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Fits seamlessly into any production department's work flow with little to no downtime By Kevin McAuliffe

O.K.  Maybe I'm a little biased toward AJA products. That's because the company consistently makes high quality, affordable products that are used for a wide range of applications. Whether you are capturing DV converted from SDI or uncompressed HD, AJA has the product for you. In fact, at NAB, the company just announced the AJA IoHD, a $3495 HD/SD solution that is expected to ship in July 2007. For this review, I'm taking a look at AJA's Io SD-SDI to F400 breakout box. Let's see how it stacks up!

AJA Front

What You Get

At two rack units high, the unit easily fits into any rack, and in most cases, will go completely unnoticed. As for inputs into the unit, you not only get the standard RS-422 (for machine remote), as well as Genlock, but on the video side you get 10-bit uncompressed SD-SDI, S-video, composite and component I/O's and on the audio side you get four channel AES/EBU I/O, four channel balanced/unbalanced (XLR) inputs and four channel balanced outputs (XLR), eight channel optical audio I/O, eight channel balanced audio monitor outs and 8 channels embedded in the SDI, and to top it all off, you get an audio word clock connector (BNC) for audio synchronization. For standard definition work on a laptop or iMac where you have no choice but to look for an external breakout box instead of an internal card, this box has everything you could possibly need. What You Get: 10 (out of 10)

Rear of Io


You probably won't find an easier installation than AJA's Io breakout box. Once you have your I/O's connected (we'll say for argument sake you have SDI I/O, Genlock and RS-422 control connected at the back), simply plug in your FireWire to your CPU, and into the Io, and that's all the hardware installation that is required. As for software installation, simply pop in the disc that AJA supplies with the box, double click on the application, and in five minutes you will be up and running. Installation: 10 (out of 10)

Ease of Use

As you can see from the above Easy Setup, once you have the software installed, things couldn't be more straightforward.  Using the main "AJA Io-NTSC US SDI A-V 8 Bit to DV" as my reference for the purposes of this article, once you have selected it, it is smooth sailing. I had absolutely no problems with capturing SDI video/audio and remote control on the input and output, and I never had to refresh the Io or restart Final Cut Pro due to any communication problems. This was one of the smoothest capture cards I've used, and I had not one problem with any step of the process. This box would fit seamlessly into any production department's work flow with little to no downtime. Ease of Use: 10 (out of 10)


This unit is the cream of AJA's crop for external SD capture on Final Cut Pro. For some, the unit might be overkill, as it has pretty much every connection (component, composite, SDI, S-video) that you could ever need. If you are debating about whether or not you would need all that the Io has to offer, you may want to check out AJA's LA breakout box, which has all the analog inputs (composite, component and S-video) or AJA's LD breakout box, featuring SD-SDI inputs only. Both products are about half the price of the Io. One big downside for me is the price. At about $2300 U.S., there really is no incentive for me to choose this unit over the LA or the LD unit. I think AJA might be able to move more of these units if they put them at the $1800 to $2000 U.S. price mark. Downsides:  7 (out of 10)
Final Score: 9.25 (out of 10)

The AJA Io is an excellent product that will handle anything and everything that standard definition can throw at it. It's perfect for the editors on the go, who have mobile edit suites, and never know what type of signal they will need to capture. I want to thank Bert Silva (, Senior Sales Rep, at On the Go Technologies for allowing me to demo the AJA Io, and if you are an editor or production house in Toronto, Ontario and are looking for a reseller for all your Apple needs, check them out. They are definitely one of the best.

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at

Related Keywords:AJA io, video capture SD video capture, video editing, video hardware

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