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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old January 6th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #1
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Sony Paranoia Run Amok: One Reason Not to Buy a Z1

Just off the phone from a sequence of three days on Sony's support number, trying to find out why their nicest camcorder will not connect via iLink with their nicest HDTV set.

After all, what could be more logical? I wanted to show my clients their HDV productions on Sony’s KDS-R60XBR1, a 1920x1080 60" HDTV getting glowing reviews. 8 inputs including composite, S-video, HD component analog, HDMI, VGA and iLink (firewire). Stunning picture at a stunning price.

Before parting with the better part of five grand for the set, I thought I'd better try this out first.

So, at a local dealer I plugged in my Z1 to the jack marked "DV/HDV" and found the following: camera was recognized as HVR-Z1U, time code numbers rolled on-screen, and machine control data correctly displayed the camera's transport modes.

But no picture. Black as a lump of coal. Neither HDV nor downconverted DV worked.

The same Z1 fed SD fine into a Mitsubishi 1080P set's firewire input.

I know I could use component inputs and skip the whole issue. But they’re on the back of the set, while the iLink jack sits there alluringly available on the front, begging for an HDV signal with no D/A conversions.

Lemme see: a five grand camcorder should talk to a five grand screen, both made by Sony (no baloney). But this time there was baloney…lots of it.

*****

Called Sony. Got bounced from department to department, both overseas and domestic. Finally ended up with somone possessing reasonable intelligence.

He said "the Z1 is a professional camcorder. It uses 'different files' than the FX1 and it will not work on a consumer TV. Buy an FX1 and it should work."

Files? Since when is a firewire data stream a "file?"

"Ahhh, there may be copyright issues preventing the data transfer."

I responded that their HDTV sets only use iLink as an input...there is no digital output from HDTV reception. How can there be copyright issues with a display device? Anyway, if that is the problem, why does the FX1 work?

“Ahh……”

I asked him, "On the face of it, isn't it silly that Sony's best HDV camcorder can't talk to Sony's best (affordable) HD set? Why have the set recognize the camera at all if you intend to block its pictures?"

The reply? "You'll have to get our prosumer camcorder to see your pictures on that set. Since you have a professional product, buy one of our professional monitors to see it."

I said, "I don't believe there is an equivalent 60" display product in the pro line."

He said, "I wouldn't know. Talk to our professional department for more information."

I said I had already done that and had been transferred to Home Theater to solve the problem.

Then I insisted on being sent to their "higher support level." After another 15 minutes on hold, someone answered. Rather than blow smoke, the new guy said he'd have to research this and get back in an hour. I thanked him and hung up.

An hour passed. Nothing.

*****

Two days later, Todd from Sony calls back. “I have news, but it’s not good news.”

Seems Sony’s tech bigwigs built their hot new HDTV set to sense a Z1 but then nuke its picture. That’s right: their intention is to tease a viewer by flashing HVR-Z1U on the screen but then reward his desire to proclaim Sony’s glory by displaying an inky black rectangle.

They will not let a Business and Professional Products device talk digitally with a consumer device. And that’s that. Get used to it. Or else take your marbles and go home.

So I’d have to buy a "consumer" Sony HDV camcorder if I want to show clients their Z1 productions via iLink.

Anybody wanna sell an FX1 cheap?


Dave McCallister
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Old January 6th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McCallister
They will not let a Business and Professional Products device talk digitally with a consumer device. And that’s that. Get used to it. Or else take your marbles and go home.
Well that is a little surprising, but seems like the above quote pretty well summarizes your options. Personally I wouldn't let this affect my decision of whether or not to buy a Z1 but it might affect my decision as to whether I should buy that TV...
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Old January 6th, 2006, 01:13 PM   #3
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I'll do even better for you, I'll trade you my FX1 for your Z1. hehehe
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Old January 6th, 2006, 01:44 PM   #4
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I'll keep the Z1, thank you, and learn to live with viewing via component analog.

I am going to corral Sony at NAB and ask for something resembling a rational reason for this kind of marketing strategy, one in which there is no pro product to protect. The response should be enlightening.

As to Boyd's comment on what TV to buy: the problem is that the KDS-R60XBR1 blows away everything else in the store. If there was a viable alternative, I'd take it, but I doubt anybody else can handle Sony's HDV via firewire.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 02:08 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Dave McCallister]I'll keep the Z1, thank you, and learn to live with viewing via component analog.

So you were able to watch it via the component connection? How did it look?

One consolation might be that viewing via the component connection would be closer to what the customer would eventually see anyway. Thus showing them a demo via component would be a more accurate demo.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 02:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McCallister
I am going to corral Sony at NAB and ask for something resembling a rational reason for this kind of marketing strategy...
Why ask for a rational explanation when it was apparently just a stupid decision made by someone who doesn't know any better? Chalk it up to poor management from a company which has made some pretty bad management decisions lately, and move on...

P.S. If you do talk to them, how about suggesting that they put a set of component inputs on the front of their HDTVs? That would be an alternative useful solution to the problem.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 03:35 PM   #7
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(to Dave Lammey) The component analog looked wonderful. Just stay back several feet so the MPEG artifacts don't ruin your day. I wanted to see if iLink might reduce any of this by avoiding the A-D and D-A conversions.

Seeing your HDV five feet wide at 1920x1080 is humbling. Makes you wish you had the really big bucks camera. Makes you want uncompressed acquisition so bad you can taste it.

Clients will eventually use HDMI equipped BluRay or HD-DVD players to watch our stuff digitally, right?

(to Kevin Shaw) Point well taken. Some Sony bureaucrat probably made the call. Maybe too much Saki that day. I too wish there were front component inputs on the SXRD's. It's quite a pain to get to the back of a 66" wide set to plug in those RCA's.

I'll probably buy the SXRD anyway and rig up a set of male-female RCA's dangling in front of the set so I can plug in the HVR-M10U for the clients.

Thank you both for your helpful insights.


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Old January 6th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #8
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Sony is so notorious for this type of thing that it just adds to my list of reasons for never buying their admittedly spectacular products. There always seems to be a catch with that company. Please dear God let BlueRay lose the format war.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 04:07 PM   #9
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This is bizarre. Especially since my Sony XBR960 will play the firewire HDV stream from a JVC HD100! Curious...
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Old January 6th, 2006, 04:07 PM   #10
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It sounds like there is some kind of copy protection enabled on the FX1 but not the Z1 and that the Sony TV will not display a signal without this protection.

Copy protection is one of the main issues I take into account when I buy equipment or software. Right now I am going to skip the first generation of HD disk players because none of them will send HD through their component outs (the only type of HD input my HDTV has).
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Old January 6th, 2006, 09:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt
Sony is so notorious for this type of thing that it just adds to my list of reasons for never buying their admittedly spectacular products. There always seems to be a catch with that company. Please dear God let BlueRay lose the format war.
BlueRay is supported by Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita, Panasonic / Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Thomson, TDK, Technicolor, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

HD DVD is supported by Toshiba, NEC, and Microsoft.

To hope the BlueRay format loses just because of Sony is, as you can see, flat out ridiculous
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Old January 6th, 2006, 10:27 PM   #12
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Please don't disrupt my paranoia with facts. :) Seriously though, Sony's pretty closely associated with this one. I don't think worrying about their influence is ridiculous at all.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 11:30 PM   #13
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I guess I'd like to see that Tv set...and the Samsung DLPs but...

...you still have another reasonable option. That new JVC DVD media player made by I-O Data has DVI output, so there's your all digital path, from the Z1U to the PC or Mac firewire, edit natively (with Womble MPEG Video Wizard at least), then shoot it back out to the Sony TV via the DVI port on the media player.

I have the earlier I-O Data AVel Linkplayer2 and it handles the Sony 25 mbps m2t transport stream without conversion, and also Windows WMV-HD and Divx.

So, you have some options.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 11:38 PM   #14
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But I agree...that's outrageous and pathetic of Sony.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 11:53 PM   #15
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In the thread "HVX200 Reviews are not focusing on what's important" I made the statement: "The fact is Panasonic is known to deliver based on not only the needs but the "wants" of the prosumer market and this will get you far everytime. Canon seems to do this also. Sony, not so much."

Simon Wyndham asked me, "Do you actually think that a company is going to sacrifice customers just to be awkward?"

My answer was: "Yes, happens all the time. I doubt they think they're being awkward, they think they're the best. Think about it. I've never heard anyone say Sony produces a poor image. Can you image a 24p (I'd even take 30p considering I've shot 30p and people still couldn't tell the difference) image from a Sony FX1 style HDV camera? Do you know how many fans Sony could steal back from Panasonic?"

Now after reading your post I stand behind everything I said. Specifically making people buy highend or not. That's silly. Even Apple's low end software works with the highend stuff. It may not always be seemless but I can export for "Garage Band" into iTunes to make a file that works in "Soundtrack".

"iTunes" and "Garage Band" are all part of the same low end package. Admitedly it wasn't always like this but Sony does seem to take a bit of pleasure in biting their fans in the butt. Ironically I still plan to purchase the FX1 or AU1, but post like this make me rethink it. If only the image wasn't so freaking good. But I am also considering buy a Canon H1 body and plugging a film lens into if possible. If this looks good and I have the money I may skip the Sony all together as much as I love the image and am smitten with the FX1 design. Believe it or not I'm even considering the HD100. I know I've been critical of it but if all the problems are straighten out I may look into one.

-Nate
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