MXO2 Mini or Intensity Pro?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by 321estrellas, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. 321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    I've been scratching my head over this decision according to my budget of about $500, and did tons of reading and research, yet I still can't decide which I should get between:

    - Matrox MXO2 Mini (to hook up to my current HDMI Monitor or 4:3 SD TV)


    - Blackmagic Intensity Pro AND an HDTV (to hook up to each other)

    My purpose is to monitor my FCP timeline as accurate as the client (who will be receving Bluray or SD DVD) will see it.

    I know the MXO2 Mini is a superior machine but I'm not sure how it will perform with an LCD computer monitor. I also heard that it only really works well with certain monitors, such as an Apple Cinema Display (which I don't have nor is it in my budget) or a Dell (but my Dell doesn't have HDMI, only component...and my HDMI monitor is BenQ...and both monitors are 1920x1200 whereas I read you need 1920x1080 monitors for it to work?) I haven't found many reviews online with the MXO2 Mini and a computer montor, since most reviewers are using it with an HDTV.

    I also have an SD/4:3 CRT TV with component inputs. But when I used to feed my widescreen timeline off my computer to camera via firewire, and my camera to TV via component/composite, the picture would take up the whole screen and be stretched. I did read that MXO2 Mini's software can unstretch it to give me the proper widescreen/anamorphic picture. The Intensity Pro can't do that, can it?

    On the other hand, I feel that using an Intensity Pro with an HDTV will do as good a job because that's how clients will likely view what I give them...through HDTV's and not through LCD computer monitors or SD CRT's. So I figure the colour, while not as accurate as if I were using an MXO2 or broadcast HD monitor, will be pretty darn close to what the client will see.

    Sorry for the long post, but this and more is what's been going through my head for quite a while now!

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
  2. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    You have certain aspects of the MXO2 Mini and original MXO mixed up. The original MXO was designed to pipe a video (not graphics) signal to the Apple Cinema Display 23" and do the necessary processing to have the Cinema Display display it like video. So what you've heard about it needing a specific monitor is correct — but for the MXO, not the MXO2. The MXO2 line are designed to work with LCD TVs. The same is true of the Blackmagic Intensity line.

    There are a few differences between typical LCD TVs and computer monitors that mean they're not substitutes for one another.

    One issue is colour space, which is essentially gamma and gamut. Gamut is the range of colours a display or system can include. Seen as the HD colour gamut and that of the most common computer space (sRGB) are pretty much the same, it was not much of an issue in the past, but now with wide gamut computer monitors it's a potential issue. Gamma is not something that can be explained in simple terms, but its effect dictates how the image looks. You need the correct gamma curve to see the image as it will display on a TV, and most computer monitors don't have this capability (or, should I say, functionality).

    Another issue is refresh rate. Computer monitors are almost always 60Hz. TV signals are 59.94Hz, 50Hz or 47.952Hz. What made the Apple Cinema Display ideal for the MXO was that, rare for a computer monitor, ran at 59.94Hz. The Dells that used the same panel and were often touted as an alternative ran at 60Hz, so there'd be a slight judder every so often when a field repeated to slip it back into sync with the video. Though some noticed the judder, most could happily live with it. Neither were ideal for 50Hz or 47.952Hz material.

    And most computer monitors cannot or cannot well deal with interlaced material.

    I'm not sure, but I doubt there'd be any issue with either the MXO2 or Intensity and an 1920x1200 monitor (it'll just have black bars top and bottom), nor any issue with anamorphic material — the issue is that few computer monitors have the correct gamma curve, refresh rate and handling of interlaced material.

    So, the Intensity and HDTV will work; the MXO2 and computer display will very likely not. (I say "very likely" because there is the odd computer monitor that can properly behave like a TV.)

    Not sure if you wanted this much detail in a reply, but I figured it might it help if you've been agonising over this for some time.
  3. 321estrellas thread starter macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    Thanks for the in-depth information! It really helps. Looks like I'll be ordering the Intensity Pro as soon as B&H's Passover closure ends :D

Share This Page