Okay, maybe you’ll never be another Stephen Spielberg, but working with video is an exciting endeavor. Today’s computers let you produce and manipulate videos to create your own blockbuster. But you won’t be using any old computer. Video editing requires a powerful computer.
When I wanted to have some fun with videos, I asked the folks at Dell to put together the ideal video editing computer system. All Dell systems are built to order, so this was an easy task for them. Here’s what they came up with:
Since video editing is a processor-intensive task, the ideal system needs a powerful processor: A Dell Dimension 8300 with a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 processor. Video editing needs lots of fast memory: 512MB DDR-SDRAM. A good graphics card with plenty of memory is a must: 128MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200. The computer also needs a fast port for transferring video from a digital video camera: 1394 (firewire) port, and a large hard drive to accommodate those huge video files: a 120GB serial ATA hard drive. Last but not least, a DVD writeable drive and video editing software is needed to create DVDs: 8X DVD + RW and Pinnacle Studio 9 software.
If you are going to invest in such a powerful computer system, you might as well get a few other enjoyable perks as well. So Dell included an 18” flat panel monitor, a Dell optical mouse, a multi-media keyboard, integrated network card, and a fantastic set of Dell 5650 5.1 speakers. The package also included Windows XP Home Edition and Microsoft’s Works Suite 2004.
This was a dream system for working with videos. It provides smooth playbacks and speedy rendering. It handles Adobe Premiere, my high-end video editing software quite well. My only wish was that Dell had included a multi-format writeable DVD drive since the +RW disks did not work in some of the DVD players that I tested.
I’ve been using the 8300 for several months without a glitch. It performs as well at everyday word processing projects and Web surfing as it does at video creation.
The Dell 5.1 speakers blew me away. Even some “self-professed audio experts” who heard the system were impressed. The four satellite speakers, subwoofer and center channel were easy to set up with explicit labeling, special coordinated plugs and connectors, and color-coding. The subwoofer was almost as large as the computer itself and with five speakers there are plenty of wires to deal with. However, the system delivered a total of 100 Watts of power. The sound was clean and clear regardless of the volume setting, which is a real, plus in a computer speaker system.
Unfortunately, upon arrival it was obvious that this computer had gotten a bit jostled during shipment. One of the silver covers that is used to conceal unused slots on the back of the computer was inside the computer and it made quite an unnerving clinking sound when the computer was lifted out of the box. Upon closer inspection I found that the video board was also loose. Fortunately, it was easy to reseat the video card and retrieve the metal cover and reinstall it in its proper place. Dell’s unique clam-shell case makes accessing the inside of the computer fairly easy. You press two tabs and the computer opens like a book with its spine sitting on the floor. Instead of opening flat, it sits with the two sides at about a 45 degree angle to the floor. The PC’s components are on both sides of the case giving easy access to all the inner workings.
The 1801FP flat panel monitor is encased in a black bezel that matches the rest of the computer components. It produced smooth images and crisp text. It has both digital and analog hook-up. I used the digital port and found the monitor performed well with full-motion video and well as games. The display panel could tilt back and forth and to the left and right. The height was also adjustable. If you use the computer a lot, this type of adjustability can make a big difference in your comfort level and can help reduce neck and eye fatigue. The monitor has two USB 2.0 ports on the panel itself and two more on the base for attaching keyboards and mice.
The computer itself also has six USB 2.0 ports: four on the back and two on the front under a plastic door. The door also covers a headphone and microphone port. Duplicate headphone and microphone ports are also on the back of the computer. I liked the flexibility of this set up. Personally, though, I would rather see the ports and have easier access than having to always lift up that silly little door.
The multimedia keyboard includes a volume knob and media player control buttons. It is well designed and easy to use. This will certainly a plus for those who plan to listen to music and play videos on their computer.
I really liked this Dell’s look, as well. Everything was coordinated in black. Even the speakers have a sleek black and silver look. All-in-all, this video edition of the Dimension 8300 was both good-looking and good-performing.