little space as seven megabytes per minute.

Video Sphinx Pro compresses video at several different resolutions up to
352 by 240 pixels, with data rates ranging from 25kB to just under 400kB
per second. This makes it obvious that this package was never meant to be
a serious video production tool. In fact, the Video Sphinx Pro has no capabilities
for outputting an edited movie back to tape. This product is best suited
to the creation of compact video files meant for digital distribution.

The Package

The Video Sphinx Pro package consists of a hardware interface, connector
cables and three software applications. The FutureTel hardware connects
to your computer’s printer port, either directly or by a short extension
cable (supplied). Jacks include S-video in, composite video in/out, stereo
audio in/out and DC power adapter input. The video and audio output jacks
are pass-through connections for monitoring only. The Video Sphinx Pro doesn’t
convert between the S-video input and composite output, so you can’t use
an external monitor with the S-video input.

Audio connections are on mini-stereo jacks; the supplied cables convert
these to standard RCA-style connectors. The inclusion of audio inputs is
a nice touch, and Video Sphinx Pro will digitize and embed stereo audio
at several quality levels up to 48kHz sampling rate.

Software includes the dedicated Video Sphinx Pro capture/edit application,
as well as Kai’s Photo Soap and Macromedia Backstage. Installation of the
software is simple; configuring the computer to communicate with the hardware
takes a bit more effort. The Video Sphinx Pro requires that your computer’s
parallel port operate in ECP (extended capabilities port) mode. ECP mode
also gobbles up an additional DMA channel, which may cause conflicts if
your system is already maxed-out. Once installed and configured, a test
program verifies that the system is functioning properly.

The Video Sphinx Pro software includes five modules: MPEG clip capture and
trim, still image capture, multimedia show assembly, Clip Glue (editing)
and an image/sound album. You’ll spend most of your time using the capture/trim
section of the software, which digitizes your clips relatively easily. Picture
quality controls include hue, brightness, saturation and contrast. These
controls don’t affect the computer display or video passthrough, however–there’s
no way to see their effects until you play back the digitized clip.

Placing video clips into the album makes it easy to get to them from the
Clip Glue section of the software. Here, you butt MPEG clips together on
a storyboard-style timeline. Editing functions are rudimentary–you can’t
adjust the length of clips or add transitions between them. A single audio
track allows you to place an audio clip next to your MPEG clips, which then
overrides the clips’ embedded audio. There are no audio controls (volume
or fade, for example) tied to the editing timeline.

The software’s Media Show section allows you to string together MPEG, MOV
or AVI movies, still images and audio files for a simple slideshow-style
production. The software assembles them in serial fashion, with a blank
image for the audio clips and silence for the still images.

The Video Sphinx Pro’s still image capture module allows you to grab high-resolution
images (1600×1200 pixels) from the video source, saving them in any of several
different formats. The still capture software gives you little control over
which frame you’ll get, as it automatically strobes through to a
new frozen image every second or so. Resolution, color accuracy and noise
level of stills are quite good, but images show some definite artifacts
in areas of motion.

The Verdict

Put simply, Video Sphinx Pro is an affordable way to capture and digitize
medium-resolution MPEG videos for CD-ROM, multimedia, Web design and video
email. Don’t think of this package as a solution for editing those
videos–its software lacks audio control, video effects, transitions and
text or titling capabilities. For MPEG editing, you’ll want to supplement
Video Sphinx Pro with some more advanced software.

Ten Copies at Once

SD-3 Duplication Station


Elite Video

321 Ouachita Ave.

Hot Springs, AR 71901

(501) 321-0440

tech specs

What’s a videographer to do when everyone wants a copy of his or her latest
video project? Worse yet, what if you’re a wedding videographer, and everyone
from the parents of the bride to the fifth cousin of the groom wants his
own copy of the wedding video? In situations like these, you can either
set aside a few workdays to make the copies one at a time, or you can use
a device like Elite Video’s SD-3 duplication station and finish the job
in a few hours.

In essence, the Elite Video SD-3 is a distribution amplifier. What’s a distribution
amplifier? It’s a device that streamlines the task of making multiple copies
of a video or audio tape. The amplifier portion of its name comes from the
fact that whenever you split a single video and/or audio signal into multiple
outputs, it’s necessary to boost (amplify) each individual output to a level
that your recording equipment can process without difficulty.

In practice, the SD-3 turns out to be much more than just a distribution
amplifier. It incorporates a number of features that were developed in other
Elite Video products (the BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor, especially).
Owing primarily to Elite Video’s prior experience in the video enhancer/proc
amp market, the SD-3 incorporates features like a robust 72dB video signal-to-noise
ratio and RTX resolution enhancement.

On the Box

Along the front of the SD-3’s rugged metal frame is a series of switches,
which are described here in order from left to right.

The RTX Resolution Enhancer’s purpose, as stated in the product documentation,
is to massage the video signal as it passes through the SD-3 in such a way
as to make copies come out with greater resolution than the original. If
this sounds fishy to you, then give yourself a pat on the back, because
it’s theoretically impossible to increase the resolution of a video signal
once it’s recorded onto tape. Even so, the RTX Resolution Enhancer does
serve to increase the apparent clarity of some types of video images by
pulling the resolution already present in the signal out of the electronic
noise that threatens to swamp it. We don’t recommend using it for every
project you’re copying, but if you keep a sharp eye on what it’s doing to
your signal, it can produce some impressive results – especially with footage
shot on a poor-quality VHS or 8mm camcorder.

Next is the Long Lines Compensator (LLC), which simply boosts the output
of the signal by a few percentage points in order to make up for long cable
throws (12 feet or more). Like all of the other features on the SD-3, the
LLC control is best left switched off unless you really need it, because
it significantly increases the amount of noise present in the signal.

The Black Burst switch has two functions. The most common use is to lay
down a black signal on as many as ten tapes at once in order to prepare
them for duplication. The second use is listed in the manual as the ability
to "provide a black burst signal for your entire video system with
no looping." This is something of a joke, as any video system that
required a black burst signal to synchronize a number of cameras and/or
decks would probably exist only in a market several rungs above that of
the SD-3.

The last two switches on the SD-3 are provided as a way to alert you with
an audible alarm if your copying system encounters problems. One switch
enables the alarm, and the other determines which condition must be met
before the alarm is tripped – either loss of sync (no signal) or uniform field
sync (representing the blue screen that many VCRs display when a tape is
finished playing).

Inputs on the SD-3 include one RCA-style composite video connector, one
S-video connector and a set of standard stereo audio connectors. Outputs
include ten sets of composite video and stereo audio connectors, but curiously,
the S-video connections were omitted on the output side. This is perhaps
the SD-3’s biggest drawback. There might be some benefit to using an S-video
input to help with the SD-3’s resolution enhancement, but when it comes
time to make straight, unenhanced copies, the lack of S-video connections
on the output side all but defeats the purpose of including one on the input

In Use

Copies made by the SD-3 come out looking crisp and clean, with audio and
video intact. The location of all controls is convenient, and the placement
of inputs and outputs is logical and easily accessible. For those who need
even more outputs for more copies at a time, the SD-3 includes a Super Link
Configuration option, which allows you to hook as many as ten SD-3 Duplication
Stations together without significantly degrading the quality of the output.

In general, we found the SD-3 Duplication Station to be an excellent product,
keeping Elite Video’s track record for quality merchandise. The lack of
S-video outputs is a serious concern, but still, the quality of the copies
it makes is easily good enough for the prosumer marketplace.

Contributing editor Loren Alldrin is a freelance video and music producer.

Tech Specs

VL-DX10U Mini-DV Camcorder

Format: DV

Lens: 10:1 optical zoom (4.5-45mm), 25:1 digital zoom, four-speed power
zoom, f/1.8, inner focus

Image sensor: 1/4-inch, 410,000 pixels

Viewfinder: 3-inch LCD

Focus: auto, push-button manual

Maximum shutter speed: 1/500

Exposure: auto, three scene modes

White balance: continuous auto, three scene mode presets

Digital effects: none

Audio: digital stereo

Inputs: stereo microphone

Outputs: S-video, composite video, stereo audio, stereo headphone, computer

Still image memory: 2MB flash RAM

Still image capacity: 12 (fine), 24 (standard), 48 (economy)

Other features: Mac/Windows software for image download, TWAIN driver, infrared
remote, IrDA emitter/receiver, sun shield, built-in speaker

Dimensions: 6.5 (width) x 3.6 (height) x 2.3 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery): 1.4 pounds

Video Performance (approx.)

Horizontal resolution (camera): 380

Horizontal resolution (playback): 380

Performance Times

Pause to record: 1 second

Power-up to record: 11 seconds

Fast-forward/rewind (30 min. tape): 45 seconds


  • a camcorder and camera in one
  • serial computer interface


  • ho-hum video performance
  • loud motor and button noises


A great idea hampered by ho-hum video performance and a high price tag.

MetaCreations Bryce
3D Software

Platform: PC or Macintosh

Rendering engine: ray tracing

Animation engine: keyframe

Import compatibility: DXF, 3DMF, OBJ

Export compatibility: Photoshop 3, TIFF, Pict, BMP, Quicktime, AVI

Minimum System Requirements (PC)

Processor: Pentium class

System: Windows 95/NT


Video: 16- or 24-bit color

Minimum System Requirements (Macintosh)

Processor: Power PC

System: 7.1 or greater


Video: 16- or 24-bit color


  • Virtually unlimited creative control
  • Unique, innovative interface


  • No native text support


An exceptional package for rendering realistic landscapes of your own design.

FutureTel Video Sphinx
Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer


Inputs: S-video, composite video, stereo audio

Outputs: composite video, stereo audio (all passthrough only)

Platform: Windows PC

Digitizing resolutions (NTSC): 352×240, 320×240, 176×112, 160×112

Audio: 16-bit at 32kHz, 44.1kHz or 48kHz sampling rate

Still image capture: 1600×1200 pixels max

Minimum System Requirements

Processor: Pentium 100MHz

System: Windows 95


Video: 16- or 24-bit color

Interface: ECP parallel port


  • low cost
  • audio inputs


  • extremely limited editing functions


A low-cost solution better suited to digitizing MPEG-1 video than editing

Mitsubishi HS-U680

Format: VHS

Video heads: four (plus flying erase head)

Video inputs: composite video (x2)

Video outputs: composite video (x2)

Audio inputs: stereo audio (x2)

Audio outputs: stereo audio (x2)

Edit control: Mitsubishi RCA edit terminal

Other features: front-panel A/V inputs, jog/shuttle on VCR and remote, audio/video
dub, quasi-S-VHS playback, PerfecTape record optimization, on-screen menu
system, DSS or Primestar control, cable box control, commercial skip, movie
advance, high-speed FF/REW, VCR Plus+ Gold support, auto clock set

Dimensions: 17 (width) by 4 height by 12 (depth) inches

Weight: 12 pounds


  • good image quality
  • smooth, solid transport
  • front-panel A/V inputs, dual outputs


  • no manual audio record levels


A fine VHS VCR for work or play.

Elite Video SD-3
Duplication Station


S-video, composite video, stereo audio


Composite video, stereo audio (x10)

Video signal-to-noise ratio


Audio signal-to-noise ratio



RTX Resolution Enhancement, Long Lines Compensation, Black Burst Generator,
Loss of Sync Alarm, Super Link Configuration


  • Robust S/N ratio
  • Easy to expand outputs using Super Link Configuration


  • No S-video output


A good low-cost distribution amplifier with some ex

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