By Steve Duff, Contributing Editor, See staff list for e-mail address
Name: MaVi System 2.1 Price: $45 USD Developer: Pro-Dev Home Page: http://www.pro-dev.com/ Screen Shot
Ever get frustrated when you wanted to download an AVI file, but realized you couldn't play it properly? Or a QuickTime movie? Sure, QT and CyberAVI will play them full screen in all their pixellated glory. Or you could run Mac emulation for QuickTime, but suppose you wanted to play these movies in a window on your Workbench, the way they were meant to be seen? And suppose you don't have Mac emulation?
Well, MaVi solves your problems, so long as you have a powerful Amiga with a graphics card. MaVi stands for Multimedia Audio Video Interface, and the product handles a number of file formats, including QuickTime, Windows AVI, FLIC, GIF-Anim, WAV, AIFF, IFF-Audio, VOC, and more. I personally tested QuickTime and AVI successfully, but MaVi failed to play a Genetic Species animated GIF.
MaVi worked beautifully on the QuickTime and AVI files I downloaded -- mainly movie trailers like Vertigo and commercials featuring Taco Bell's Yo Quiero dog. The visual quality and sound came close to equaling the QuickTime MoviePlayer on my PowerMac. Indeed, the barely perceptible superiority in the Mac's video may have resulted from a sharper image on its Sony monitor. When playing the same files, there was no apparent difference in playback speed between MaVi and MoviePlayer so long as the anims were played at their normal size. Scaling up an AVI to 150% saw MaVi completely lose audio/video sync, though it did much better with QuickTime video scaled to 200%. Scaling the video still further -- to 400% -- resulted in a whirlpool of dropped frames. CPU use was impressively low for normal-sized video, only 20-30%., with only 1.5-3 MB of RAM being gobbled.
MaVi has a clean MUI interface plus goodies like colored fonts -- the latter all too rare in Amiga apps. Aside from normal MUI buttons, you can opt for custom interfaces like JetAudio, which looks great but seemed a bit fiddly. MaVi includes an Audio Monitor plug-in which is pretty cool, but because I carry six window gadgets in normal use, the Audio Monitor window proved too small to fit them, making it both undraggable and uncloseable.
Pro-Dev's future plans for MaVi include vaguely hinted-at 'streaming' audio and video technologies. MaVi is also apparently constructed in such a way as to be plug-in friendly, so hopefully there'll be further additions to the architecture.
The biggest disappointments for North American users include German-only documentation and the usual payment nightmare. If you're in the US, you can basically choose between sending a Postal Money Order ($7.50, and slow), or doing a wire transfer (fast, but with a nifty $30 price tag at my bank). Neither is very attractive. Pro-Dev is currently working on securing a worldwide distributor, but as of this writing it hasn't happened yet.
In summary, MaVi is an impressive work in progress. It offers properly-sized QuickTime and AVI video with outstanding sound and rock-solid playback. Unfortunately, the price to be paid is that it runs only on graphics-card miggies, not to mention the unpleasant registration process for those who live outside Europe. Nonetheless, this is a really cool app, well worth getting once distribution is worked out.
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