Blackmagic Design readies latest high-performance camera

Filmmakers have a new high-performance camera to use on their projects.

For filmmakers, videographers and other professionals who work with video media, only the most sophisticated tools will do. Video capture technology has made some significant advancements in recent years, allowing users to enhance the quality and clarity of their content beyond anything witnessed in previous decades. High-definition video has become so prevalent among various medias that consumers expect a certain level of quality regardless if the creator is a famous director with the backing of a major studio or a self-financed indie filmmaker. These circumstances inevitably place more pressure on video media professionals with limited resources to make the most of their assets and effectively allocate their funding. It likely comes as welcome news then that the latest high-performance camera from Blackmagic Design will launch at a lower price point than initially thought.

It has been widely reported that Blackmagic Design's Production Camera 4K model is now available on the manufacturer's website with a price tag of $2,995. Officials from the company have reduced the initial cost of the product approximately 25 percent since it was first announced in 2013. Writing on his Stark Insider blog, tech industry veteran Clinton Stark noted that the drop in price may be an attempt to stay competitive with a forthcoming camera set to be released by Panasonic. By getting a jump on its competition, Blackmagic Design stands poised to take advantage of the market's demand for high-quality video capture features from their cameras.

"One of the guiding principles behind Blackmagic is to give a filmic look to digital capture," Stark wrote. "In particular, the company has quickly become known for its ability to provide 12 stops of dynamic range (with all models, including the Pocket Cinema Camera, Cinema Camera, and Production Camera 4K). This feature results in footage this less contrasty (for lack of a better expression), and provides more detail in the blacks – results that most filmmakers lust after."

​Benefits of high-performance video capture
Blackmagic Design's products have garnered similarly rave reviews from video professionals and journalists alike. USA Today tech columnist Jefferson Graham recently shared his satisfaction with his Blackmagic product, explaining that he is now able to capture raw video for greater clarity. He noted that digital single-lens reflex cameras compress video files, inhibiting image quality for that type of content. Although Graham conceded that traditional DSLRs may create crisper images straight away, Blackmagic Design's cameras offer a higher overall ceiling. With the right tools and know-how, users can tweak their videos to be much more dynamic, resulting in a more cinematic feel.

Stark highlighted several features in Blackmagic's latest offering that are sure to further entice video media professionals, including global shutter, Super 35 sensor, CinemaDNG recording and SSD storage. SSD drives are vital to making the most of Blackmagic's line of sophisticated cameras. Without a reliable and high-performance SSD in place, video media professionals will not be able to effectively capture the raw video that distinguishes Blackmagic products from other available options.

Prospective Blackmagic Designs adopters should be sure that their selected SSD drive has the performance and durability to reliably aid their video capturing needs without incident. While there are some off-the-shelf SSDs that have been certified for Blackmagic Design use, not all of these options are up to the task of shouldering a professional's raw video workload, leading to subpar performance. DIGISTOR's Professional Video Series SSD has been crafted from the very beginning to work flawlessly with Blackmagic's technology. Right out of the box, users will have a solid state drive that is entirely compatible with Blackmagic's exFAT format, eliminating the possibility of an arduous and painstaking setup process. For filmmakers and videographers who demand the highest level of performance from their equipment, DIGISTOR'S Professional Series SSDs represent the premiere solution for their data storage needs.

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Car companies, owners benefit from SD card-enabled navigation systems

Drivers can upload new mapping information to their on-board navigation systems with SD cards.

It wasn't that long ago that the American auto industry was in dire straits. In the fourth quarter of 2008, automakers reported job losses nearing 150,000. With revenues dropping, concerns grew that even the sector's giants such as Ford, Chrysler and General Motors could close down operations for good. However, keen business decisions and the intervention of the federal government helped car companies right the ship and increase their productivity. At least a portion of this upswing may be attributed to the concerted effort to target consumers outside of the United States, particularly those residing in the developing world. According to research released by the White House, vehicle exports to China increased 39 percent between January and May 2010 over the same period from the previous year. These transactions represented an additional $35.5 billion in sales for the automotive industry.

Car companies will have to stay focused on delivering high-quality products that meet consumer needs in order to maintain this rate of success. Car drivers expect their new purchases to feature highly sophisticated accessories from the outset. For instance, more manufacturers are packaging navigation equipment into their vehicles, allowing customers to quickly and easily get directions to their destination or find nearby restaurants, gas stations or hotels. With this technology, drivers can rest easy knowing they won't get lost when venturing into new territory.

Bankrate contributor Kamil Skawinski noted that navigation systems could significantly enhance the value of a vehicle, making them an ideal investment for both car sellers and owners to consider. However, Skawinski also explained that many consumers prefer to explore their options in the aftermarket instead of having this technology included in a car package. According to Peter MacGillivray, vice president of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, some of the hardware supplied by auto manufacturers cannot provide the same level of functionality and convenience as these aftermarket products.

SD cards improve navigation system performance
In order to compete with these third-party devices, car companies should focus on improving the quality of their own navigation systems and making them more responsive and reliable. One of the major benefits to this technology is that drivers can upload and store map data with the help of a quality SD card. Edmunds contributor Doug Newcomb explained that users can update their system's mapping information by simply inserting an SD card loaded with this information into their console. By diligently keeping their navigation equipment up to date, drivers can avoid running into problems with incomplete or inconsistent maps.

Newcomb also stated that while some navigation systems keep mapping data stored on a hard-disk drive, this information can become outdated over the years. In addition, HDDs operating on magnetic discs will not always be able to access information as quickly as desired due to the technology's physical limitations. The drives' read/write heads must move into position to reach the correct point on the disc platter in order to copy or launch data, often leading to sluggish performance.

Flash memory facilitates quick launch times
SD cards, meanwhile, are not faced with such issues since they run on state-of-the-art NAND flash memory. Car manufacturers and owners alike can benefit from leveraging industrial-grade SD card technology. The combination of high-quality performance and durability offered by these devices can improve the functionality and usefulness of a vehicle's navigation system. Panasonic's line of industrial-strength SD cards, for instance, routinely reach data read speeds of 95 MB/s, allowing drivers to quickly launch their mapping information whenever needed. And with features such as static wear leveling and automatic data refresh, these SD cards have the resilience needed to ensure data remains intact and available for the long haul.

Because this hardware houses such delicate information, it's important that manufacturers take their time choosing the right SD card that will provide the greatest value. A key step in the purchasing process is finding a vendor with the know-how to answer any questions and help guide them to the most apt product. This is especially important with SD cards, given the many finer points of NAND flash memory that need to be considered. DIGISTOR personnel have the experience to address any questions or concerns vehicle owners may have about SD cards, clearing up any lingering confusion and ensuring that customers feel confident in their purchase.

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Choosing between tapes, SSD and Blu-ray storage capabilities

SSDs and Blu ray media have significantly more benefits than tape storage.

For some time, organizations and other storage users have argued over the best way to back up files and how to preserve data for long-term archival and restoration needs. As the technology shifts, the debate also has adjusted to discuss the benefits and limitations of each option as well as the security and reliability that the systems can offer. However, for storage that will last well into the future, tapes, SSD drives and Blu-ray media remain the top contenders able to provide the capacity and functionality that users will require. While these possibilities keep adjusting to current trends, businesses must consider how to use the hardware effectively and what system would provide the most benefits.

Tapes have been used for numerous years in the face of increasing scrutiny regarding their effectiveness, but there are still many organizations that are utilizing this storage method because it's what they are familiar with. However, tapes are quickly becoming outdated with the advancing capabilities of SSDs and Blu-ray devices. StorageCraft technical marketing manager Steven Snyder noted that some of today's SSDs have more capacity than other disk drives and tape solutions while also being smaller in physical size. The fact that SSD drives also don't have power requirements and moving parts like legacy drives also makes them a valuable asset to companies. The significant speed increases of SSDs make them an overall better, cost-effective choice for the organization and will provide more benefits for users in the long run.

"I realize that there are still advantages with tape when it comes to large volume backups and the ability to physically move the backup media to an offsite location," Snyder wrote. "But even with these advantages it seems that backups to disk (and dare I say to the cloud?) have so many more advantages."

Transcending tape limitations
In many organizations, tapes have been exceedingly helpful for a number of years, but the hardware has long outlived its usefulness. Tapes have a significantly smaller space allocation for files than SSDs and Blu-ray discs and the process of backing up to tapes is more arduous. However, Blu-ray media has several advantages over the legacy equipment that will allow users to leverage the system for years in the future. In an interview with TechTarget, storage industry expert Ian Lock noted that one of the main disadvantages of tapes is the overall reliability as the hardware relies on many moving parts which can be affects by dust and other environmental factors. The tape drives are also considerably slower than Blu-ray discs as they take several minutes to load before data can be read from them. 

"Tape drives also start and stop a lot as the data stream from the backup server comes and goes," Lock said. "All this causes wear and tear in a typical tape-based backup environment and explains why reliability levels can seem to drop steeply in busy environments after three years."

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Netflix issues demonstrate the value of Blu-ray based media

Issues with Netflix streaming show that Blu-ray media is more beneficial to viewers.

Video streaming has become a popular method for binge watchers to receive their shows and various movies. However, this approach is quickly becoming unfeasible due to the rising costs and the decreasing stream quality. Netflix in particular has been hit hard with a variety of bad connections and inconsistent delivery while continuing to raise the prices for its services. With the subject of net neutrality hanging in the air, Netflix and other streaming users may find it more beneficial to use Blu-ray movies instead, which will provide a significantly better experience and unlimited replay value. To fully understand the benefits of the Blu-ray option, it's essential that the Netflix issues are explored first to show what effect various changes will have on its users.

Netflix has always had issues streaming over ISP connections due to a variety of factors, but the demands for the service can also overload the servers and affect performance speeds. At the end of December 2013, Netflix had an outage that affected users in the United States, Canada and Latin America, and originally had no time frame for when the site would be back up, Slash Gear reported. While the provider stated that the problems had been fixed about an hour after the outage occurred, many users continued to have issues connecting to their profiles. This development is significant as many subscribers use the program to binge watch seasons of their favorite shows and movies. With the outage, this viewing experience was effectively interrupted and preventing users from accessing their content.

As the bandwidth capacity overflows with demands, the servers will react with lower resolution streaming and slower processing times, which will further frustrate users. Investing in Blu-ray based media will ease the irritation and provide a much more dependable viewing option rather than dealing with bandwidth complications and lagging speeds..

Net neutrality rulings pose further problems
One of the biggest considerations going before the Supreme Court has been the issue of Net neutrality. Essentially, many Internet service providers are currently making it so that streaming services like Netflix run at sub-optimal speeds over their Internet connections. Organizations like Comcast do this in order to entice users to choose their viewing services instead. However, Net neutrality would make all ISPs treat online services equally, meaning that streaming providers like Netflix would provide speeds that users are expecting, according to the Associated Press. The court's ruling wasn't in favor of total neutrality, opting instead to allow services like Netflix to pay the ISPs for premium quality streaming. Depending on how much high-definition content is being viewed, Netflix could be billed $144 million to $1 billion annually for streaming its content over ISP networks. This is especially critical as the application accounts for 15 percent of residential broadband use in the U.S. alone. With the mounting costs for ISP quality, Netflix may be forced to raise user subscription fees, which could result in a loss of customers.

"Netflix Inc. could still refuse to pay if the cable and telecommunications companies selling most of high-speed Internet access demand more money," according to the source. "But that option would risk diminishing the quality of Netflix's video streaming to the frustration of its 31 million U.S. subscribers who pay $8 per month for the service."

As the Olympics near the horizon, one of the most watched events around the world, Netflix is expected to take an additional hit in the near future. While the future is still uncertain for streaming applications, users will find more benefits using Blu-ray media for the watching needs. Blu-ray provides users with constant accessibility and reliable quality, which is more than can be said for streaming services.

"But nothing is exactly as it seems, particularly in the new frontier of streaming video," according to The Oklahoman. "While Netflix stock took a slight hit on the news of the ruling, the story of Net neutrality is probably not over."

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SugarSync, others herald the demise of free storage options

SugarSync and many others are closing their free storage options.

Storage has become an essential asset in both the consumer environment and the workplace as people become more reliant on their data for their everyday tasks. Users need to be able to access their documents and important files on a regular basis from virtually anywhere and this demand is quickly increasing. Many providers have responded by offering free or low-cost storage space to their subscribers, but this effort is quickly becoming infeasible and many of these inexpensive products are quickly vanishing. Organizations like SugarSync are getting rid of their free options, leaving some clients to search for other viable storage means.

SugarSync has long been a popular online solution for storage space, but it will soon begin a paid-only delivery model, effectively removing a service for many users. TechCrunch noted that current account holders with the free plan will still be able to access their documents for a certain amount of time and will be given up to a 75 percent discount for their storage space. The move stands as a play by the provider to strengthen its game and create a solid financial position for further growth in the near future.

"There are many companies in this space that are giving away free storage, however, most of these companies will not be viable. We are already in a solid financial position and this shift will further strengthen our business," SugarSync CEO Mike Grossman told TechCrunch.

The free tier will close on Feb. 8, and users can sign up for trials before having to pay for their subscription. The lowest tier now stands at nearly $75 a year for 60GB of space, which could help with backup and syncing needs, but for many organizations, this option will run out of room quickly, according to Engadget. However, opting for on-site, disc-based data archiving solutions will be more inexpensive and reliable in the long run and will allow owners to use the hardware as much as they want for writing and re-writing their essential information. Many of these solutions will also provide more space at a more cost-effective price. As the free tiers of many organizations continue to be closed, it will be important for businesses and other users to consider other storage options.

The danger of the free tier
Free tiers look to be so enticing for many people, especially when they're on a strict budget or only need to store a few items. However, there are several providers that are closing their free options, making it necessary to look for additional possibilities. In many cases, free solutions do not provide the security that many users will need to protect their critical assets. Because the organization does not receive any payment from the free segment, it's making them less likely to save the option or to keep the subscribers in this tier happy. CITEWorld contributor Nancy Gohring noted that providers like LogMeIn and YouSendIt are also changing their storage options, making their constituents pay for their services. While LogMeIn is following the path of SugarSync, YouSendIt got rid of its middle pricing tier, meaning that users will either have to settle for very little space at no cost or pay for unlimited storage. In each case, there has been significant backlash from the subscribers, but the providers maintain these moves as a business advancement. With all of these changes, using a free solution has become riskier as more vendors close down their systems to enforce more a substantial revenue flow.

As more online storage vendors close down their cheap or free options, people can invest in high-quality physical drives to back up hosted data. With a reliable archiving tool in place, users can rest easy knowing their critical files will be readily available in the event that their cloud vendor abruptly puts a stop to service delivery.

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Keep ATMs running effectively with high-quality SD cards

A malfunctioning ATM could lead to a surge in customer churn rates for banking organizations.

The automated teller machine has become a cornerstone of consumer banking operations, allowing customers to withdraw money from their accounts long after their branch has closed for the day. The convenience offered by these kiosks has reshaped expectations regarding the availability of banking services. When these machines go offline or malfunction in any way, valued customers may be prevented from accessing their funds. These types of service disruptions are not only embarrassing for a financial institution, but could also adversely affect its long-term viability as a business.

Because ATMs are connected with every users' account information across the entire banking network, any equipment errors could have far-reaching consequences. For instance, when a kiosk in Delaware malfunctioned and spit out $1,800 to a local college student, it may have seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime stroke of luck. However, what that person did not know was that the dispensed money had been erroneously withdrawn from another member's account. The New York Daily News reported that the matter was eventually resolved, but only after the student returned the ill-gotten funds to his local branch.

Other equipment problems can cause even further frustration for bank customers. When two Colorado bank customers, including single mother Kaitlin Boyer, attempted to deposit cash into the same ATM last year, the kiosk failed to add the proper amounts to each account. According to NBC affiliate KOAA, the financial institution worked with the two individuals to alleviate the problem, but those customers had to get by on limited funds in the meantime.

"Eventually the bank was able to figure out what money belonged to whom, but because Boyer only had a rough idea of how much cash she was missing it took several days to get the problem resolved," the news outlet stated. "As a single mother and nursing student, those days without funds were more than inconvenient. … This problem isn't specific to one bank; an ATM at any bank could malfunction"

Considering the severity of the issue she encountered, Boyer was pretty understanding, telling the source that she would continue to be a customer at the bank regardless of the inconvenience caused by the incident. However, not all individuals will react in such a positive manner; many would opt to take their business to a competitor instead of giving the institution another chance.

The high cost of customer churn
Customer churn has long been a concern in the banking industry, but the issue has become more pressing in the aftermath of the most recent economic crisis. People have scrutinized their financial service providers more closely in recent years as more stories emerge chronicling poor or even fraudulent activities committed by banks. According to a report released by analytics firm Attensity, many organizations have exacerbated attrition issues by introducing a bevy of new charges including ATM fees. Together, these factors have created conditions within the financial services industry conducive for customers to jump ship at a moment's notice. The study reported that one major banking enterprise expected to see as many as 60 percent of its clientele pursue other financial services options within a 12-month span.

It's a well-known fact among business leaders that it costs more for organizations to bring in new customers than to simply retain existing clientele. Depending on the size of an operation, losses attributed to customer churn may vary. According to a Financial Publishing Services white paper, reducing attrition rates can increase a bank's net profits as much as 80 percent.

Keep equipment running optimally
With customers primed to see if the grass is truly greener, bank officials should take every recourse to ensure that they are providing the highest quality service possible. A key part of these efforts will be maintaining functional and reliable banking equipment, including ATMs. This equipment is extremely sensitive, so it's imperative that each individual component is running properly. In particular, a kiosk's data storage device should be durable and capable of handling large workloads for a number of years without needing to be replaced.

Panasonic's industrial-strength SD cards are the perfect solution to keeping critical banking equipment operating without experiencing any service disruptions. These devices offer a variety of advanced features to ensure they continue functioning as needed. Static wear leveling, for instance, reduces the wear-and-tear inflicted on any one data block, dispersing workloads across the entire device and maximizing its shelf life. In addition, Panasonic technicians have developed a unique algorithm to prevent sudden power failures from damaging the contents of these assets. This protection covers both data that is currently being written and information that has already been stored on the device. The cumulative result of these features is a durable, high-quality tool that will continue performing optimally for years to come.

When investing in such a critical component, financial organizational leaders should seek out the assistance of a trusted vendor. There are a number of form factors, compatibility issues and other factors that may affect the performance of an SD card. As a premiere distributor of Panasonic's industrial-grade SD cards, DIGISTOR has the know-how to help guide its customers to the right solution.

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