Friday, September 08, 2006

Tektronix WFM7100

I've just my hands our new Tek WFM7100 demo unit and after one quick firmware update (to v. 1.23, fact fans!) I've been monkeying about with it ('cause I'll be demo'ing it post IBC). First thoughts are that it's very sluggish - screen update on waveforms is fine but navigation is slow. It feels like i's running on top of something (Windows Embedded?!) and that seems to be born out by the fact that when you hit it over the Java interface the menu on the front panel screen remains with the last selection you made and the remote display changes as per selections you make on the browser - almost like a remote desktop.
Anyhow - feature wise it is pretty much a WVR7100 with some nice extras. The biggest step is the screen grab facilities. In the same way that video or audio 'events' (gamut, level etc.) can be placed in the log, close the GPI, honk an SNMP alarm or just indicate on the front panel you can now have an error condition dump a screen-grab to a USB thumb drive. Now you can imagine exporting the XML log with still-frames of the offending video - excellent for monitoring the state of a cable head-end (for example). Another addition is having a picture o/p SVGA as well as the instrement's display out. We often install the WVR series rasterisers into machines rooms and DA the feed to several places (including for the operator in the machine area) - but since this has a built-in insterment display it would be advantageous to have just the picture (on a 15¨ TFT panel) thus avoiding the cost of an HD monitor.
Unlike glass-tubed traditional 'scopes (and even some other rasterised models - specifically the Videoteks) the 7100 generates the graticules in the same digital space where the HD/SDi stream is demultiplex'ed - the upshot of this is that they are ultimately accurate - something no other 'scope can lay claim to (unless they've just been calibrated!). Having spent time doing a head-to-head with the other manufacturers (Videotek, Omnitek and Hamlet) I conclude that the only reason folks don't buy Tek is the price. In terms of accuracy, ease of use and feature set the Tectonix are way out in front. Their automated QC features are pretty impressive and make delivery reports very easy to prepare.

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