Despite these limitations, the APVe does offer an impressive amount of connection options. Just let me draw a really deep breath….. You can have dual DVI, dual analogue, one DVI with dual analogue, triple analogue, dual analogue with HD or SD output, dual DVI with SD output and finally one DVI with one analogue and HD or SD output.
To help you make the most of all those connection options, Matrox also bundles quite a selection of cables in the box. You get a DVI to DVI and D-SUB cable, a D-SUB to S-Video and composite video cable, a DVI to dual D-SUB cable, a D-SUB to component video cable and a single DVI to D-SUB adapter.
So, what you’re getting with the APVe is amazing flexibility when it comes to video output, but the main benefit is a card that can drive two displays and a high definition video monitor. With a price of £235 including VAT, the Parhelia APVe isn’t going to break the bank either, but for me, the low price is part of the problem.
As I already mentioned, Matrox has carved itself out a niche in the video/graphics market, and the users that buy Matrox cards do so knowing full well that the feature set justifies the cost. So, by pitching the APVe at such a low price point, it seems as if Matrox has been caught between two camps. The kind of video editor that’s looking for a low cost graphics solution with HD output is quite likely to still have a CRT in his setup – much like my friend. While the high-end video editors out there are probably going to be running two high-resolution TFT screens and will want them connected via DVI, even if the price is high.
Ultimately, if you want to run two displays and output HD content to a video monitor the Parhelia APVe will do just that. It does have some limitations, but if you can live with those and work around them, you can put together a great video editing setup that will aid productivity. However, I still feel that Matrox would be better off producing a more expensive product that can handle any combination of displays without compromise.
The Parhelia APVe is a strange beast. I can completely understand what Matrox had in mind when it was designing this card, but in reality it seems to be subject to one or two significant compromises. Obviously those compromises have been made to achieve the keen price point, but I still feel that users in this market would be willing to pay more for a product with a more complete feature set. As it stands, if you want to drive both a CRT and TFT screen while outputting HD content, you can forget it. However, if you have two TFT displays and are willing to drive one of them with an analogue signal, the APVe will let you configure an enviable monitor setup.