Byline: Tom Patrick McAuliffe
I walked into the office of a potential client, flipped open my case, and pulled out a flat 5in. LCD and the small DVD player and burner. I hooked it up and played back pristine DVD video. “Who are you, and what is that?” asked the secretary. “Bond, James Bond,” I said with a sly smile, “and this is the new 007!” Digital Peripheral Systems’ new Que!007 portable DVD burner and digital theater had impressed its audience. The device may very well become a secret weapon for videographers, especially road warriors who need a small device that can play or record just about anything, anywhere.
Weighing less than 1.5lbs. and battery-operated, there’s also almost nothing the Que!007 cannot do with respect to playing and recording DVDs, CD-ROMs, and CDs in many formats and backing up a computer’s data as an optical storage device. With a modern chic design, the Que!007 (also known as the 007 PDR) is PC or Mac compatible and comes with a nice set of bundled software to get you started authoring DVDs or creating audio CDs (including MedioStream’s NeoDVD 4.0, NeoPlayer 6.0, NTI CD&DVD Maker 6.0, and Dragon Burn 2). And whether you’re using it as a standalone device or with a computer, you may think it’s the best-kept secret in the video industry. Until recently I had never heard of it or the company, but being the gadget junkie that I am, all it took was one look, and I had to have it.
The 007 uses all standard media, writes CD-Rs at 24X, performs a 10X rewrite, and is a 24X reader/player that, by today’s standards, is a little slow, but it gets the job done nicely. Setup was easy, and there’s a clearly written manual to guide you, although it is plagued with typos. If you run into trouble, 90 days of free tech support is included, but after that users must contact the software manufacturers directly.
A small button on the back allows switching between the standard audio and video out and a fairly fast IEEE 1394/FireWire interface (1.2MBps sustained) for playback or recording. It supports full DVD menu setup and navigation and also SmartZoom pan and scan, 16:9 letterbox conversion, and recording in NTSC or PAL. In case you get lost, the 007 has a nice bright LCD that shows almost all of its function settings.
The 007 also has a great 36-key infrared remote that can control every feature. It has a unique optional suction-cup mounting system and a belt clip that can provide nearly hands-free operation while in motion. Even though I knocked it around a bit, I never had a problem as it has great shock and skip protection with a 2MB buffer. Another cool feature is the included rechargeable NiCad batteries that are also the unit’s handles and allow about 2 hours of in-the-field operation, depending on the demands placed on the unit. To my knowledge this is the only solution on the market today that provides battery-operated functionality, although at press time I heard rumors that NAB 2004 would provide some new competition.
I used the 007 not only as a portable DVD player to play videos back to clients, but also as a in-the-field DVD recorder. I recorded a video of a surfing competition on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii (a rough job, but somebody’s got to do it). Surfers from around the world were there for only two or three days before scattering to the four winds. More important, there were lots of surf equipment sponsors with whom these athletes wanted to land endorsement contracts, so it was important to provide some instant gratification in the way of a promo DVD as requested.
After I had caught the thrills and spills of the big waves with an underwater housing and a Sony VX1000 DV camera, I digitized the selected highlights to the hard drive on my laptop and added some titles and a little rock music for background. After a basic edit, I burned a DVD with the 007, hooked it up to a small TV, and showed the handiwork to the dripping clients. Upon approval, I burned several DVDs for them before they departed paradise.
Later, I also did some audio CD work with the 007 with great results. The 007 supports the newer Dolby/DTS digital two-channel downmix, Dolby Pro Logic, and Sensaura 3D virtual surround sound formats as well as general 24-bit, 96kHz audio recording. It also has simultaneous S/PDIF and analog (RCA) audio output, which is handy if, for example, you want to roll out to an analog cassette tape and a DAT recorder.
As impressed as I was with the 007 unit, there was only one major and puzzling disappointment (seems like there really is no such thing as a perfect video device), something that may cause you to look elsewhere or wait for technology to advance. I was surprised to find that while I could record a DVD in realtime from my DV camera, I also had to have a PC or Mac laptop computer hooked up to the unit to do so. This is, in my opinion, a major shortcoming and an unnecessary one given the current state of DVD-R technology. What I am looking for is a portable DVD recorder that connects to a FireWire camera and records directly to DVD, just as with raw videotape and a VTR. When examined from this perspective, the 007 is only a half measure but still a great one at what it does. For someone who does not have a DVD recorder already installed in a laptop or desktop computer, it can be a good choice given this one caveat.
As an all-in-one, small, portable, battery-operated device the, DPS Que!007 is a solution that’s hard to equal, and although a bit expensive as compared to a Apple Super Drive or Sony VAIO DVD recorder, it’s very attractive and functional. I found the product a little difficult to find, so check the DPS website for a dealer near you, but even then you may have to special order. That may be because it has many different names – Que!007, the 007 PDT (portable digital theater) or PDR. Further, the QPS logo stands for “Quality, Performance, Service,” according to the manual, but in some places that is also listed as the company name. Consequently, it may be a little tough to track down. But no matter what they may call it, for some video and audio creators, especially those who take their services on the road, it’s a solution whose time has come. At almost $600 the product may be a little overpriced, but if you need the portability and already have a laptop computer, it may just be the secret weapon you’re looking for.
Tom Patrick McAuliffe is a journalist, entertainer, and video creator. Reach him at www.videosystems.com .
Company: Digital Peripheral Solutions Anaheim, Calif.; (714) 998-3440 www.qps-inc.com
Product: DPS Que!007
Assets: Portable; plays and records almost every DVD, CD-ROM, and CD format.
Caveats: Needs a computer to be fully functional, somewhat expensive and a little slow compared to other similar solutions.
Demographic: Mobile videographers and audio pros.
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