Datavideo HS-2000 user review

This is a real user review of the Datavideo HS2000 HD mobile video production studio from someone who has actually bought the product, not one of those sales pitches designed to entice you to make a purchase.

The Datavideo HS-2000 is designed around the Datavideo SE-2000 the cheapest HD video mixer currently available on the market (october 2010), so if you are thinking of buying that mixer, then this review should give you an idea of what to expect.

HS-2000 Church mobile HD video production studio

First Impressions
Having un-boxed the datavideo HS-2000, I was suprised at how small it was, and I'll talk more about this later.

Datavideo HS-2000 unboxed HD studio mobile production unit

The construction of the unit is to a high standard as are all the other Datavideo products I've bought, and since the HS-2000 is designed for portable and quick setup, is very compact and can be carried by one person unlike the Datavideo HS-1000.

Datavideo HS2000 features
At the heart of the unit is a 5 Channel mixer (4 HD video channels / 1 DVI computer or 3 HD Video / 2 DVI computer) with inbuilt TBC (time base correctors) allowing silky smooth transitions and switching of your church video sources. In addition there is a 5 station intercomm with tally function and the corresponding 4 belt backs (there are only 4 because you can have a maximum of 4 camera operators).

Datavideo HS-2000 rear view connections panel

In addition there is a 4 channel audio mixer with professional XLR connectors so you can either connect microphones (phantom power is also available), or line feed from the in house PA desk, and finally a 17 inch HD monitor for preview and program output monitoring.

There are 2 SDI as well as a single analogue YUV HD video program outputs, so you have enough connections for a recorder, large extenal 'on air' monitor and sending signals to a projector for example. Audio output is catered for by 2 XLR male connectors. Finally there is a HDMI input port that can be used for monitoring purposes and a tally output if required.

Video Mixer design and Layout
close up of Datavideo HS-2000 mixer production system

As can be expected from a high quality product, a lot of thought has been put into the design and layout of the Datavideo HS-2000 HD video production unit, all controls are well labelled, illuminated and placed in a natural position, and any church video director will be comfortble sitting in front of the HS-2000.

Setup and Operation
One of the reasons why our church bought the Datavideo HS-2000 mobile studio is the fact that we have to setup every Sunday from scratch, and this unit definately eases that process. Plug in a single power adaptor, connect the camera cables, the intercomm cables (if being used), the audio feed from the PA mixing desk, the Digital HD video recorder and we are ready.

If you are setting up for the first time, you will need to configure the HS-2000 to suit your individual needs. Things that need configuring as a system include HD format (720p or 1080i you can't mix formats though, so all cameras need to be 720 or 1080), transistion speed times, Picture in Picture source (if you are going to be using that feature), SDI input 4 (video or DVI), how the audio mixer section works (follow video or not), you only have to do this once unless your needs change.

Operating this live mobile production unit is very easy, press on the rear power switch, and the multi-display screen comes to life, the A/B buses even remembers the last sources selected.
Cutting between sources is as simple as selecting the required camera on the A bus, while mixing requires just cuing the next camera on Bus B (this is shown on the preview screen with the yellow tally light informing the operator to steady their shot ready to go live) and then either using the T-Bar to transit or pressing the take button.

The Picture in Picture is a simple feature to use, though I have found no real life situation where it has been required during our church service recordings.

The Luma key function is something that I would have loved to use to overlay song lyrics over live video during praise and worship, but the Datavideo HS-2000 implimentation requires the use of the B bus to select the key source, this means that I have to stick to cutting between cameras on the A bus (okay for fast songs but not ideal during worship and there is a need to convey the emotion of a slow heartfelt worshipper), so we have to stick with our current method of using 2 projectors.

I don't use the audio mixer apart from routing the supplied in house sound to the Datavideo HDR 50 video recorder and setting the levels as required.
Note: The SE-2000 mixer which this unit is based around does not de-embed SDI audio nor does it embed audio into the SDI output

My impressions of the Datavideo HS-2000

Having used the unit for over 8 weeks, my overall thought is that the unit is very good value for money, a recommended product where quick setup is required (church video departments can not find a cheaper HD mobile production unit on the market), and a corporate video producer will find this is much more affordable than the Sony Anycast workstation. The unit is well built, all controls provide tactile feedback so you know have pressed them, and the T-bar looks and feels professional.

Cons: I mentioned earlier the small size of this unit, which means that it only comes supplied with a 17 inch monitor, and I have found in practice cramming the multi-display unit into it has meant that I can't critically preview my camera sources before going live, and have ended up with a few out of focus shots.
This issue is futher made worse by the fact that I can't connect an external larger monitor to the mixer multi-display output if I wanted to!
If you have a permanent place of worship, then it is best you buy the Datavideo SE-2000 video mixer, and build your system around it, that way you can have a larger monitor that would suit your needs. There are ways of separately monitoring the camera inputs, so when we move to a permanent location I won't be getting rid of the HS-2000 unless of course we need more than 4 camera inputs!
This is my only criticism of an otherwise brilliant affordable HD video product.

Pros:Cheap and affordable, lots of features, portable and light, supports full HD (multiple formats).

In summary the Datavideo HS-2000 is what you need if you are looking for a compact highly portable affordable HD video production unit especially in a church where you have to breakdown after each service. I look forward to many more years of service from this unit just like our cheap SD video mixer gave us.


Mike Ostrovljanovic said...

hello i have the same mixer in my church. just wanted to ask about your workflow. what are u doing with the output single of the mixer? are u recording it somewhere? streaming?
can you tell me more about the output? and what units you using?

Shola said...

Mike, We have 3 uses of the HD-SDI output from this mixer.

1. Feeds our IMAG projectors so people at the back of the church can see what's going on.

2. Is recorded directly to a Hard drive using the Datavideo HDR-50 recorder

3. Is streamed live onto the internet via an apple macbook pro laptop.

Anonymous said...

Hi, how do you enter an SDI feed into the macbook? and how do you stream from there? Tx in advance

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the great review, it is a product I have been looking at for awhile now, but I have the same question as anonymus above; How do you convert the SDI to an input (like firewire 400/800 or thunderbolt) for a Mac Book Pro?


Shola said...

I think I have mentioned in a seperate article on this website that I use a BlackMagic converter to go from HD-SDI to Analogue composite or component and then use a normal capture card to interface with a MacBook Pro.

I have not found an affordable HD-SDI to firewire converter. You might also want to consider using a different mixer such as a Tricaster or BlackMagic ATEM Studio mixer for live video streaming.

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