Formac Studio DV/TV: A Key Spoke For Your Digital Hub?

December 21st, 2001
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist

There are only a few things that are lacking from my Dual G4/800 "Digital Hub." When I heard about the Formac Studio DV/TV, I was very intrigued. Formac claims if you have one of these "magic" boxes (and the right software), you can perform these functions on your Mac:
Watch up to 125 channels of TV on your Mac screen (or do like me and set it to channel 3 so you can watch digital quality TV piped from your digital cable box)

Record live T.V. at 30 fps (720x480) using built-in hardware compression

Listen to your favorite FM radio stations

Use it as a VCR controller to play back (and capture) analog video (SVHS or VHS) via RCA composite or S-Video ports

Record to analog video (SVHS or VHS) via composite or S-Video ports

Play and capture digital video via FireWire

Use it to connect to an NTSC display for previewing an edited video in its "native habitat."

And all this without an A/C adapter since it runs off of FireWire bus power (unless you are using CardBus FireWire).

Now you know why they call it "Studio." It converts your Macintosh into a video/audio recording studio.

But will your "studio" be a professional one? I asked one long time DV professional what he thought of it. He called the Studio DV/TV a "joke." DV professionals would typically use a Sony DVCAM Digital Walkman with their "serious" DV camcorder. They wouldn't need a breakout box of any kind since they would use the FireWire connection. Such a setup is required so that the source material can be dubbed and edited without any deterioration of video and audio quality.

I guess if you look at it that way, the Studio DV/TV becomes a very pricey TV and FM radio tuner.

Another DV professional took a different view: "The Studio DV/TV is not a joke if it can convert analog to digital in a clean manner. And even DV creators working with FireWire need an analog output to an NTSC monitor as well as a way to convert analog recordings to digital."



I had a blast trying out all the Studio DV/TV's features and cable interfaces. I can't justify the cost "just for fun." And I'm not qualified to determine if the quality of the captured analog video and audio is up to professional standards. It seems to me that if you have some analog video or audio to capture, it should do the job as well as any other analog breakout box.

For me, it is a tempting purchase. I could get very used to watching TV in a 720x480 window on my dual screen dual G4. And I have some SVHS and VHS footage I'd like to capture and edit... and some old phonograph records I want to transfer to my iPod...



CreativeMac reviewed Studio DV/TV. They complained about RF interference messing up the quality of the analog capture. I didn't see that but I'm looking into the issue.



You can purchase the Studio DV/TV direct from Formac for $399.

The OS X version of the software for the Studio DV/TV is available for download from Formac.



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© 2001 Rob Art Morgan.
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