OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray Burner: Rip/Burn Blu-rays on a Mac

It's pretty clear to me at this point that Apple has no plans of offering a Blu-ray drive built-in to the Mac. Sure I could be wrong, but they have made no mention of Blu-rays in quite a while. After all, they sell and rent movies on iTunes and in a way Blu-ray movies are competition to that download/streaming model. Although there aren't many options to watch a Blu-ray movie on a Mac, there are still some reasons why you might want a Blu-ray drive on a Mac. First off, having a Blu-ray burner means that you could burn your own Blu-ray movie and data discs. Blu-ray discs hold up to 25 GBs of data per disc. That's a lot when it comes to archiving and transferring lots of information. Also since just about every digital camcorder being produced today has the option of recording in HD, it gives you a way to make High Def home movie blu-ray discs. I just got a brand new 12 core Mac Pro and I started looking at Blu-ray options for it.


OWC Does both External and Internal Blu-ray Drives

I'm starting off with a Mercury Pro External Blu-ray Quad-interface Drive review unit. This drive can connect via Firewire 800, 400, USB 2 and eSATA.

That pretty much covers all the connectivity options that I would care about.  The drive was very simple to setup. Take it out of the box, plug in the power and an interface cable and turn it on. That's it! Although the Mac OS doesn't provide the necessary support to play a Blu-ray movie, it does provide the necessary support to see the drive as a standard storage device for both reading discs and burning them. I popped in my copy of Avatar on Blu-ray and it showed up on the Desktop like any other disc. 


Ripping Blu-rays


The next question many will have is what does it take to rip a Blu-ray disc? First off, you need to read up on copyright and know that I'm not a lawyer and nor am I'm sanctioning violation of any copyright laws. However, as far as I can tell (my interpretation) you are within your right to "backup" a movie disc that you PURCHASED (not rented) for your OWN PERSONAL USE.  With that said, I wanted the option of Ripping a Blu-ray disc to take with me on the go or to watch via Apple TV if I choose to. Avatar is a perfect example! While this movie is available on iTunes and even includes a Digital Copy with the Blu-ray disc, both the iTunes version and Digital Copy are NOT high def. If I want to watch this movie via high definition without having to load the disc, the only way to do so is to Rip it. In the past I've used Handbrake to rip my entire DVD collection. Handbrake doesn't yet Rip Blu-ray movies, so I had to find another solution. The first application I came across is a commercial one called Pavtube Blu-Ray Ripper. There may be free ones or even better ones out there, but this one seems to do everything I want and has an interface that I like. 

It's easy. Just put your Blu-ray disc in the drive and fire up Pavtube. Choose the Blu-ray disc using the BD/DVD Folder button and then choose your output destination and preset. All the usual suspects are there including iPhone/iPod, Apple TV HD and even iPad HD. Yep, Android is there too along with several other presets.

Then you just click the Convert button and be prepared to wait! Ripping a Blu-ray is no trivial task in terms of system resources. Even on my 12 core Mac, the 2 hour 42 minute movie is going to take over 3 hours to rip in Apple TV H.264 1280×720 resolution. Also the estimated file size for this movie is going to be a 4.66GB .MP4 file. Of course depending on the length of the movie, the preset you choose and the speed of your system, your mileage will vary. 

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Samsung gets it with the BD-P4600


My close friends know that I'm not really a fan of Samsung products. However, I have to give credit where credit is due. I recently came across the Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-ray player and the thing that caught my eye was that it was wall mountable AND it has built-in Wi-Fi. It still floors me that most Blu-ray players being produced today have ethernet connections instead Wi-Fi. I don't know of too many people that have ethernet cabling near their TV's. So why ship a device that requires Ethernet to take advantage of the BD Live and over the internet firmware updates? 




Samsung gets it!

They designed this Blu-ray player to compliment your wall mounted LCD or Plasma HDTV. This way you can mount it neatly on the wall right below or next to your HDTV and by having built-in Wi-Fi that's one less cable you have to worry about running to it. It's also slot loading (think iMac) so there's no drawer or door to worry about. Not to mention it just looks cool! It looks like someone took a minute to think about the design and I can appreciate that! It also claims to have Netflix, YouTube, Blockbuster and Pandora streaming capabilities, which is also a plus.

I don't have any first hand knowledge with this player. So I can't tell you how well it works, or how it performs. However, the most favorable reviews/ratings on Amazon.com (where people tend to not hold back) tells me that this is probably a good player to investigate.

You can get the Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-ray player at a discount here.

Blu-ray! It’s now or never…


Well another holiday shopping season is upon us and once again people will be upgrading their home entertainment setups. The question is will they be getting Blu-ray players this year or not? Before I go on, let me just say that I like Blu-ray as a format and I was rooting for it to win the format war. However, little progress has been made since that war ended.


When we went to DVD…

When we made the transition to DVD from VHS there were several advantages. You go an improved picture that was noticeable. You got a smaller more convenient format that could be put into a laptop and other small devices. You no longer had to rewind and the picture quality didn’t suffer degradation over time.  Once the players dropped below $100 (the magic number for most consumers), buying a DVD player was a no brainer. 

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Logitech Harmony Adapter for Playstation 3


Although I’ve had a Playstation 3 in my home theater setup pretty much since they introduced it, there has been one thing that has always bugged me about it and that is that there really wasn’t a great universal remote solution for it. Granted I’ve used work arounds such as the Nyko Playstation 3 remote/adapter, but it didn’t allow for 100% control over all functions such as power on/off. It also occupies one of the PS3’s USB ports. So needless to say, I was happy to see Logitech come out with an adapter that is 100% functional!

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iTunes HD or Blu-ray?


In case you missed it, Apple just recently started selling movies via iTunes in HD. I’m not sure why it took so long for this to happen, but I would bet money that it had more to do with Hollywood than Apple. When you look at the severely limited number of HD titles for sale, we can only look to Hollywood and their relentless need to control everything to blame for this. Nonetheless, HD movies are now available not only for Rental (which Apple has been doing for over a year), but also for purchase. Like most things on iTunes, the number of titles will ramp up quickly. So this now leads me to my question:

iTunes HD or Blu-ray?

Let me remind you that I no longer just buy movies just because. One day I noticed I had a few movies in my collection that were still in the shrinkwrap. It hit me that I just rarely have the time or desire to watch movies that I’ve already seen. So whereas before I was buying just about every movie that I liked, today I would have to really really really really really like a movie to actually buy it. I have to weigh the cost of the movie vs. the number of times I’m likely to watch it again. Even if I want to watch a movie again, I have to ask: is it cheaper just to rent it again than to buy it?

Any recent movies I’ve purchased (and it’s only been a few) have been in Blu-ray format. I figure that if it’s good enough to buy, then I want it in the best possible format. Owning a movie in Blu-ray though does present a couple of challenges. For one, it can only be played in a Blu-ray player. So that limits me to watching the movie at home and not on the road on my laptop. That also limits the number of friends I could loan the movie too. A few of the movies I’ve purchased came with Digital Copies. So that at least takes care of the “take it on the road” problem, but due to copy protection/DRM I still can’t loan the movie out to friends.

I had a chance over the weekend to buy my first HD movie via iTunes and the process was as simple as buying any other item on iTunes. I was pleasantly surprised/reminded that when you buy HD content on iTunes, they automatically include a smaller standard def version for your portable devices (iPhones/iPods) and to take on the road with you. While this does make the download bigger (you’re downloading two movies instead of one) and take up more hard drive space, I welcome this. I purchased Transporter 3 (not because it’s all that great of a movie, it was just that the number of available titles in HD for purchase right now is severly limited). The iTunes HD version is $19.99. The Blu-ray price is $25.99 and does include a Digital Copy.


The iTunes HD version weighs in at 3GBs of drive space plus 1.1GBs for the standard def version that’s included.


Which is better?

That’s the real question isn’t it? That’s also probably why you’re reading this. Unfortunately “better” depends on what you want. So let me give you the pros and cons and you decide for yourself:



Full HD quality 1080p, extra content (outakes, bloopers, commentary, etc.), BD Live – access to online content from within the movie including games, online communities, extra scenes, etc. Can share with friends/family who have Blu-ray players.


Costs more per movie, requires a Blu-ray player, most laptops don’t have Blu-ray drives for watching on the go and not all titles include a Digital Copy. Takes up physical shelf space to store the discs. You have to either go out and purchase or order online and wait for the disc to arrive. Discs can become scratched and unplayable.

iTunes HD Movies


Costs less than movies on Blu-ray, can purchase and download right in your own home, comes with a copy for your other devices (iPod or iPhone).


Not the highest quality HD (only 720p), takes up hard drive space to store the movies (3GB for the HD version, 1.xGB for the standard def version), not sharable with others outside of your home due to DRM copy protection (when will Hollywood learn the same lessons that the music industy learned and do away with DRM?). Not burnable to optical media a video DVD/Blu-ray disc (again because of DRM protection).

The Bottom Line

Things just keep getting better as iTunes, TiVo, Netflix, Cable/Satellite companies continue to compete for our business. Having the ability to buy and download an HD movie right from my TV with Apple TV or from my computer is pretty sweet. Although iTunes HD movies are not full 1080p, I love the fact that they don’t take up any physical shelf space in my home. This also means that they are instantly available to all of my TV’s (via Apple TV streaming) because they are stored on a central media server (an iMac). Also keep in mind that 720p is still better than standard DVD quaility. So on those rare occassions when I think a movie good enough to actually own, I’ll probably look first to buying it via iTunes in HD format before going to Blu-ray now. If it’s a movie with the ultimate in visual effects and would really pop in all of its 1080p glory then I might consider owning it on Blu-ray. For right now my plan is to continue with Netflix and renting on Blu-ray for most of the movies I watch and renting on iTunes for those spontaneous moments when I just want to watch a movie that’s not physically sitting in my house/library. If iTunes ever offered a subscription rental service for movies my love for Netflix would be in serious jeopardy. I’ve recently cut my plan back to have less movies at home because they sometimes just sit here for weeks at a time when I’m too busy to watch them. This is one good thing about the pay as you go iTunes Rental model. You only pay for a rental when you’re ready to watch it!

I’m just glad to be living in a time where we have so many options for in home entertainment. I can see the day coming in the not too distant future that my DVD racks become a fond memory. I’ll either have all of my favorite movies streaming from my media server or available for instant renting/viewing over the internet. Hard drive space is cheap! I’m almost there today,  building my home media center with Netflix/TiVo HD and Apple TV. Life is good!

Terry White Recommends…

I have fun reviewing technology and gadgets. Now that I’ve been running my blog for a few years, it occurs to me that new readers may not have seen some of my earlier posts. I also get asked by friends and relatives all the time to recommend my top choice in any given category. I do this formally once a year in my Holiday Gadget Gift Guide, but that doesn’t really help you much when you want recommendations throughout the rest of the year. So I’ve put together my own Terry White Recommends aStore. I will constantly update this site with any new recommendations that I have. These are products that I either have first hand knowledge of or use on a very regular basis. I have no paid sponsors, so these are products that I simply feel are great!

Put your Blu-ray player on your Wi-Fi network

It's great that the new line Blu-ray players support BD Live and online content to compliment the movies. It's also great that their firmware can be updated over the internet. What I don't understand is why all the Blu-ray players I've seen rely on an Ethernet connection for internet access. I don't know of too many people that have Ethernet drops near their TV's. My bedroom is a perfect example. I have a Sony Bravia LCD TV and Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player connected to it. It's located in a nice wall unit and unfortunately there is no ethernet jack nearby. 



The Solution: An Ethernet Wi-Fi Bridge

I've used D-Link Wireless Ethernet Bridges in years past to connect older computers that had Ethernet, but not Wi-Fi. Once again I was in need of one of these bridges. My old one only supported 802.11b and I can't find it. I at least wanted 802.11b/g support. So I started looking at newer models. I was floored by how much these things have gone up in price. It appears that they are now geared towards gamers. Most hardcore gamers want to play others online. This means that your game console has to be connected to the internet and we're back to the same problem that most people don't have Ethernet jacks near their TV's. The Wii and PS3 have Wi-Fi built-in. However, some of the older consoles do not. So companies like Linksys and D-Link have come to the rescue with "wireless gaming adapters." These "gaming adapters" (Ethernet Wi-Fi Bridges) now go for close to $100. I can remember when they were half that price.  Well I needed one of these Bridges, but didn't want to pay top dollar for one. So off to eBay I went. I found a D-Link DWL-G810 Wireless Ethernet Bridge New in the Box for a winning bid of $51. This model is newer than my old one (which I can't find) and supports 802.11b/g.



How does a Wireless Ethernet Bridge work?

The concept is simple. The Bridge has an Ethernet jack on it and of course a power adapter. You plug it into your computer's Ethernet port long enough to set it up. This means setting it up to join your current wireless (Wi-Fi) network, network name (SSID) and network password. Once it's setup (about 5 minutes), you unplug it from your computer and plug it into your Ethernet only device. In my case this was my Sony Blu-ray player. That's it! Your Blu-ray player will connect to the internet wirelessly even though it only has an Ethernet jack. The Bridge will bridge your Wi-Fi connection to the Ethernet port on your player. 


The Bottom Line

Blu-ray player manufacturers need to either build Wi-Fi in or at least provide a low cost Wi-Fi adapter like TiVo does for the TiVo HD. In the meantime if you want to connect your Ethernet only device to your network and don't want to run wires your best bet is a Wireless Ethernet Bridge. If you shop around you can find one at bargain prices. Check out the latest offerings from D-Link, Linksys and Netgear, but don't forget about eBay. Also to the Bridge manufacturers, why are these things designed to be so, um, ugly?



I wrote this 2 years ago and while not much has changed in terms of the need to put Ethernet devices on your WiFi network, the solutions have changed as well as my recommendation. Recently I've started using TiVo's Wireless N Network Adapter and while you would think that this is specifically for TiVo, the reality is it's NOT! It's a slick little 802.11n Bridge that connects to your device via Ethernet. The setup is simple and you first plug it into your computer to get it setup on your wireless network. After that is done (takes less than 5 minutes), you can then plug it into any device that has an Ethernet port to put it online via your WiFi Network. Once it's set up the TiVo Adapter has no idea whether it's plugged into a TiVo or Blu-ray player or computer. 

You can get the TiVo Wireless N Network Adapter here.




Apple iTunes


Netflix Streaming Coming to a TiVo HD Near You!

My TiVo HD seems to be the gadget that just keeps on giving. The newness hasn’t even worn off my New LG BD300 Blu-ray player that streams Netflix, and bam TiVo announces a partnership with Netflix to bring streaming to the boxes I already own. Am I mad? No. I simply returned the LG to Bestbuy and bought another Sony instead. The LG does cost about $100 more than the Sony BDP-S350 (which has dropped down to $253.99) that I like so much, so It was a no-brainer to return it and just wait for the TiVo software update.

I’m very happy to see Netflix expand their service to more players. They also announced that they will be streaming HD movies to the Xbox 360. While I’m not in the market for an Xbox, I’m hoping that that HD streaming also makes its way to the TiVo HD as well! 

As soon as the TiVo gets updated with Netflix streaming I’ll report back on how it works. If you have a TiVo Series 3, TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL there is nothing you have to do. You’ll get this new feature via a software update that will automatically download to your TiVo. Also there will be no additional cost to your TiVo or Netflix service. Stay tuned for more…


In the meantime…

Netflix has finally made it’s movie streaming service compatible with Macs. Check it out here.

LG BD300 Blu-ray Player with Netflix Streaming



It wasn’t long ago that I reviewed the new Sony BD-S350 Blu-ray player and I’m still quite happy with it. However, I was intrigued by the NEW LG offering. The New LG BD300 Blu-ray Player can also stream Netflix movies. As a Netlfix subscriber, the only thing that I don’t like about the service is having to wait for the discs in the mail. Otherwise, I’m in love with Netflix. So when Netflix started offering movie streaming at no additional cost, it got my attention. When the service first rolled out, it only worked on Windows PC’s. While I can certainly boot into Windows on my Mac, I just wasn’t inclined to. It actually had nothing to do with running Windows. It was more about the selection of available streaming titles. While Netflix has over 100,000 titles on DVD (many on Blu-ray), there were only a handful at the start, available for streaming. As a matter of fact I normally have anywhere from 70-90 DVD titles in my queue at any given time. I was shocked to only see 4 out of the 90 titles in my queue available for streaming! Those 4 were older titles that I want to see at some point, but not anything new or urgent. 

Today, things are a little better. First off, there are more titles. Netflix is boasting over 12,000 Movies and TV shows for streaming.


Still only a small percentage of my queue is available for streaming

Still only a small percentage of my queue is available for streaming



Out of my 100+ DVDs/Blu-rays, these are available for streaming

Out of my 100+ DVDs/Blu-rays, these are the only ones available for streaming




Secondly Netflix has authorized hardware manufacturers to build the Netflix streaming technology in. The first box that I saw was the Roku. This $100 box has one purpose. It connects to your TV and your internet connection and streams movies from the Netflix service. That’s it! Again, I thought this was cool, but I wasn’t ready to spend $100 to only watch a handful of titles. So I waited. I then saw the New LG Blu-ray player. This “Network”  Blu-ray player sports all the latest and greatest advancements in Blu-ray technology including BD-Live support. However, it offers one more thing and that is Netflix streaming.

Since I was in the market for one more Blu-ray player at some point for my living room, I decided to move the Sony BD S350 to the living room and put the new LG in my theater. 


Netflix streaming

The New LG player is very easy to setup for Netflix streaming. Once you have it connected to your network, you choose the Netflix menu option, you’re given a 5 digit activation code.

You go to your computer and log in to your Netflix account and key it in. By the time I made it back to the theater room (not sure why I didn’t just take my laptop in there with me), there was a message waiting that my account was ready to go.


Streaming a movie was as simple as selecting it and hitting the OK/Play button. The movie starts playing in about 15-30 seconds (this will depend on the speed of your internet connection. I’m on a fast cable connection).

You can pause, fast forward or rewind any movie that’s playing. You can stop it and it will remember where you left off the next time you go to play it.


Streaming Picture quality and sound

Although the sound was really good, it was only stereo and not surround sound. As for the picture quality, it’s on par with standard def DVDs. I’ve now streaming movies from iTunes, Amazon Unbox and Netflix and I would say of the three iTunes is best, Netflix is a close second and Amazon is last in terms of image quality. Also no glitches in streaming. The movie streamed back smoothly.


16:9, Widescreen, HD

The Netflix movies that you stream are NOT in high def. Although I knew this going in, I expected them to all be at least widescreen (with the exception of titles that were never widescreen). I was shocked that the first couple of titles I tried were NOT playing in widescreen. As a matter of fact they even looked a little squished. It was like they were widescreen titles that were being forced into a 4:3 format.


"Right at your Door" playing back at 4:3 aspect ratio

“Right at your Door” playing back at 4:3 aspect ratio



I was really disappointed thinking that they they just didn’t stream in widescreen. A quick Google search lead me to see that they do in fact stream in widescreen. So I called Netflix tech support. The tech did confirm that “some” titles stream in widescreen. So I asked him to give me the name of a title that he knows to stream in widescreen. He told me to try “The Mummy.” I went back to my computer and added that movie to my queue (there is no search on the player itself). It was there waiting to be played by the time I walked back to the theater room. I played it and it was not playing widescreen either. The tech put me on hold and while he was checking on this, I tried a couple more titles. The next one I tried was “Glory” and low and behold it did fill the screen in widescreen format.


"Glory" streaming in widescreen

“Glory” streaming in widescreen



When the tech came back to the line, I informed him that it was working with certain titles. We still couldn’t figure out whey The Mummy was working for him, but not for me. Again, I’m not ecstatic that only some titles play 16:9 and some don’t. Even some of the newest titles were playing back in 4:3 format! I can live with it for now, but I want this to improve! The Netlfix tech informed me that they have no control over it. They only get one format from the movie houses and that’s the format they stream. I’m hoping that this situation will improve as they bring more titles online. In my quick tests only a couple of the ones in my queue played back widescreen.


It’s a Blu-ray player and more

Remember that the main purpose of this box is to play Blu-ray discs. It does a fine job at that with no complaints. I popped in Iron Man and the disc loaded very quickly.


"Iron Man" playing back from Blu-ray
"Iron Man" playing back from Blu-ray on the LG BD300


It also upconverts standard def DVDs to HD. The minute I connected the player up, there was a firmware update waiting.

This player connects to your network via Ethernet. So you will need either an ethernet drop near your TV or an Ethernet to Wi-Fi bridge (which I have not tested). It would be great if these Blu-ray players either came with Wi-Fi built-in or at least offered a low cost external option like the one available for TiVo HD.

There is also a USB 2 port on the back of the player. This allows you to hook up USB hard drives or thumb drives to handle content such as pictures or music. Since I use an Apple TV for pictures and music, I don’t really have a need for this on the LG, but it’s there if you need it.


The Bottom Line

If you need a Blu-ray player AND you have a Netflix account, this is your player! It’s about $100 more than the Sony BD S350 (it’s much cheaper now at $266), which you could argue is the same price as the Roku box. However, having the Netflix streaming combined with a Blu-ray player means only having to worry about connecting and controlling one device. Also since there are never enough HDMI or Optical Audio ports to go around, less is more! Another thing to ponder is that since there is no additional charge to use the Netflix streaming service if you already have a Netflix account, it’s like Netflix is maintaing a growing on-demand video library that is accessible to you whenever you want without you physically having to store the media.

No one service has it all (yet). Each one has the pluses & minuses. Overall, the combination of iTunes and Apple TV seems to be leading the pack (HD Movie Rentals and TV shows, iPod, iPhone, computer and TV compatibility, Streaming and Downloading options, no subscription fees). If Netflix could wrangle more titles loose from Hollywood in a streaming format, add HD and 5.1 surround options, they would be best. Amazon’s Unbox with TiVo HD is a nice option too. Nothing beats the quality of a Blu-ray disc though. So media will be around a little while longer, which is what keeps me going back to Netflix. Nope, none of these services is strong enough to stand on its own yet and that’s why I have Netflix, iTunes/Apple TV, TiVo HD and HBO HD via Comcast. As soon as one gets it right, I’d be glad to give up all the rest.

Best Buy has the LG BD300 for $349. Netflix plans start at $4.99/month (note that the $4.99/month plan only allows for 2 hours of streaming. All other plans allow unlimited streaming).

Digital Video: Moving to Tapeless Workflows

Last year I wrote a post out of frustration called “Just say no to HDD and MiniDVD camcorders.” The industry seemed hell bent on moving away from the the MiniDV standard that we had all come to know and love and instead turn the world of video into the wild wild west. Every manufacturer started doing their own thing and moving away from standards that were tried and true. The rush was on to try to become the leader in High Def digital video. It was extremely frustrating at the time because unknowing consumers were becoming the “beta test bed” for these manufacturers who were throwing everything they could out there to see what would stick. The biggest frustration was getting a camera that recorded in a format that wasn’t easily edited.

I did nibble at the HD bait and I purchased a Sony HDV camera. This camera could record in both DV and HDV. It was still taped based and still had Firewire (i-Link). However, after my first experience of the long rendering time to get HDV down to DV for burning to a DVD, I said “what’s the point?” I might as well be shooting in DV.” So I sold my Sony on eBay and continued to shoot in DV on my older gear. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of technology and nothing would please me more than to move off of tape. However, the problem was that there were no real tapeless standards back then. So my answer was to continue to shoot in DV and use an external hard drive attached right to my camera to have the best of both worlds (standard DV for editing and tapeless for convenience). I absolutely LOVE the Focus Enhancements Firestore FS-4 DTE Drives. These drives let you record your DV or HDV footage right to a external hard drive attached to your camera’s Firewire port and then you can attach the drive right to your computer and copy the file(s) over. It’s MUCH FASTER than the time it would take to download form tape in real-time.

These drives rock! However, they’re add weight and a certain amount of bulkiness to your camera setup, especially if you’re using a little handheld camera. I’ve never understood why Sony or Canon didn’t just build a “removable” drive into their camcorders. Life would have been so much simpler.

So let’s fast forward to today

The dust has settled a little. The industry seems to have settled on AVCHD as the format of choice in the consumer space (at least for now). My new camera is the Canon VIXIA HF10. This camcorder can record HD (1920×1080) video to either its built-in 16GB of flash memory or to an SD/SDHC card.

I tried it out for the first time during Photoshop World Vegas. This was the camcorder I used to shoot the Keynote video. I wasn’t concerned about shooting in HD. I was really interested in seeing how this camera would perform in post production. I was actually shocked at how well it “just worked.” I got back to my hotel room that day and just connected the HF10 to my MacBook Pro via the supplied USB cable. I transferred the footage over and just started editing it. Speaking of editing…

The editing software has caught up

Another frustration I had last year was that none of my editing apps would edit the footage from these tapeless cameras. Now all of my apps have caught up. My editing app of choice is Adobe Premiere Pro. The New Premiere Pro CS4 now edits natively in AVCHD.

The CS3 version was leading the pack in the pro arena with native support for XDCAM EX, Panasonic’s P2 cameras and the hot new RED One. Now that Premiere Pro CS4 supports editing files from the latest tapeless formats, including RED, AVCHD, P2, XDCAM EX and HD, natively, without transcoding or rewrapping plus all of the legacy formats (DV, HDV, etc.), there is no better choice for tapeless workflows IMHO.

Everyone is up in arms about the New MacBook – missing Firewire – KIA!

There have been many many heated posts over Apple’s decision to remove Firewire from the New MacBook. We’re talking about the consumer version, not the MacBook Pro which still includes a single FW 800 port. While I’m a fan of Firewire and would NOT want to lose it on any of my Macs, I can actually see why Apple removed it from the MacBook. If you look at where the industry is going in the consumer space, it’s moving AWAY from Firewire, not towards it. All of the new tapeless camcorders use USB, not Firewire. Firewire had been used in the consumer space mostly for working with video. So if the new consumer cameras don’t do Firewire, then why should the new consumer MacBook? Before you start with the hate-mail/comments, I get it (I’m on your side, I know, I know)! I know that Firewire has other IMPORTANT uses such as Target Disk Mode, fast Migration Assistant transfers, fast portable drives, working with audio gear, etc. and again these are the reasons why I would NOT want to lose my Firewire port on my MacBook Pro. However, if you’re NEW to the Mac (which according to Apple, 50% of the people buying Macs in Apple stores are), then you’re not going to miss these things, because you wouldn’t have known they were there in the first place. So I can see it from their perspective, which doesn’t mean I like it, it just means I understand it. Breathe! It will be OK. I remember when the first MacBook Pro didn’t come with Firewire 800! Pros screamed LOUDLY and the next thing you know, Firewire 800 made a come back on the next rev. So if enough people scream and more importantly don’t buy the new MacBook, then Apple may reconsider. It will be interesting to watch.

The Bottom Line – Is the water safe?

While the Canon HF10 worked as advertised (it is my camcorder of choice for travel) and I now have a great editing app to support it, I’m still not quite ready to make an investment in swapping out my pro-sumer gear. I’m still happy with the results I’m getting from my DV based Sony VX2000. The VX2000 coupled with the Firestore drive gives me everything I need. If I were to move up to HD for my event video work, the problem would be that I would still be delivering the final video on DVD, since most people have not moved up to Blu-ray yet. If that’s the case, then I might as well stick to widescreen standard def. Once Blu-ray becomes more mainstream (players down to the $100 or less range). I’ll take another look and see what the market is like then.

Should you buy a tapeless camera? Well that depends on your needs. If you already have a video solution that’s working, I would caution you to pause and take a look at what you hope to gain? In the consumer space these new AVCHD cameras are pretty sweet. Manufacturers are bypassing hard drives altogether and using flash memory instead. No moving parts and because they don’t use tapes (or hard drives), they are getting to be quite small. That’s a big plus for travelers. Also now that the newer ones support removable cards like SD cards, they are much more feasible to take on a trip because you won’t be totally relying on the built-in memory, which could fill up before you got back home. I still say STAY AWAY FROM CAMERAS THAT RECORD DIRECTLY TO A DVD or BLU-RAY DISC! These cameras SUCK when it comes to needing to edit your footage. They were designed for the person who wants to shoot and playback the footage. If that’s all you want to do, then go for it. However, if you want the ability to edit in your computer, then avoid these models like the plague.Â

If you’re a video pro, then you’ll have more choices to make! Should you go RED, should you go P2 or should you go XDCAM? Will you be locked into some proprietary workflow? If you’re not using Premiere Pro (and you should be 🙂 ), will your software edit this footage natively? So my bottom line advice is the water is safer, but proceed with caution. You can also decide to just sit this one out. It will only continue to get better.

Check out this video from my DV guru, Dave Helmly on editing AVCHD footage in the New Premiere Pro CS4. He takes it from beginning to the end and even spits out a Blu-ray and other formats!

[flv:http://media.libsyn.com/media/cspodcast/podcast-PR-AVCHD.mp4 628 353]

You can see more CS4 how-to videos on my Creative Suite Video Podcast or on Adobe TV.