The Matrox Monarch is the product that every video pro needs, but doesn’t exist – that is, until Q1 2013, when Matrox will start selling it to us. But I believe that it could be much more.
Though there’s not a ton of info yet – in fact, there’s nothing but the press release – here’s the details:
- Configurable via a simple HTML interface using any computer on the same network as the device.
- Generates an RTP-, UDP-, or RTSP-compliant H.264 stream from any full resolution HDMI input.
- Simultaneously records high-quality MP4 or MOV files to an SD card, a USB 2.0 flash drive or hard disk, or network storage.
In short – it’s a stand-alone device that records H.264 files in real-time while also live streaming.
Nobody makes anything like this. Nobody. The closest is Gefen’s High-Definition Personal Video Recorder – which is crappy, records 1080i content anamorphic at 1440×1080, doesn’t live stream, and costs $675 (MSRP is actually $999).
Oh, there’s also an obscure standalone H.264 recorder made by DVEO. It cost $20k the last time I had a vendor quote one.
As you can see, it’s a pretty singular product. And there’s two massive markets for it – one obvious, one not so much.
How do I know? Because for the past month, I’ve been working on building this exact product.
My goal is to create a standalone H.264 recording and streaming device. It would run a stripped-down version of Linux on a low-power ARM chip, relying on a separate H.264 encoding chip for the heavy lifting. I’m developing on a Raspberry Pi, but the project may ultimately need a slightly more powerful board.
Obviously, I didn’t know that Matrox was going to release the Monarch. But their reasoning is the same as mine: this is a product that a lot of people need and that nobody is making.
I’m still going to continue development on my project (new codename: Dusty Moth) because it’s an interesting challenge. But I don’t think I’ll be going up against Matrox in the open market anytime soon.
Video professionals are the obvious market for the Monarch. We’ll probably never use H.264 as a master record – but a cheap little device that dumps an H.264 MP4 onto a thumbdrive in realtime has tons of uses. Hell, it’d be great for Austin City Limits – we could hand the bands HD screeners as they walk offstage. And live streaming is a requirement on almost every event nowadays – yet a simple device to do it doesn’t yet exist.
That said, I’m not sure Matrox really knows what they have here. This is a good product that fills a need – but marketed and priced properly, this could be a great product that opens up new markets for the company.
What the hell am I talking about?
- Games are big consumer business, with consumers spending $24.75 billion in 2011.
- The game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hit $1 billion in just 16 days – faster than the movie Avatar.
- User-generated video is (obviously) a massive online business, the largest example being YouTube.
- Know what the #1 all-time Entertainment channel on YouTube is? It’s Machinima – a channel devoted to gaming and game videos.
- Amateur live streaming of games has also been on the rise – Twitch.tv, a site dedicated to game streaming, boasts 12 million viewers a month.
- Games are starting to include tech that directly empowers gamers to create videos, like the CODcasting feature in the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
- The current tech gamers use to make their videos and streams tends to be cheap, a bit glitchy, and tethered to a computer.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a product that let gamers record and stream their gameplay from their living rooms, without pesky computer tethering or glitchy performance?
The Monarch is that product.
Or rather, it could be – if the price is right. Gamers have money to spend, but they do not have video professional money. In my opinion, for the Monarch to be a gamer product, it’s got to be $499 or less. I think that’s doable: the MXO2 MAX line hovers around $699, and that tech is more complicated than what would (probably) power the Monarch.
And if anyone from Matrox is reading this, and cringing at that price, look at it this way: the last Call of Duty game has sold over 27 million units. This year’s Call of Duty, out in November, has features that beg for a stand-alone capture/streaming box.
If only a tiny 1% of those people bought the Monarch, that would be $134.7 million in revenue. And that’s one game.
Make it happen, Matrox. Give me a call if you need some help.
UPDATE 9/8/2012 @11:23am CDT
According to VideoAktiv, it looks like the Monarch will cost €300-€400, which translates to $384-$511. That’s exactly the range I said they needed to hit (and could hit) to make a truly revolutionary product. I’m really hoping this proves true – it’d be win-win for everyone.