S&W: The price is right

Snell & Wilcox will head to NAB with a number of products designed to build on its reputation of quality products with some even designed to fight the perception that the company offers only high-end products.

"Generally speaking, people have the opinion that our products are expensive but good," says Director of Product Marketing Dave Tasker. "We want to educate people through our RollCall network-management solution so they understand that.if they're implemented fully, they can actually be inexpensive but good."

At next month's NAB in Las Vegas, the company will introduce a line of Kudos modules called Kudos Plus, which are intended to offer better price performance. Director of Marketing John Shike says, "We have products like Alchemist, which is a $200,000 standards converter, but we can now provide standards conversion that is motion-compensated and of very high quality but for a much lower price point."

Broadcasters, he adds, demand that products are robust and reliable and offer good service. "For those customers, we've taken some of our products and evolved them to take in other features that allow them to be more comprehensive."

Topping the list of product offerings is the HD 2524 production switcher, designed for live events and studio production. The 2.5 M/E switcher with 24 video/key inputs is available for high-definition and also has an option for switchable HD/SD production. It can also record up to 30 seconds of uncompressed 4:2:2:4 HD and has 20 user-configurable GP I/Os.

Shike says the new switcher offers more-direct access to controls and also has an optional "Skateboard" control interface (available for other switchers, as well). "The HD 2524 has additional controls to get directly to the switcher memories because the operators need one-button fire for those. I think that's going to be popular with broadcasters because we've always supported all the broadcast formats."

Over the years, Snell & Wilcox has built its reputation on standards converters, and, this year, the company will introduce the Premier HD5500 Ph.C. The 10-bit, motion-compensated unit can upconvert 525/625-line standard-definition video signals to HDTV 1.48-Gbit/s output formats. It also supports field-rate standards conversion as part of the upconversion process. The core technology is 4:4:4, 12-bit and has the same subpixel, phase-correlated motion compensation found in Alchemist. "It's also very appropriate for international program exchange because it can move frame rates, meaning, you can take a PAL master and broadcast it in HDTV here in the U.S."

In other HD-related introductions, the company will introduce HD Prefix, a stand-alone preprocessor that supports all current HD formats. Proprietary noise-reduction algorithms have been incorporated to reduce film grain and electronic noise that can lead to visible blocking artifacts. The stand-alone version is priced at $35,000, but modular versions are available, at about $5,000 each.

The Mach 1 standards converter will also be seen at the show. Making its U.S. debut, the converter offers multiformat conversion using a new motion-compensation technology called "motion science." The one-rack-unit converter will be available at less than $50,000.

In the category of aspect-ratio converters, the company is introducing ARC 20:20, which offers input and output blanking, enabling the operator to clean the edges of a picture-a useful capability when, for example, 4:3 material is displayed on a wide-screen set. The converter also includes composite (analog) output for monitoring.