Friday, April 16, 2010

First Annual Not-the-NAB Awards

It's the end of NAB and it's also our first annual Not-the-NAB Awards [our lawyers felt it was important to be clear that our awards have nothing to do with the NAB organization-Ed] So now it's time to name the most coveted gadgets - and the biggest disappointments - from this years NAB show.

Biggest Surprise
Rather than a company or product, this award goes to the entire industry for the lack of 3D cameras.
I'm not a 3D fan, but I really thought that someone would announce a consumer level 3D camera at the show. Sure, it would be awfully limited, but was it unreasonable to expect one of the big companies (like Sony or Samsung) to do it?
I also thought Sony would roll out - or hint at - a pro-level 3D camera of some sort but if they did, I missed it [they evidently did, but it didn't get much coverage - Ed]. Instead, Sony hinted at a "cinema" kind of digital camera that looks like a RED competitor.

Biggest Tease Award
No price, no specs, and available sometime next year? Sony's Cinema camera was a big tease.

Biggest Disappointment Award
We all knew the Canon XF300/305 was coming, and it actually lived up to expectations in every category except one; price. Of course, since they'd shown a prototype model and mentioned sensor size and the 4:2:2 color space, really the only thing we didn't know was the price.
The sensor size (1/3"), body configuration and fixed lens all made me think it would be sub $5K, and if it had been, then the 4:2:2 color sampling would have really set it apart from the Sony HXR-NX5U. Unfortunately, at $6,799 it's beyond my budget.
I'm not saying it's a bad camera, or even that it's over-priced - that 4:2:2 will surely give Sony EX1 purchasers pause - but it's not what we were hoping for!

Best New Camera Award
The Canon XF300/305. Surprise!
How did the XF300/305 win the Best New Camera Award, and also score the Biggest Disappointment Award? Maybe they are just lucky?
Or maybe there weren't that many interesting cameras announced at the show? Sure Panasonic and JVC upped the specs on their pro-cameras, but those were hardly startling. And the cameras that were serious challengers - the Panasonic 4/3 camera, and the Sony Cinema camera - are still in prototype or so big a tease, that it's impossible to include them.
But let that not detract from the winner. Take away the price disappointment, or even the fact that this is Canon's first solid-state camera, and the 4:2:2 Color Space is enough of a wow to give them the win.
Now we just have to wait for the reviews.

Still Intriguing Award
Sometimes, when there's a lot of pre-hype for something, the expectations get so high that when it finally arrives you can't help but feel disappointed. That doesn't seem to be the case with Adobe CS5, which was officially announced on Tuesday. I'm still intrigued.
But is it a problem when someone asks you about the new version and all you can talk about is one feature: Content Aware fill?

Best Coverage Award
If you couldn't make it to the show, FreshDV did a great job of providing a taste of the trade-floor madness with their video reports.

Has Promise But Award
The Has Promise But award goes to the gadget or product that intrigues us the most, but also has us wondering whether it will meet our expectations. It's still in prototype, but the Red Rock MicroRemote remains a very cool looking device. Yes, the price doubled from what they had first talked about, but the addition of the iPhone/iPod as a controller more than made up for that in the classic calculation of (increased price - increased coolness = unchanged desire.)
But, there are concerns: will it make the new $1,000 price point, or will it be closer to $2,000 once you add in all the bits? Will it work with the first generation iPod Touch I have lying around, or will it only work with an iPhone 3GS? We have to wait and see.

Most Lustworthy Award
Our final award goes to the one device we'd have put under our jacket and walked out with if we'd had the chance. The Red Rock MicroRemote, Canon XF300 and the Zeiss Compact Prime SP.2 lenses were all in the running, but ultimately the Steadicam Tango wins the award for most lust worthy. Putting a small boom on a Steadicam is such an intriguingly fun idea - and would make it possible to capture shots we couldn't do with anything we have - that it has to be the device of the show! It's a real pity it wouldn't fit under our coat.

[UPDATE 12:45PM] Fixed my XF/FX dyslexia.

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