Wonder card gives video-editing options for reasonable...

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October 01, 2001|By Michael James

Wonder card gives video-editing options for reasonable price

Whether you're looking for a digital video editing solution, a way to add the "FireWire" standard to your PC, or both, the ATI DV Wonder card is a bargain at $49.

It's no small wonder that ATI came up with a well-integrated video editing tool and FireWire card. The Canadian company is noted for its multi-function video boards, including the "All-In-Wonder" series. The DV Wonder, while not quite as versatile, is similar in its capabilities and ease of use.

The DV Wonder pops easily into an open PCI slot in your computer and gives you three ports for an IEEE 1394 connection, called FireWire by Apple and iLink by Sony.

Simply put, FireWire is one of the fastest peripheral standards ever developed. Transferring data at up to 400 Mbps, FireWire delivers more than 30 times the speed of USB, making it ideal for digital audio and video devices, as well as external hard drives and other high-speed devices.

Digital camcorders and digital scanners are among the most demanding of a computer's resources because of the large amounts of data that have to travel to your motherboard. USB has been "digitally challenged" by such huge in-flows of data, and that's where FireWire comes in. The DV Wonder provides a much larger information portal, and you'll experience it when you transfer video files to your hard drive.

Installation is fast and easy with the included software, although the requirements on your computer are high - you'll need a Pentium III or better to really be able to take advantage of DV Wonder's transfer speed. You'll also need a minimum of 300 MB of space for the system installation alone, as well as about four gigabytes of space for every 20 minutes of digital video you plan to edit. In other words, you need a monster hard drive if you want to play with a lot of video.

But if you meet those requirements, you won't be disappointed. Your digital camcorder plugs into one of the three FireWire ports on the card (a digital cable is included).

Then you'll be off and running with the included video editing software, which allows you to craft movie clips from home video, and to transfer them back to your DV camcorder or to a CD-R.

Frankly, there were so many options available on the software for editing that I found it confusing to try them all - or figure out their usefulness, for that matter. But the basics work very well, and most important, very fast.

Information: 905-882-2600 or www.ati.com.

Toshiba PCX1100U delivers fast Net access

The age of broadband Internet access (for the uninitiated, that means high-speed Web surfing) is arriving fast, and a cable modem is the gateway into a new era. But up until now most cable Internet users have been renting proprietary modems from their cable providers, paying between $7 and $15 a month.

That's changing with the availability of new products like Toshiba's PCX1100U cable modem, which takes advantage of a relatively new data delivery standard called DOCSIS. That stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, which liberates the consumer from having to depend on leased cable modems.

Of course, you have to buy the cable modem you want to use, and hook it up yourself - an intimidating process since even expert computer users are often fearful of playing around with complicated network settings. But Toshiba offers some excellent shortcuts for ease of use, not the least of which is a USB connector on the modem.

By using USB, you won't have to put a network interface card into your computer. In fact, you won't even have to open the case - a nice little luxury. Plug in the modem to your USB port, and follow the instructions on the installation CD.

If you already have cable Internet access running in your house, you won't have to change any network settings - just unplug your leased cable modem and swap it with the Toshiba. If you're using Comcast's high-speed Internet service, you'll likely have to make a call to Comcast to get them to configure your new modem properly on their system.

For those of you who prefer to keep using an ethernet connection, the PCX1100U has an RJ45 jack as well. I tried out both the USB and the ethernet jacks and didn't have any trouble with either one.

An added plus of having two connection ports on the same cable modem is that you can plug a second computer into your high-speed service (you'll need a second IP address from your cable company to do this, however, which costs about $7 a month).

The PCX1100U retails for $200, although you can find some cheaper prices on the Web if you shop around. Toshiba also tosses in Norton Internet Security 2001 Family Edition, an $80 program, that is part of the modem bundle.

Information: 800-867-4422 or www.toshiba.com.

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