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Matrox used to be a force to be reckoned with in the performance desktop graphics market, but a few years ago it bowed out of the race and left ATI and nVidia to their own ever spiralling R&D cycles. Meanwhile Matrox has carved itself out a niche market, where product life spans can exceed the few months enjoyed by high-end 3D gaming cards. It’s therefore surprising that I’m looking at the second new Matrox card in as many months – I guess Parhelia cards are like those proverbial busses!
When I say that Matrox carved itself out a niche, there were actually a few niches, and the Canadian company managed to do well in all of them. To be frank though, those multiple niches all complemented each other – producing multi-display graphics cards was obviously a bonus for video editors and worked well with Matrox’s popular video editing solutions. But outside of the video editing arena, Matrox also saw a lot of success in high-end visualisation, where its multi-head cards could be used to drive very high resolution displays such as the ViewSonic VP2290b.
It’s therefore not uncommon to see Matrox cards nestling in many high-end imaging or video editing computers, often with astronomical price tags, but you don’t always have to take out a second mortgage in order to take advantage of Matrox technology.
This latest Matrox card is aimed at the video editor that wants to dip his or her toe in the waters of high definition video. At its base level, the Parhelia APVe is a PCI Express based graphics card with the full Parhelia feature set, incorporating 128MB of video memory, twin DVI outputs and a dedicated S-Video input. So far, so normal, but it’s the range of connection options that makes the APVe special.
Matrox is aiming the APVe at a video editor that already has a dual screen setup, but wants to be able to output HD and SD content to a dedicated video monitor. The APVe will drive dual TFT screens at resolutions up to 1,920 x 1,200 over DVI and still manage to output Standard Definition video to a dedicated monitor. However, if you want to take advantage of the high definition video output, you’re going to have to forsake one of your DVI connections – ultimately leaving you with the option of using two screens via analogue connection or one analogue and one DVI.