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Matrox MXO2 HD

HD, SD, I/O For Mac By Heath McKnight

Matrox delivers another hardware solution for Mac video users, the portable MXO2 HD (high definition), SD (standard definition) I/O box. No need for a full I/O capture card and/or breakout box, and if you're on a laptop you can finally use an I/O solution without shelling out a few thousand dollars.

If you're using a suite of Mac Pros, you only need one MXO2 box instead of an I/O capture card for each system. I love saving money, and I know several of my colleagues do, as well. If you have two to four Mac Pros and you need a capture card for each one, you're looking at spending anywhere from $600 to $1,500 per system, per card!

Working with the MXO2
I used a late 2008 MacBook Pro 17-inch model for my review (courtesy of Digital Cut, I plugged in the MXO2, then hooked up the PCIe ExpressCard/34 adapter, then plugged in an RS-422 from a BetaCam SP deck to the MXO2, installed the software (download latest versions at, and fired up Final Cut Pro 6.0.x (FCP).

I captured in Apple's codec, ProRes 422 HQ (you'll need, minimum, an Intel Core2 Duo processor running at 2.4Ghz for real-time capture), because I wanted the quality of uncompressed SD video but without the size of the video clips clogging up my FireWire drives. You can capture in uncompressed 8- or 10-bit, but you'll need a RAID.

I launched the Log and Capture window and got to work scanning through a tape, logging my clips, then I set it to batch capture. No problems whatsoever! Once I was done, I was editing and then able to go back to tape when I was finished. I hooked up the MXO2 to an LCD and was able to monitor my work, which is a great advantage. I also was able to easily calibrate the LCD with the blue-only option within the MXO2. I then hooked up both a Sony XDCAM HD (F350) and XDCAM EX (EX1) to the MXO2 to see how it can make my life easier with file-based cameras. Well, I didn't need to have FCP create an intermediate codec when outputting from FCP. With the EX, I could actually log and capture, edit, then output, like it was a tape-based camera. This also works with the SD version of XDCAM, and Panasonic's P2 and P2HD.

Mac Laptop and Desktop Configuration
For the laptop solution, you're going to need a MacBook Pro with a slot for the Matrox MXO2 PCIe host ExpressCard/34 adapter. A MacBook or MacBook Air will not work with the MXO2. For the desktop, you'll need to be using a Mac Pro with a slot for the Matrox MXO2 PCIe host adapter.

A separate RS-422 cable is needed for deck control (BetaSP, HDCAM, DVCPRO, etc.), but a 3-foot long PCIe cable is included. You can use the AC adapter for power or a battery for in-the-field work.

Overview of Features
The MXO2 box is, essentially, an I/O device that you can either hook up to your Mac Pro desktop (via the PCIe host adapter) or MacBook Pro (via the PCIe host ExpressCard/34 adapter), then connect to a video deck, and use the MXO2 box to capture and edit video. It's compatible with Apple's Final Cut Pro and Color pro apps; Adobe After Effects; QuickTime apps that, according to Matrox, support V-out component. I also saw that the upcoming Media 100 Suite for Mac will include support with the MXO2 (
   So how does this compare to similar devices, like AJA's ioHD? For one thing, price: the ioHD costs close to $3,000 while the Matrox MXO2 costs only $1,595. With features, you have multiple I/O ports (input/output):

  • HD/SD analog component
  • Y/C
  • Composite
  • HDMI
  • XLR (5.1 surround sound monitoring)

So when you're capturing your video, be it analog (BetaCam SP, Hi-8, VHS, etc.), digital (DVCPRO, DVCAM, DV, etc.), or HD (HDCAM, DVCPRO HD, etc.), what kind of codecs can you use? Quite a few, and it opens up your editing options:

  • Apple ProRes 422/HQ
  • 8- and 10-bit Uncompressed HD/SD

Other features include:

  • Genlock
  • Monitoring and calibration controls, including blue-only (ensures accurate color bar calibration on a monitor)
  • Matrox MAX, which encodes H.264 up to three times faster
  • Support for RED
  • File-based formats, such as XDCAM/HD/EX and P2/HD
  • HD-SDI closed captioning support
  • Hardware acceleration
  • Upscale or downscale your footage upon capture

Other MXO Boxes

There are other MXO boxes besides just the MXO2: the MXO2 Mini, MXO2 Rack, and the original MXO (which is only a monitoring solution). To see which one best suit my needs, I downloaded a comparison PDF from Matrox's website:

I am a big fan of the Matrox MXO box, which is strictly for monitoring (read my review : ), and I've been hoping to see Matrox create an I/O device to compete with companies like AJA and Blackmagic Design. The MXO2 is that device, and it's powerful yet lightweight, portable, and very easy-to-use. It costs only $1,595, which is a fantastic price. Find out more at

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:video editing, HD, SD , video I/O, NLE

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