Isn't tape dead yet? The tenacity of the recording medium that first recorded video in the mid-1950's is pretty impressive, especially lately. Almost a dozen hard-drive and solid-state recording devices have come to life since the turn of the century. The assets these formats bring to the table are formidable - most have no or many fewer moving parts than a tape drive, and all offer almost instantaneous access to footage. However, all of these challengers to the crown share one huge negative attribute - they are, on a minute-by-minute basis, from a dozen to a hundred times more expensive than recording on a tape. And how do you archive with them? A field tape is its own archiving solution. Still, the appeal of the upsides of non-tape recording are pushing more and more production companies into hard-drive and solid-state recording.
Focus Enhancements has been on the leading edge of this revolution for almost a decade. As hard discs simultaneously became larger in capacity, smaller in physical size and much more affordable, their products have tracked that Moore's Law-powered curve. The FS-3 came standard with a 40 gigabyte removable drive in an enclosure that measured 5"x 4"x 6" and required external power. The FS-4 added HDV capability, jacked capacity up to 80Gb, reduced size to 1.5" x 6" x 4" and includes a battery. The FS-5 took all that capability and added a 100Gb hard drive, packed it into a little black slab reminiscent of the Monolith in "2001 - A Space Odyssey" sized at 1.5" x 3" x 5" and added an internal (removable) battery and WiFi-powered remote metadata collection. A later software revision added video preview on the LCD display. What could they possibly come up with for an encore?
Not long after NAB 2009, I received an email announcing the FSH-200, the first Focus Enhancements product to lose the spinning disc and replace it with flash memory. The FSH-200 is physically identical to the FS-5 with one important exception: There is a slot on the right side to accept the Compact Flash card that replaces the hard disk. (At this writing, the only CF cards on the compatibility list are the SanDisk Extreme III in 16Gb and 32Gb capacities.) A rubber boot covers the slot both whether it is empty or occupied. IEEE-1394 (Firewire) is the port of choice for video recording, with a USB2 port used to offload files (assuming you don't want to remove the CF card from the machine.)