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Review: Video Devices PIX E5H Recording Video Monitor

The Video Devices PIX E5H 5" LCD Monitor and 4K recorder offers a lot of capability--4K ProRes and H.264 dual recording, image assessment, and tools to assist with video shooting--in a small and rugged package.

The Video Devices PIX E5H 5" LCD Monitor and 4K recorder offers a lot of capability--4K ProRes and H.264 dual recording, image assessment, and tools to assist with video shooting--in a small and rugged package. But what compromises are made to get all this technology into something that literally fits into the palm of your hand? It turns out, not many. But in testing the Pix E5 I found a few caveats I didn't expect.

The PIX

Sound Devices has produced high-quality, very rugged audio recording hardware since 1998, and Pix monitors are no exception. The die-cast metal enclosure of the Pix monitors is part and parcel of Sound Devices’ rugged standard. I was loaned a Pix E5H (HDMI-only) from Video Devices for a few weeks to test with my 4K cameras. I'd be scared for my hardwood floor, not the Pix, if I dropped this monitor/recorder; it's like a brick of solid metal. That's reassuring considering most of today's plastic-encased cameras.

Holding the Pix E5 in my hand (Figure 1, below), it's hard to image that this small package contains a dual-battery, dual-4K recorder, 5" LCD with 15 tactile, physical controls on it. There’s a 1/2-20 thread on the bottom as well as a vent opening. A very quiet internal fan works to try and keep the Pix E5 cool. (More on that later.)

Figure 1. As advertised, the Pix E5H fits in the palm of my hand. Click the image to see it at full size.

There's a covered port for the Pix-LR, which is a 2-channel XLR input/output attachment that can be screwed into the bottom of the Pix monitors (Figure 2, below). The Pix-LR offers a 23-segment LED audio meter, as well as large and illuminated transport controls for recording and playback. It mates well with the 5" Pix monitors but looks a little undersized with the 7". Integration is very tight as the Pix-LR (not reviewed) can be controlled in the Pix menu system.

Figure 2: The Pix-LR XLR I/O attachment. Click the image to see it at full size.

On the right-hand side (Figure 3, below), there’s a threaded DC input so the power cord can’t get yanked out. The menu knob works to both scroll and press to enter through the menus. It follows the fairly standard Devices’ way of doing this long established in their monitor-recorder line. The menus are easy to navigate and understand.

Figure 3. Right-hand side of the Pix E5H. Click the image to see it at full size.

Above the menu knob is an SD card slot for recording your video using H.264. It's a UHS-I slot, so it's not capable of higher UHS-II card speeds. For recording the higher data rates required by ProRes and DNxHD, you need to use the SpeedDrive (Figure 4, below), which fits into a specially designed slot on the back. Above the SD card slot is a USB slot. Next to the card slot is the vent out from the internal fan.

Figure 4. Use the USB 3.0-attached SpeedDrive to record at ProRes’s and DNxHD’s higher data rates. Click the image to see it at full size.

On top (Figure 5, below) you’ll find a physical sliding power switch as well as releases for the batteries and SpeedDrive. I think these are the only plastic parts on the Pix. There's also a second 1/4-20 threaded hole.

Figure 5. Sliding power switch and battery release atop the Pix E5H. Click the image to see it at full size.

On the left is the I/O, with HDMI in and out (Figure 6, below), and (on some models) SDI in and out. Mine is the E5H, so it's HDMI-only. There's also a 1/8" stereo audio input, as well as a 1/8" stereo headphone out jack.

Figure 6. HDMI I/O. Click the image to see it at full size.

The metal back of the Pix is covered with heat sinks, and there are molded notches and connections for two Sony-based Infolithium-L/NP-F batteries, which seem to be the standard for video gear these days. The center area is designed to hold the SpeedDrive into the USB 3.0 slot on the Pix.

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