There is much interest in Apple’s new Fusion Drive for Macs, where an SSD and conventional Hard Drive are paired into one drive. Files are automatically moved between the SSD and HD depending on usage, so the most frequently accessed files reside on the faster SSD and the HD provides greater capacity for infrequently used files. The feature sounds like a step forward for users with more files than a reasonably priced SSD can store, but there are still many answers and reliability tests needed before it’s something to recommend for use on a hackintosh.
After recently buying a 128Gb OCZ Vertex Plus SSD from Aria, for the bargain price of £40, I have been looking at ways to use this with my 2Gb hard drive. I recently added a Seagate 2Gb 7200.14 drive, using my previous 2Gb drive as a backup. The new Seagate gave a big boost to read/write performance, going from around 50Mb/s read/write on the old HD to 140Mb/s read/write on the Seagate 7200.14. This testing was done using the free Blackmagic Disk Speed Test app for the Mac appstore, so while in no way comprehensive does show a big speed increase for sequential access.
The OCZ Vertex Plus SSD is an older generation device that gives around 160Mb/s write and 200Mb/s read speeds. This is way below the 500MB/s+ speeds that newer SSD’s can offer, but this was intended as a cheap test before committing to a more expensive SSD. The next decision is how to use the two drives, with three main options available: Read more…
While picking up Mrs Bassheads last few presents yesterday I popped into Jessops to have a look at the special offers. I’ve had my eye on a Canon HF100 for a while now, and intended to order one from Amazon after Christmas. The price on Amazon.co.uk recently dropped from £550 for £450, then shot back over £500 before I had a chance to order one. It’s currently sitting at £476, and Jessops had the HF100 for £499 witha £50 cash back from Canon. Even better, when I paid the system said the price was £489 so the total after cashback is £439. I could order from Amazon and get one for £426 with the cashback but it’s in my hand and I can now shoot HD christmas video to bore the family.
Compared to my last video camera (Sanyo Xacti HD2, soon to be appearing on Ebay) the HF100 is stunning. Easy to use menu’s, responsive screen and an easy to control yet fast zoom make it a pleasure to use. The footage doesn’t disappoint either. I set the camera to 25p mode and used shutter priority at 25 to get amazing low light performance. The Xacti would just go black and fuzzy in low light, and although there is still noise in the Canon’s footage there’s also a lot of detail. Read more…
I’ve been thinking about upgrading a lot of my AV equipment for a while now. I had my eye on a Sony 40W4000U LCD TV that just keeps getting cheaper (at least there is one small benefit to the credit crunch) then they had to go one better with the 40W4500U. An even better LCD TV for a little bit more cash. It’s now number one on the wanted list, but that’s where the easy decisions end. Read more…
How hard can this be? Sample video from the Sony HDR-TG3E (TG1 in the USA) has started appearing online and I’ve downloaded some to have a look at on my Mac. The video files are in an AVCHD format with an .MTS file extention. Quicktime doesn’t recognise the files, and VLC tries to play a few seconds then crashes. This post says some of the VLC nightly builds will play the video, so I downloaded several that were recommended as working. All played the video files poorly, freezing and jumping constantly. Mplayer wouldn’t even open the files.
Further searching revealed the only current way of viewing .MTS AVCHD files on the Mac is using Roxio’s Toast 9. Toast opens the Toast Video Player (©2008 Elgato) which plays the video’s smoothly. iMovie and Final Cut Express/Pro can import the video files direct from the recorder, but not plain files on your hard drive.
For anyone looking to view some sample’s on a Mac here are some links that should help.
I’ve previously mentioned Sony’s impressive TG3 HD camcorder, and it’s now available in the UK. Dixons in the Gatwick departure lounge had it for £499, and while I wouldn’t agree that it’s the size of a mobile phone it is compact. The Rejuvenated Simplydv.co.uk have a good review that praises the TG3 for image quality and lists the only negative points as a fiddly zoom control and having to use the touchscreen for most adjustments.
While in the Dixons store I also got my hands on the Sanyo Xacti HD1000, which surprised me by its size. This is one camcorder that won’t be going into your pocket which is a major change for the Xacti series. The small size of my Xacti HD2 is what keeps it in my travel bag while the Nikon D50 and Canon MiniDV camcorder stay at home, so I won’t be upgrading to the HD1000.
Amazon.co.uk currently have the Panasonic HDC-SD5 at £349 including free delivery. That’s not bad for a model released at the end of 2007 and still selling for over £600 at some sites. The SD5 offers 3CCD’s recording 1080i AVCHD video to SDHC cards, and 1920×1080 stills.
I posted a few days ago about the Sony HDR-TG3E, a compact HD camera that showed a lot of potential. The first hands on review I have seen has now been posted at tracyandmatt.co.uk. No sample video or photo’s but a video of unboxing and first impressions was posted. Unfortunately it’s hosted on Revver which I can’t add here. Worth reading the review for the comments on picture quality, and I look forward to seeing the first low light samples.
Sony has unveiled the HDR-TG3E, which it claims is the world’s smallest and lightest 1920 HD camcorder available. Measuring 33 x 119 x 63mm it certainly compact, and the titanium body should help it to withstand scratching. The Memory Stick Pro Duo is as usual Sony’s storage medium of choice, and a 4GB stick is supplied. Four Megapixel stills are captured as well as the HD video, and it appears to use the AVCHD format including 5.1 surround sound. The 2.7in LCD touchscreen should make it easy to use, and an optional GPS unit will allow geotagging.
This stunner will be available Stateside from next month for around $900, with no word yet on the European launch date or price. I’m looking forward to the reviews to see how the low light performance compares to my sadly lacking Sanyo Xacti HD2.
So it finally looks like the HD format war is over. Blu-Ray is the winner of a battle that no-one wanted, and it now has to convince the generally uninterested public to pay more for movie disc’s and players. The price will drop like normal once sales ramp up, but is there any point to taking the plunge now?
I recently saw a Ratatouille Blu-Ray disc playing on a Sony 46 inch LCD. Until that moment I was unconvinced by HD, but that combination was stunning. I haven’t seen the same material on an upscaling DVD player so I can’t compare the quality, but even Mrs Basshead was impressed.
On our trip to Lakeside last weekend Mrs B wandered into the Sony store to have a look at the LCD TV’s and I stood outside watching the same 46 inch screen showing HD content from the BBC. I’m not sure if it was a live broadcast or a recorded demo, but the quality was not impressive. The BBC HD logo in the top left corner of the picture was a mass of compression artifacts, as was the whole picture. Does this mean broadcast HD is just as bad as regular Digital TV picture quality? What I mean by this is digital’s lack of bandwidth when it comes to rapid picture changes like flashing light or fast camera movement. Try watching a music show when multi coloured spotlights are strobing to see a picture going blocky due to an insufficient data rate.
I always felt a bit ripped off when cable and satellite TV went digital, it seemed like an excuse to sell new equipment with no improvement in quality. Hopefully HD isn’t going to be an excuse to sell lots of expensive equipment, but the quality would have to be a lot better than what the Lakeside Sony store was showing to make me pay out.
Looks like there will finally be another option for tapeless HD camcorders. The Canon Vixia HF10 offers full HD recording (1920×1080 resolution) to 16Gb of internal flash memory and SDHC cards. Quoted battery life of 3 hours standard is pretty good too. Due in April in the US for $1,099 this could be what I’ve been waiting for. My current Sanyo Xacti HD2 is fine outdoors in bright light, but poor in lower light conditions. Sony have some nice HD/Hdd models available that are reported to be a bit better, but don’t bother with JVC’s Everio range. Will the Vixia finally offer good low light performance? More details and video here.