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Matrox have taken a different approach to Thunderbolt connectivity with their I/O products compared to other manufacturers. Instead of building new models with Thunderbolt connectors, the adaptor allows new and existing products to use the superfast technology.

At IBC 2011, Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd announced their solution to bring their products up to date with Thunderbolt connectivity. The Thunderbolt adapter is available for $199 for customers who have an MXO product already. So the point here is you don't have to buy a new Matrox I/O box to enjoy the many advantages Thunderbolt brings. 

The box is cheaper if you are buying an MXO product, it adds $100 to the price. This means that when you buy say an MXO2 Max, the Express Card and PCI Express board versions will retail for $1395 each and the box with the Thunderbolt adaptor will retail for $1495.

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Many customers have to to lug a 17" MacBook Pro around to use an MXO2 as it is the only current model that features an Express Card slot. The adaptor will now allow any Thunderbolted Mac to use an MXO2, so it works with the new MacBook Airs and brings a capture/layoff and monitoring solution to the iMac range. Although it means the device will be at the end of a Thunderbolt chain, there should not be dip in performance even if four other passthrough devices are connected in series.

A slight random thought here, but could a 11" MacBook Air with an MXO2 Mini and LaCie Little Big Disk be the smallest HD edit setup that can capture? The Thunderbolt adaptor is bus powered which means you don't have to carry another wall plug with you or mains cable to lose.

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We didn't realise that the MXO product line supports an output for FCPX. This can only be achieved by mirroring the desktop, a limitation of FCPX not Matrox. The products will of course work with the other edit programs out there, FCP7 Adobe Premiere and Avid. The adaptor with a Matrox MXO2 Mini is the only Thunderbolt qualified device for Media Composer 5.5.

On the FCPX news front, we were pleased to find out that the H264 encoding accelerators that Matrox sell work well with Compressor 4. The app passes frames to the encoder and therefore should keep the output in line with Apple's ColorSync promise of no gamma shifts in the post production chain.