Another somewhat technical and cranky-old-man post…
Much of the equipment I have purchased over the last three or so years has been equipped with a USB port on it to allow end user updates of firmware: hardware’s underlying “Operating System”, although that may be overstating the capabilities of say a Component to SDI converter. This has been a blessing for practitioners like I who buy based on current need only to find out that a new “standard” (how I love that word…) is released months afterward.
As long as the hardware internally is capable of handling the new and improved capabilities, a new firmware update makes the requisite instruction set changes to allow new and different functionality.
The underlying issue here is that the HARDWARE needs to support the new functionality.
At NAB this year BlackMagic Design released a particularly interesting new product that shares some components with its 2 x 9″ rackmount LCD video panel. This new product is designed for highly technical monitoring of video and audio signals, both for aesthetic as well as for standards compliance. The device is called SmartScope Duo.
I will be buying at least one and likely more, once the reports from early adopters are in.
Where things get ugly is when folks who have no background in production start assuming that because an item shares a physical similarity to another AND has a USB port that automatically the new functionality is capable of being enable with a simple firmware update.
One of the more civil discussions taking place on a web forum is here.
It isn’t my intent to make anyone look particularly foolish personally so I chose that thread. There are a great number of threads and posts on numerous different forums about such perceptions of upgradability from the benign to the hostile. Some posters are accusing manufacturers of deliberately crippling features so that they can charge more for an unlocked version.
At the same time there is a movement afoot amongst the “young’ens” to have new features added to products that either don’t have the hardware capabilities in the first place or are simply not well thought out. There appears to be a lot of knee-jerk feature requests out there to try and get everything into one box without giving any thought to how that would affect the Big Picture.
I come from an era of buying independent problem solving pieces of kit for individual problems. I do have a couple of devices in my arsenal that serve multiple purposes but they are typically complimentary. For example, the devices I bought to convert VGA to HD-SDI also double as a scaler and an analog audio embedder. That is like having a toaster with a bagel setting.
Some folks are requesting “features” that are akin to having a bathtub/washing machine/kettle because they all use water.
I have less hair than when I started out… You can probably figure out why…
I acknowledge that I can be cranky but at least I’m well informed.
Thanks for reading!