If you look down under the “Categories” listing on the left side of this blog you’ll see the “Useful Tools” category. This is a category that I have long used to post links to interesting software/hardware/products that look like they would be handy in the editor’s toolkit. The tools are usually software, sometimes hardware. On occasion it might be a website or web tool that might make our lives easier. Today’s link isn’t just to a piece of hardware but rather to a link on how best to use it, which I found on the Videoguys site via Twitter.

The tweet, “Matrox MXO2 Mini is the Missing Link in Your Tapeless Editing Workflow: Avid, Adobe and Apple NLE support,” caught my eye, as the Matrox MXO2 Mini really is a useful tool. I clicked over to the link page and the folks at Videoguys, a long-time dealer of editing software and hardware, sum it up well. Sure, they are also selling the MXO2 Mini, but after 25 years in this business, they know a thing or two about what we do and what we need. Check out what they have to say here.

I’ve had one of these units on loan from Matrox for a couple of months to test out its usability and usefulness. I had planned to use it mainly as a monitoring solution for Avid Media Composer, which had blessed the MXO2 Mini as the only certified non-Avid monitoring option with version 5. But after reading the blurb at the Videoguys site, I considered another option. If you have to edit across all of the big three “A” nonlinear editors, the MXO2 Mini really is your only option. It’s not for everyone; it doesn’t offer all of the tape-based I/O options on Media Composer and lacks some of the connections that more expensive video capture cards have. But if all you need to do is monitor your FCP, Avid or Adobe Premiere Pro timelines on an external client monitor, this is the choice. I’m often amazed at how many editors don’t have a client monitor in their edit suite and only view their edit on the computer screen in the NLE’s Canvas/Record Monitor. That’s a mistake; you have to view your edits on a proper client monitor to ensure they have been posted properly. It’s also a mistake to color correct without a proper monitor.

The MXO2 Mini is also quite an affordable option under $500 and includes both HDMI and Component outputs. Add the MAX option for another $400 and you’ve got hardware accelerated H.264 encoding that literally screams when used with Apple Compressor. Because the Matrox MXO2 Mini can support Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro—the only one I personally haven’t seen in action—and gives editors an external reference monitor for editing, all for under $500, it might be one of the most Useful Tools for Editors that I’ve come across yet.