Deal Alert: Amazon offering El Gato Camlink for just $89

Hey-ho there neighbor! You might recall some time back I reviewed the little El Gato Camlink, an inexpensive device to allow video capture from HDMI sources to a computer with a USB 3.0 port. Originally offered for $129, Camlink was notable for being about the cheapest way to get that done. Today Amazon’s Gold Box deals include the Camlink for just $89.99.

As I mentioned before, Camlink works well enough, within certain constraints:

  • It can’t scale the video size. If you feed it 1080p the host software on the computer will see only 1080p.
  • It doesn’t have an onboard compression engine. The software that you’re using must be able to handle YUY2 uncompressed video. Not a problem in most cases.
  • It requires a USB 3.0 port. Uncompressed video required big bandwidth, so in most cases the Camlink needs a USB 3.0 port. You might be able to get away with USB 2.0 if your source is SD or 720p30.

At the time it was launched CamLink did not deal with interlaced video. That means that SD or 1080i sources were a problem. I’m told that the company has since solved that problem with a firmware update. I installed the new software, but have not yet scrounged an interlaced source to test that claim.

Most recently, I’ve used it to capture the output of an older GoPro Hero2. It worked flawlessly in that role.

Webcams Where None Should be

It’s as if laptop makers have started playing a little game of hide-the-webcam. In their zeal to offer borderless displays the built-in webcam gets relocated to the most unfortunate places, often with terrible consequences.

Dell XPS

This trend started in 2015 with Dell’s XPS. While the InfinityEdge display was lovely, it forced them to move the webcam from the usual location in the top edge of the display. In their wisdom, Dell put it in the “chin” under the display, and even under the logo. It’s literally right above the keyboard.

xps13_c_3

This location makes for some odd viewing angles. It’s been referred to as the “Nosecam,” which seems appropriate. Others have more specific observations here, here and here.

Tom’s Guide even suggests you use a trick to rotate the webcam video and place the laptop on its side when making video calls.

Continue reading “Webcams Where None Should be”

Splyce: Intel NUC as a Host for vMix

Now that my video production activities are all desktop-based, my habit of handling video crosses paths with my long-standing affection for small form factor computers. For the past year I’ve used a fanless Airtop-PC from CompuLab as my primary desktop workstation. It has shown itself to be a very capable host for vMix, which is my very favorite live video production tool.

In considering the purchase of the Airtop I also looked long and hard at Intel’s NUC line-up. There’s a lot to like about the NUCs. In particular, the Skull Canyon NUC, with it’s i7-6770HQ CPU, presented an attractive price/performance combination. Others in the vMix user community have noted that it runs vMix handily, despite the lack of an nVidia GPU.

Continue reading “Splyce: Intel NUC as a Host for vMix”

What’s in a Name: Monitors – Part 1

Language is a funny thing. Sometimes there are subtleties that have consequences, yet get overlooked. The impact of language can be both subtle, and profound at the same time. As ever, context matters. As an example, I’d like to consider the idea of monitoring and monitors.

This is going to drift from the simple to the not-so-simple, exploring the term across contexts. I’ll start with what I find to be the most straightforward aspect. The visual.

Monitors on my desk

My desktop computer has a pair of 23” LCD monitors made by HP. They’re not fancy. They were a good deal and have lasted me a long while. There’d be no debate or misunderstanding in using the term “monitors” when referencing these displays. The use of term in this context is commonplace and easily understood.

monitors

Incidentally, my twin monitors are quite vintage. I’m seriously considering a new LG 43UD79-B as an upgrade to 4K. Continue reading “What’s in a Name: Monitors – Part 1”

El Gato Cam Link: HDMI Capture on-the-cheap

Earlier this year I replaced by aged desktop computer.  The rather bulky, traditional HP tower was replaced by a fantastic little Airptop-PC. The Airtop is a fanless wonder. It’s powerful, has multiple (six!) monitor outputs, a massive array of ports, and draws a tiny amount of power.

While the Airtop-PC is a silent thing of beauty, what it lacks is the extra PCIe slot necessary to install my Aver Media C127 HDMI capture card. This has left me considering USB-connected HDMI capture devices.

An early experience with the Black Magic Design Ultra Studio has left me with an aversion to their lower-end products. I hear good things about the Magewell USB 3.0 capture dongles. There’s no doubt they’re very capable, but at around $300, also quite costly. Continue reading “El Gato Cam Link: HDMI Capture on-the-cheap”

Forced To Rethink A Long HDMI Cable

A while ago  I bought a new desktop computer. It’s lovely. Shiny. New. Silent. One of its many fine attributes is the fact that it can drive five (!) separate displays. Now, my desk has only two monitors, but it’s not too far to the credenza whereupon sits our old HDTV.

The old beast is an ancient 42” Sharp Aquos. While not pretty, it’s still basically functional. I could not simply discard it. So it sits out here connected to a Tivo Mini, only occasionally used to watch TV.

The new computer presented a new opportunity to put the old TV to use. I ordered a suitably long HDMI cable to make it monitor #3 on the desktop.

It was nice to be able to drag a YouTube window over to the big screen, even making the TV play the computer sound. In fact, it was nice enough that I was considering acquiring another Vizio M Series for the office, when budget allowed. We like the M50-D1 a lot. No hurry though, as the price is sure to fall when new models are launched in Q3.

Continue reading “Forced To Rethink A Long HDMI Cable”