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Matrox MXO2 Mini FAQ

Great Things DO Come in Small Packages!

Order from Videoguys.com or give us a call at 800-323-2325
Matrox MXO2 Mini Desktop Kit
with PCIe Card

Matrox MXO2 Mini Laptop Kit
with ExpressCard/34

MXO2 Mini is Also Available with Matrox MAX Technology
Now with FREE Cable Kit!
Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX Desktop Kit with
FREE Videoguys Cable Kit

Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX Laptop Kit with
FREE Videoguys Cable Kit

I think it's time to start talking more about one of the most cost effective tools you can add to your HD video editing arsenal - the Matrox MXO2 Mini. There are lots of great features in this mighty mite, and I'm going to use this article to tell you all about them. We've had great success in the past using an FAQ format to better explain new products and technology, so we'll keep at it now.

What is the MXO2 Mini?
The MXO2 Mini is a portable I/O (input/output) device. It supports both Standard Definition and High Definition footage. On the SD side you get composite, S-Video and Component input and output. For HD you get Component and HDMI in and out. HDMI can of course also be used for SD footage, but I like to think of it as an HD interface.


How do I hook up the MXO2 Mini to my computer?
The MXO2 Mini is an external device that works with both desktops and laptops. It supports Windows (XP or Vista with Windows 7 drivers coming later this year) and Mac (Snow Leopard drivers now available for free download). The MXO2 Mini comes with your choice of PCIe adapter card for your desktop or ExpressCard/34 card for your laptop.

The Mini is flexible and portable. You can easily disconnect the Mini from one machine and attach it to any other, as long as one of the Matrox interface cards are installed in it. This means that you can use it with multiple machines, in different locations, in the field or in the studio. Just add an affordable adapter card (available for just $99.00 each) to any machine. It's that easy and inexpensive!

What NLE software does MXO2 Mini Support?
On the Mac, the MXO2 Mini supports Apple Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 and all of the apps found in the latest Final Cut Studio 3 bundle as well as the previous FCS2. On the PC, MXO2 Mini supports Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and the Adobe CS4 Production Premium.

Videoguys' Tech Note: We have received many requests and questions about MXO2 Mini supporting Adobe CS4 on the Mac, Sony Vegas Pro 9 and Avid Media Composer. We have passed this information to Matrox. Unfortunately, as of October 2009, these programs are not supported. If anything changes in the future we'll be sure to let you know.

What kind of HD workflows does MXO2 Mini support?
The MXO2 Mini supports HDV, XD CAM, DVC Pro HD, P2 and uncompressed HD. With the MXO2 Mini you can go directly from your Final Cut or Premiere Pro timeline out to your HD monitor via component and/or HDMI. I think it's important to note that both of these outputs are active at the same time, meaning you can simultaneously preview your timeline on your HDMI equipped HDTV while recording to an HD deck via the component output.

You can capture HD footage into your NLE via the MXO2 Mini's HDMI or Component video input.

Does MXO2 Mini Support ProRes?
Absolutely! In fact you can capture directly into ProRes via the Mini's HDMI or Component inputs if you have a fast enough Mac (4-cores or more).

While you edit, your ProRes HD timeline will play out directly via the MXO2 Mini's outputs. Matrox supports all the new ProRes flavors introduced as part of the new Final Cut Studio 3 with the exception of ProRes 4444.

How do you capture HD with Adobe Premiere Pro on Windows?
MXO2 Mini gives you two options for HD capture in Adobe Premiere Pro. You can capture uncompressed HD or you can capture into the Matrox MPEG2 HD CODEC. The Matrox MPEG2 HD CODEC allows you to variably set the bit rate and has been used in Matrox's Axio and RT.X line of products for years. It is tested and proven in even the most demanding broadcast environments.

Does Matrox MXO2 Mini support AVCHD?
If you're working with AVCHD, you can capture the footage using the MXO2 Mini via the HDMI or Component video input into ProRes with Apple Final Cut or the Matrox MPEG2 CODEC as mentioned above with Adobe Premiere Pro.

The MXO2 Mini also supports CineForm NeoScene and NeoHD. You can't use the Matrox MXO2 Mini to capture directly into the CineForm CODEC yet, but Matrox and CineForm are working together to add that support to the MXO2 Mini with CineForm's NeoHD. For now, you need to convert your AVCHD files into CineForm's CODEC and then edit them with Adobe Premiere Pro. This conversion is faster than realtime and an hour of AVCHD footage usually takes between 20-30 minutes to convert, depending on the speed of your computer. Your CineForm timeline will then play out through the MXO2 Mini's HDMI or Component video outputs. Click here for our MXO2 Mini Bundles with CineForm NeoScene!

Videoguys' Tech Note: Cineform NeoScene and NeoHD are available for the Mac but have not been tested with the Matrox MXO2 Mini with Apple FinalCut Pro at the time of this article.

The advantage of using CineForm over native AVCHD is that it is a better compression for video editing. AVCHD is amazing and it packs a ton of exquisite HD footage into very small files. Unfortunately these files require a ton of horsepower to edit. Even with a powerful machine editing more then 2 layers of AVCHD footage becomes problematic. You'll see sluggish timeline performance and jittery previews. The CineForm CODEC is practically lossless. Your video will look just as spectacular, in full 1920 x 1080 resolution, only it will be much easier to edit. You'll even be able to handle multiple layers of CineForm HD footage with filters and effects on a Core i7 machine.

What does up/down convert and cross convert mean in the MXO2 Mini Specs?
Great question and one that is causing lots of confusion. The MXO2 Mini will allow you to convert from one format to another during capture or output. This is done on the fly utilizing the Matrox MXO2 Mini hardware at 10-bits. For example, if you have an HD timeline that you need to output to SD you can just use the Matrox MXO2 Mini to down-convert your HD footage to SD on the fly as you output and you won't need to re-render your project.

Cross conversion means you can output a 720p timeline as 1080i and vice versa. This can save you a tremendous amount of time if your customer, client or boss requires a specific output format that doesn't match your original footage. No need to re-render, just us let the MXO2 Mini do the heavy lifting!

Videoguys' Tech Note: The MXO2 Mini will not convert or accelerate the rendering of your timeline from one format to another. The MXO2 Mini does it's conversion magic during capture or output.

What is Matrox MAX Technology and why do I want it?
Matrox MAX technology is a special hardware chip that gives you H.264 acceleration. There is a version of the Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX that has this hardware built right into the box and is available for only $400 more than the standard MXO2 Mini.

MAX allows you to encode your video to H.264 for Blu-ray, Flash or YouTube at faster than real-time! How fast is it? Right now a fully loaded 8-core Mac Pro tower will take several hours to encode one hour of ProRes HD video to H.264 - with the Matrox Max it will take less then an hour! That's right faster then real-time encoding - even on a slower Mac.

What is H.264?
H.264 is an encoding standard used to produce the very highest quality Blu-ray and web based video. It is used by Hollywood and the networks to provide the highest possible image quality in the smallest possible file sizes. That means it is very highly compressed video. As a result encoding your HD video to H.264 gives you the very best possible quality video but, unfortunately, H.264 encoding takes lots of computer power and rendering time. The MXO2 family of products with MAX technology massively accelerate your H.264 encoding.

Can I buy the Matrox MXO2 Mini now and upgrade it with MAX later?
Not exactly. When you purchase the MXO2 Mini you have to decide if you want it with or without MAX technology. Unfortunately you can't upgrade an MXO2 Mini to a Mini MAX. The MAX chips are integrated into the main circuit board during manufacturing.

If you decided to buy an MXO2 Mini without MAX now and you want to add it later, you do still have an option if you are using a workstation. You can add the Matrox Compress HD card ($495) and it will deliver the full range of MAX features plus the added benefit of being able to encode in the background while you are using your MXO2 Mini for monitoring the output of your timeline!

What is the difference between the MXO2 Mini and the other flavors of MXO2?
The difference in the MXO2 family of products is the input & output options available on them. The features, capabilities, performance and power of all of the MXO2 family of products are exactly the same.

The MXO2 LE adds support for SDI I/O. SDI stands for Serial Digital Interface and it is used with broadcast gear. If you do not have decks or camcorders that require SDI, then you do not need to step up to the MXO2 LE. The MXO2 Mini has everything you need!

  • If you need SDI then the MXO2 LE at under $1,000 is a fantastic choice.
  • The MXO2 adds additional audio I/O and SDI channels.
  • The MXO2 Rack adds even more audio I/O and genlock loop-thru in a rugged rack mount design for broadcast environments.
MXO2 Mini
MXO2 Rack
Video Inputs
Composite & Y/C YES YES YES YES
Audio Inputs
RCA Audio (unbalanced) 2-channels 2-channels 2-channels  
XLR Audio (balanced)   2-channels 2-channels 4-channels
Embedded HDMI Audio (8 channels) YES YES YES YES
Embedded SDI Audio (8 channels)   YES YES YES
AES/EBU (unbalanced)     2-channels 4-channels
Video Outputs
Composite & Y/C YES YES YES YES
Component HD/SD (Selectable YUV or RGB) YUV only YES YES YES
Audio Outputs
RCA Audio (unbalanced) 2-channels 2-channels 6-channels  
XLR Audio (balanced)   2-channels 4-channels 8-channels
Embedded HDMI Audio (8 channels) YES YES YES YES
Embedded SDI Audio (8 channels)   YES YES YES
AES/EBU (unbalanced)     2-channels 4-channels
Direct Surround Sound Monitoring     5.1 5.1 and 7.1
PC Support - Adobe CS4 YES      
Mac Support - Apple Final Cut Studio YES YES YES YES
Monitor Calibration Utility YES YES YES YES
CineForm Support PC Only      
HD-SDI Close Captioning   YES YES YES
1:1 Pixel Mapping YES YES YES YES
RS-422 device control   YES YES YES
10-bit Support YES YES YES YES
Genlock   YES YES w/Loop thru
Accelerated H.264 Encoding for High-Definition Blu-ray Disc & Multimedia Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX Desktop Kit with FREE Cable Kit
Matrox MXO2 LE Desktop Kit with MAX Technology
Matrox MXO2 with Matrox MAX
Matrox MXO2 Rack with Matrox MAX
Hardware Scaling
FCP Dynamic RT acceleration YES YES YES YES
Hardware Downscaling YES YES YES YES
Hardware Upscaling Mac Only
(PC coming)
Cross Conversion Mac Only
(PC coming)
What is the difference between the MXO2 Mini and the RT.X2 for Adobe Premeire Pro editors?
This is a great question and one that we get all the time. The RT.X2 is a real-time hardware accelerator for Adobe Premiere Pro. That means that when you add certain effects, transitions, filters and layers to your timeline, they playback instantly in full resolution and full speed. They do not require any rendering for playback. The RT.X2 was designed primarily for the HDV format. If you shoot HDV it is still a great product for you, especially if you have an older computer.

In a fully loaded Core i7 machine you will find that you can edit HDV footage pretty easily without an RT.X2 and whatever rendering you do need will be minimal. In this case, the MXO2 Mini is the perfect addition to your system to add the I/O you need, including HD monitoring from the Adobe timeline. If you're editing AVCHD the MXO2 Mini with CineForm NeoScene will give you the fastest and most efficient workflow.

Does Matrox RT.X2 accelerate encoding like the MXO2 Mini with MAX?
No it does not. Matrox RT.X2 will give you accelerated encoding to MPEG-2 for DVDs but it does not offer any Blu-ray Disc acceleration. If you are using a faster Core i7 machine and you plan on going from HD to H.264 for Blu-ray Disc, Flash or video on the web, the time you save encoding with MAX technology will be greater than the real-time performance of the RT.X2. Once again, if you shoot HDV and you have an older computer that is not as powerful, adding the RT.X2 is a great way to increase your productivity and make your Premiere Pro CS3 or CS4 editing more efficient.

Can I add MAX technology to my existing NLE solution?
Yes you can. If all you want to do is add accelerated H.264 encoding to your existing Final Cut or Premiere Pro workflow you have two choices. If you want to add I/O or you edit with a Laptop the MXO2 Mini with MAX ($849.95) is a great choice. If you already have I/O or you have a completely tapeless workflow and you do not want I/O, the Matrox CompressHD ($495.00) will work great for you. It is a PCIe card that works in either a PC or Mac and gives you all of H.264 encoding acceleration of the MXO2 Mini with MAX.

Videoguys' Tech Note: Unfortunately the MAX technology is not compatible with Axio or RT.X2 systems. If you are using the one of these cards the MAX technology will not work in that computer. Matrox is aware of this compatibility issue and they are sorry for any inconvenience it causes to loyal customers.

Who should buy the MXO2 Mini?
Anyone and everyone who edits HD footage using Apple Final Cut Pro on the Mac or Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 on Windows! You're not going to find a more valuable or versatile piece of NLE gear. For under $500 you can monitor and output your HD projects in full resolution and you can use the MXO2 Mini for capturing HD footage as well.

For those looking to deliver content via Blu-ray, Flash or web the MXO2 Mini MAX is the perfect choice. You'll save countless hours on your H.264 encoding times without sacrificing an ounce of video quality.

If you are in a broadcast environment and you require additional SDI support, the MXO2 LE, MXO2 and MXO2 Rack are excellent options that deserve your consideration. You'll get the video quality and features matching more expensive gear from BlackMagic and AJA with the added flexibility and portability of Matrox. MAX versions of all of these products are of course also available.

Do the Videoguys offer special bundles with MXO2 Mini & editing software, Blu-ray burners & storage?
OF COURSE WE DO!! Follow this link to check out our fantastic bundle offerings with the MXO2 Mini or MXO2 Mini with MAX with Final Cut Studio, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, CS4 Production Premium, Pioneer BDR-205 Blu-ray Disc burner and G-Tech G-RAID Professional Dual-Drive Storage Systems!