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New Systems From NewTek

NAB is one of those shows that’s so big that, even a month after it happens, I’m still digging out from not only the backlog that piled up in the office while I was in Las Vegas, but also the news and products that came out of the show itself. I was supposed to meet at the show with NewTek VP of strategic development Philip Nelson to take a look at the company’s new 3PLAY instant replay system as well as get a sneak preview of the TriCaster XD300, which is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year, but our schedules never matched up, and so I finally got an online demonstration of the technologies last week.

The TriCaster has become such a mainstay of the live streaming world—it’s used by a veritable media and entertainment who’s who, including Fox Sports, Fox News, MTV, and the BBC—that it’s sometimes easy to take for granted. So I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over by the XD300, but from the online demo, it looks like, if not a game-changer, than certainly the system that will keep NewTek in the game for a long time to come.

The XD300 is a 3-input, broadcast-style switcher that can take HD and SD inputs at the same time (it’s NewTek’s first venture into HD live switching, Nelson says), mix and match them from scene to scene, and up-res them to HD output. It also features a processing amplifier that allows for on-the-fly adjustments of brightness, saturation, and other modifications on each input, as well as easy switching between a two- and three-monitor GUI and a whole slew of effects and overlays that can be applied and previewed before taking them live. The system features expanded Virtual Set options, as well as "Virtual Inputs" that allow users to take a single input—say, an anchor behind a desk—and choose, for instance, a zoom version and a wide shot and bounce back and forth between them.

Though the $14,995 XD300 won’t ship until Q4, NewTek has introduced an upgrade program so that anyone who purchased a TriCaster after January 15, 2009 can upgrade to the XD300 by simply trading in their existing unit and paying the difference. NewTek has also entered into a deal with Ustream giving TriCaster customers a month of the top tier of Ustream’s premium Watershed service, which offers 11,000 viewer hours of delivery and usually runs $879 a month.

And the 3PLAY? It’s a $21,995 (for NTSC; $24,995 for multi-format) instant-replay box that features three each of serial, component, Y/C, and composite inputs, and an equal number of outputs. Traditionally, replay systems have been priced out of reach for streaming-only applications, but at this price point, the technology may now appeal to sports teams and organizations that otherwise wouldn’t have even considered it.

In other news MTV.com will be webcasting red carpet interviews from the 2009 MTV Movie Awards on May 31 using the TriCaster.

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