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Friday, January 23, 2009

TriCaster Duo Hands On Review

We got our first TriCaster Duo and I've had a chance to spend a little time with it now. This is NewTek's newest offering in their line of all-in-one production units It's very similar to the base model TriCaster 100 but designed with the K-12 educational market in mind. It is also available to commercial buyers. The educational list price is $2995 and the commercial list is $3995. You can call us at Digital Arts 1-800-692-6442 for an actual price quote.

The Duo is housed in a simple silver box with all of the A/V connections on the front. It's a little smaller and lighter than the original TriCaster. The back has the computer monitor, mouse and keyboard connectors along with four USB2 ports so it's easy to connect external drives or memory sticks.

The TriCaster Duo is a three input video switcher with RCA jacks for composite video and the conventional 4-pin mini-din jacks for s-video input. For audio input it sports a pair of RCAs for line level audio and two 1/8" mini jacks (like those used on computer sound cards) for microphones. There are no input trims on the mic inputs so you shouldn't use them with line level sources.

For outputs you get both an RCA composite and a mini-din s-video outs that are both usable simultaneously along with a pair of RCAs and a 1/8" headphone jack for audio. As with the other TriCasters the Duo can be set up to use the headphone output as a second audio bus by using the solo buttons to route selected sources directly to it.

The interface is almost identical to the TriCaster 100 with one major exception. NewTek's video editor is not included. This allowed them to use a less powerful and therefore less expensive processor in order to get the retail price so low.

The TriCaster Duo ships with around 250 different DVEs including a large number of wipes, fades curls and trajectories. So you have enough different transitions for just about any situation these load into a single bank of ten on the interface so you can have your favorites at you fingertips. You also get a large selection of title templates. Professionally designed, you can use these as a base for overlays and other graphic screens.

If you prefer to create your graphics from scratch NewTek also includes a full blown CG just like the other TriCasters and the VT[5]. With the CG you can create title templates from scratch and import graphics done in another program like Photoshop.

Graphics and text are keyed over your video from the Overlay control panel you can use Title Templates, the picture viewer or NewTek's external CG editor Live Text as a source.

The Duo can either record your production to the hard drive as a high quality MPEG file or stream it live using the Windows Media Codec but not both at once. You'll need to step up to the TriCaster Pro to do both at once. My unit had about 200GB free on the hard drive which should be good for more than 16 hours of video.

A few noteworthy negatives: The Duo ships with XP Home rather than Pro, this will only be an issue for corporate buyers who try to connect to a network that has domain controllers. XP Home can't connect to a domain.

The unit has a place to mount a 120mm fan in the back but NewTek doesn't include one. I've always felt the more cooling the better but this would be pretty easy to have your dealer install and probably isn't necessary unless you are going to be operating in extreme conditions.

There is no firewire port so if you want to capture video for use in the DDR you must use either the composite or s-video connectors. Again not really a big deal but it would be a nice feature to have.

The bottom line is the TriCaster Duo is a good value for the money and has all the features you need for basic video production and webcasting. You should carefully evaluate your needs to be sure you get the right TriCaster for your particular situation but if your on a tight budget, don't need Virtual Sets or an editor the Duo might be just the thing.

Update: I forgot to mention that the academic version also includes a curriculum handbook and a 40 minute video tutorial. I'll post some more info on the curriculum in a few days after I've had a chance to look it over more closely.


See the TriCaster Duo at Digital Arts

2 comments:

Romeo Romerez said...

I'm having trouble when I import video into my tricaster. I can see the movie but can't hear the sound.

I'm trying to import a quicktime .mov file and as I say, pic is perfect. No sound though. I have had a kind of crunch sound for a fraction of a second but then it went off.

Any ehl would be so appreciated.

Romeo Romerez said...

Also, you might want to go to www.noordinaryfamily.co.uk and check out what they have to offer. they're a great video production company operating out of Manchester and providoing some of the best service available for the price. Wickedly brilliant.