The year 2000 was an exciting year in the world of video. Some hot products passed through our doors in the last 12 months. Those listed here are the best of what we saw this year.
We noted some trends as we examined the year’s offerings. In the past year we saw quality increase and prices drop in almost every product category, making solutions for independent video producers and hobbyists more affordable and of a higher quality than ever before. Thanks to products like those listed here, the line between professional and hobbyist continues to blur. In fact, with a digital camcorder and a FireWire computer with basic editing software, a talented videographer can literally produce a broadcast television program in an extra bedroom.
We added a few new categories to our "best of" line-up for 2000. With the proliferation of digital video came a proliferation of digital video distribution methods. Because streaming video on the Internet and burning it to DVD have become so popular, we’ve added categories for Best Streaming Software and Best CD/DVD Authoring Software to this year’s list.
As in past years, we’ve selected our favorite camcorders, editing VCR, editing software, computer-based turnkey editing solutions and selected a Most Innovative product of the year.
Our editors have seen a lot of what the manufacturers had to offer in 2000. The products recognized here were our favorites.
|Best 3-CCD Mini DV Camcorder|
When Sony released the DCR-VX1000 back in 1995, videographers raved about the camera’s iLink input/output, 3-chip sharpness and clarity, independent audio level controls, and a host of other features normally found only on professional cameras. Now, almost six years later, Sony offers a slimmer, more compact model that fixes some of the VX-1000’s earlier problems while adding line-in recording, selectable audio qualities, a flip-out 2.5-inch monitor and a host of other new and exciting features. Kudos to Sony for making an already outstanding product even better!
$3,000 www.sel.sony.com (800) 222-SONY
|Best DIGITAL8 Camcorder|
The exciting new Digital8 format offers digital quality and functionality at a fraction of the cost of most DV camcorders. This year’s award for the best Digital8 camcorder goes to Sony’s DCR-TRV820, an innovative camera with a built-in color printer for printing still images, a manual iris control, 4-inch LCD monitor, headphone jack and microphone input.
$1,299 www.sel.sony.com (800) 222-SONY
|Best EDITING LAPTOP|
Gateway Solo 9300 with MGI Video Wave III
An exciting new category that has cropped up in recent years is the Editing Laptop category, which includes any laptop computer that gives you the power to edit video almost anywhere at anytime. This year’s winner is the Gateway Solo 9300, a Pentium III 750 with FireWire input/output and MGI VideoWave editing software. Products like this point the way to the future of easy, portable editing.
$3,299 www.gateway.com (800) 846-4208
|Best 8mm Camcorder|
Though the 8mm camcorder category may seem all but dead these days due to the small amount of media coverage it receives, low-budget videographers know that it’s a format that’s alive and well and providing lots of high quality video for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money. Hitachi’s VME565LA is this year’s winner in the 8mm camcorder category, boasting a low list price, 1/4000 max shutter speed and 22:1 optical zoom in an attractive, stylish package.
$499 www.hitachi.com (800) HITACHI
|Best VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE OVER $100|
Sonic Foundry Vegas Video
Sonic Foundry’s Vegas Video editing software is this year’s winner of the best video editing software category. Offering a simple solution that will please both video beginners and professional broadcasters, Vegas Video offers unlimited video and audio tracks, sample accurate audio editing, unlimited undo/redo, DV capture and print-to-tape tools, 32 effects and a multitude of other features in a well-rounded package.
$699 ($629 download) www.sonicfoundry.com (608) 256-3133
|Best VHS-C CAMCORDER|
The continued popularity of the VHS-C format is a tribute to its ease of use and compatibility with home VHS VCRs. Panasonic’s PV-L850 is this year’s winner in the VHS-C category, featuring a microphone and headphone jack, 1/10,000 max shutter speed, 480,000-pixel CCD, 26:1 optical zoom and a whopping 4-inch LCD flip-out monitor.
$800 www.panasonic.com (800) 211-PANA
|Best VHS CAMCORDER|
Full-size VHS camcorders have not changed a lot in the past few years; nonetheless, the continued popularity of the format shows that consumers care about the ability to record directly onto VHS tape; some even tell us that they prefer the stability of the larger camera body. This year’s winner is the RCA CC4393, owing to its 3-inch color LCD viewfinder, microphone input, electronic image stabilization and 1/4000 max
$599 www.rca.com (800) 336-1900
|Best TURNKEY EDITING SYSTEM UNDER $3,000|
Apple G4 Cube with iMovie 2
With its space-age, head-turning design and blazing processing speed, Apple’s G4 Cube is more than just a fancy home computer: it’s a ready-made video editing workstation that sports FireWire input and iMovie 2 software for quick and easy editing. Not satisfied with iMovie 2’s capabilities? Just upgrade to Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere or any other Mac-based software you wish, and you’ve got a full-featured professional editing workstation in a fancy, see-through package with a tiny footprint.
$1,950 (price does not include monitor) www.applestore.com (800) 692-7753
|Best TURNKEY EDITING SYSTEM $3,000 – $6,000|
Core Microsystems DV-X2000
In the mid-range turnkey editing category, we find the Core Micro’s DV-X2000, a dual-800MHz Pentium III screamer that includes Adobe Premiere with real-time effects, Minerva DVD authoring, a full-blown software bundle and a wide range of inputs and outputs, including component, composite, S-video and FireWire.
$5,900 www.coremicro.com (800) 886-2752
|Best TURNKEY OVER $6,000|
Avid Xpress DV on IBM Intellistation
@product body text:Avid has long been the choice of professional editors and has paved the way of the timeline editing solution. Now pairing with IBM in the Avid Xpress DV on the IBM Intellistation, award-winning Avid software is available to a wider range of video enthusiasts. Bundled with Web streaming and DVD authoring tools this turnkey moves the user toward the ever-expanding world of video content delivery.
$6,909 www.ibm.com/pc/intellistation (888) 746-7426
|Best EDITING SOFTWARE UNDER $100|
MGI VideoWave 4
MGI’s VideoWave 4 takes the prize for this year’s best inexpensive editing software. The elegant graphical interface of MGI’s VideoWave has made it a favorite with home video editors who want a simple, intuitive way to edit their videos. VideoWave 4’s features include two video tracks, 52 transitions, 26 filters, EDL export and logging capabilities, as well as a built-in titler.
$99 www.mgisoft.com (888) 644-7638
|Best SINGLE CCD MINI DV CAMCORDER|
Canon Optura Pi
In the single-chip DV camcorder category, the winner is the Canon Optura Pi, a stylish, full-featured model that shoots sharp, crisp video. Sporting a 3.5-inch flip-out LCD monitor, optical image stabilization, 1/4000 max shutter speed and the ability to record high quality still images directly to tape, the Canon Optura Pi is everything you’d expect from a Canon camcorder at a reasonable price.
$1,799 www.canondv.com (800) 828-4040
Boris FX Red 2
Video Plug-in software is an important consideration for the video editor on the grow. Boris FX’s Red 2 is a very powerful and versatile product that complements many editing solutions and compositing programs. If you’ve never toyed around with Boris FX’s multiple-channel keying effects and motion controls, you owe it to yourself to give them a try.
$1,995 www.borisfx.com (888) 11-BORIS
|Best Hi8 CAMCORDER|
Like its 8mm sibling, the Hi8 format has not received a lot of press lately, due to the exciting developments on the digital camcorder front; nonetheless, models like the Sony TRV87, this year’s best Hi8 camcorder, illustrate that it’s possible to get plenty of bang for your buck out of a Hi8 camera. Features include a 470,000-pixel CCD, headphone and microphone jacks, 20:1 optical zoom and 1/4000 max shutter speed.
$699 www.sel.sony.com (800) 222-SONY
|Best EDITING VCR|
JVC HR-DVS1U Dual Deck
Editing VCRs have taken a back seat to full-featured digital nonlinear editing systems this year; nonetheless, a good solid editing deck is still a valuable and useful addition to any home editing suite. JVC’s HR-DVS1U dual-deck VCR bridges the gap between DV and S-VHS, offering an easy solution for making simple edits and S-VHS or regular VHS dubs of DV masters. With component output, batch editing capabilities, built-in transition effects and the overall quality you’d expect from JVC, the HR-DVS1U is a Y2k winner.
$2,000 www.JVC.com (800) 252-5722
|Best FULL-SCREEN FULL-MOTION CAPTURE CARD|
Pinnacle DC 2000
This year’s winner in the video capture card category is Pinnacle’s DC 2000, a slick, full-featured, dual-stream audio/video digitizer that boasts real-time effects, component YUV video inputs and outputs, 4:2:2 sampling and up to 25 megabits per second of processing power (per stream). Since its humble beginnings in the early 1990s, the DC family of video capture cards has really come a long way. Kudos to Pinnacle for making it happen with the DC 2000.
$2,999 www.pinnaclesys.com (800) 866-8300
|Best CD/DVD Authoring Software|
Sonic Solutions DVDit
An exciting development in the world of digital video editing is the ability to create DVD videos directly from a home computer. Providing one of the first industry-standard software solutions for CD/DVD creation, DVDit comes bundled with a number of turnkey DVD-creation workstations. Its combination of ease of use and powerful labor-saving tools make it a winner in our CD/DVD authoring software category.
$499 ($449 download) www.sonic.com (415) 893-8000
Videonics’ CommandPost video editing console adds the features of an old-school video switcher/edit controller to your computer-based editor, providing an analog interface for digital video editors. The CommandPost controls many of the industry’s most popular software solutions, including Adobe Premiere, Ulead MediaStudio Pro, Apple iMovie and Final Cut Pro and others.
$199 www.videonics.com (408) 866-8300
|Best STREAMING SOFTWARE|
Avid ePublisher USB
In the all-important and forward-looking Streaming Video Software category, the winner is Avid’s ePublisher software, which includes DVDit authoring software, a USB video capture device and a host of user-friendly features that make it easy to produce and edit your own streaming videos. With the ePublisher package, Avid has created the easiest, most affordable solution yet for creating your own videos for streaming on the World Wide Web.
$625 www.avid.com/products/epublisher (978) 640-6789
|Best External Capture Device|
AverMedia AverTV USB
External video capture devices offer an inexpensive, easy way to capture and edit home videos or create video for CD-ROM or streaming video production. AverTV’s USB video capture device plugs easily into any USB computer port and provides 640×480 stills, full-motion video capture and S-video, RCA and even RF inputs. Not intended for professional use, the AverTV USB is one of the cheapest ways to get into digital video.
$99 www.avermedia.com (408) 263-3828
|Most Innovative Product|
Sony MD Disc Camcorder
Straight out of the realms of science fiction comes Sony’s MD Disc Camcorder, a tiny camcorder that records video and audio directly onto a Sony MiniDisc. Using the MPEG-2 codec to squeeze video onto the tiny disc, the MD Disc Camcorder incorporates a flip-out LCD monitor and a built-in nonlinear editor, right in the camera. This little gem will even play back your audio MD Discs for you, making it a hands-down winner in the Most Innovative category.
$2,300 www.sel.sony.com (800) 222-SONY
|Best Buy of the Year|
Hitachi Digital8 VM-D865LA
Hitachi entered the Digital8 market with the VM-D865LA, a well-rounded camcorder that provided the cheapest way to get into FireWire-based shooting and editing. With 22:1 optical zoom, FireWire input/output, flip-out 3.5-inch LCD monitor and a microphone input, the VM-D865LA is an excellent way to turn Apple’s iMac or Sony’s VAIO computers into a complete shooting and editing solution.
$699 www.hitachi.com (800) HITACHI