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Putting the Squeeze on LSX-MPEG Suite 2.0

The only thing less appealing than having to put two pounds of manure into a one-pound bag is having to squeeze a video file into the Internet so it is small enough, yet doesn’t come out looking like, well, crap. It takes some doing. And in that respect, Ligos’ new LSX-MPEG Suite 2.0 has potential (www.ligos.com). Not your ordinary transcoder for converting AVI files to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2, this new suite requires some thinking on your part in order to extract the best possible feed for the Internet, DVD or CD-ROM.

The Big Picture

The LSX-MPEG Suite 2.0, which includes a player, an encoder and an Adobe Premiere plug-in, is a long way from plug-and-play transcoding, but it is perfecting the art form. First and foremost, it packs in a lot of coding power for the money (the suite lists for $399; less for the stand-alone encoder and player). We ran a digitally generated, 30fps AVI animation through the encoder in DVD mode at a variety of bit rates, and we were amazed at the playback quality every time. Frame by frame, we didn’t see an iota of quality difference compared to the uncompressed original.

If we are to believe Ligos’ built-in quality meter, image quality averaged a score of 87 out of 100, with a minimum image quality of 39 on a file compressed for 3Mbps. Ligos rates images on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best, based on the average sum of differences in square values of pixels compared between input and output frames. At the highest bit rate tested, 5Mbps, the average image quality scored a 97, and the minimum image quality scored an 80. It took five times real time (or 45 seconds), give or take a few seconds depending on bit rate, to transcode the 9-second file on our Windows 2000 Pentium III 500MHz PC. It took a lot longer — eight times real time — to do the same on a Windows 98 partition.

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