BOXX/Sonic Foundry Professional DV Production System
Fire-Breathing Turnkey DV System Fastest We've Tested So Far

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BOXX and Vegas Video workstation reviewBOXX Technologies and Sonic Foundry have gotten together to bring you a reasonably-priced ($4000) turnkey DV editing system, where you can edit DV, composite video in real time, mix audio, create original audio compositions and output all that to whatever format you desire, including MPEG-2 for DVD production. We took it out for a test drive, revving up its dual Athlon MP 2000+ chips, and were impressed by what happens to Vegas Video 3 when you apply some serious computer power underneath. Here's our review.

BOXX Vegas interior
Click for enlargement -- the interior of the BOXX workstation is nicely laid out.
Our test system was loaded with all of Sonic Foundry's flagship software, including Vegas Video 3.0, a world-class DV editing software package that we've favorably reviewed already (see the review here), the newest version of SF's audio mixing and effects software, Sound Forge 6.0, and Acid Pro 3.0, a music loop creation software package. This baby is loaded, too, with top quality components. You get 1GB of DDR RAM, a 40GB Maxtor system drive that's capable of sustained reading speeds of 38 MB/sec. and sustained writing at 37 MB/sec., and a dedicated drive for your video files, a 120GB IBM Deskstar ATA100 disk that is capable of sustained reads of 43MB/sec. and 40MB/sec sustained writes according to our testing. We've seen faster ATA-100 disks, but these two will both be way faster than you need for DV production. Its dual-monitor NVIDIA Quadro4 550 XGL AGP 64MB graphics card keeps things moving along at a rapid-fire pace, while there are enough FireWire ports (I counted six, including two conveniently placed in the front) to plug in an army of DV devices chained together. All this and more is expertly laid out into a smart-looking case that's all aluminum (see photo). Since we build quite a few machines here at the DMN Midwest Test Facility, we can appreciate the neatness and well-thought-out cable arrangements within the BOXX machine, better for free airflow for those two hot-running Athlon 2000+ horses within. It's also notable that the machine was nice and quiet, especially for an Athlon-based machine, units which tend to go overboard with fans in attempts to keep things running cool. The only complaint we have with the case it that it's too hard to open, with six set-screws that require a tiny Phillips-head to crack open. Why can't computer case makers just take one look at a Mac, which is as easy to open as a car door? Anyway, once we got inside we noticed a nice touch: The machine is truly personalized, with "made for Digital Media Net" on a label inside the box. Nice touch. It's ready for expansion, too, with two more spaces to easily slide in more disks and a hefty 460 watt power supply to handle about any power needs you can throw at it.
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So after poking around inside the well-appointed BOXX, we fired it up. Mildly disappointed to see Windows 2000 instead of Windows XP booting up, we figured that BOXX was going with a known quantity rather than a new whipper-snapper OS like Windows XP, but sheesh, guys, XP has proven itself to be stable by now, not to mention that in our tests it's 10% faster than Win2K, and offers the ability to go back to a previous system config if things go awry. Something bothers me about using an OS that's named for a year that was over and done with more than a year-and-a-half ago. Oh, well. Resisting the urge to do a quick upgrade to Windows XP, we went on with the testing.

First, I wanted to see how the machine ran with Vegas Video 3. It was no surprise to see how well this excellent software worked with this kind of power, having tested Vegas Video with an Athlon 1800+ MP in the past. But it continues to be a thrill to see Vegas Video in action with a hot rod whisking it along. The great thing about Vegas Video is that it'll give you a usable preview of just about anything you stack up on your timeline. Dissolve between two sources, and it shows you that transition in real time, either on the computer monitor, or an external NTSC or PAL monitor. But the previews aren't like the super-smooth hardware-accelerated effects of a DV Storm, for example. Set at "Preview" quality, Vegas will give you a look at a dissolve that runs at about maybe 20 frames per second. That's still good for telling what that transition will look like.

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