Product Review: Connex Mini

Do you want to add a new dimension to your student broadcasts?

There is one piece of equipment that you can add into your production arsenal that will accomplish this goal - a wireless camera system.

When talking wireless systems, there is a dizzying array of options with a dizzying range of prices. One option that is on the lower end of the price scale, but on the higher end of the quality scale is the Connex MiniConnex01 375 System sold by Camera Motion Research (CMR). CMR is a reseller that provides some necessary upgrades to make the Connex-Mini system functional in a real-world production environment. Our District purchased this system in the summer of 2016 as part of an upgrade to our video production trailer.

Although it is at the lower end of the price scale, it is still not cheap. The complete CMR Connex Mini system is about $1,600 retail, but compares in quality and range of signal to systems in the $5,000 and up range.

At of the beginning of September 2016 our team has used the CMR Connex Mini system for three different productions and it definitely works as advertised! These three events were quite a challenge. At one event it rained continuously, and the other two events had two-hour lightning delays. Even with the wet conditions and a plastic bag over the receiver and transmitter, the units performed flawlessly.

CMR’s website states that the system has a range of 1600 feet (line of sight). We weren’t able to test it at that much of a distance, but our camera operator did walk to the far corners of the stadium and the signal never dropped out. At one event we had the receiver on a c-stand near the press box, and at another event we had the receiver on a c-stand on the track only about six feet up.

Some of the accessories that CMR supplies to upgrade the basic Connex-Mini system are “rod” antennas that replace the strip antennas that comes with the Connex-Mini. The rod antennas have the same functionality as the larger and more bulky strip antennas and the rods seem more durable, and frankly not as obtrusive. CMR also supplies ways to mount the transmitter to the camera and the receiver to some type of stand like your standard mic stand or c-stand.

Connex02 375The best upgrade that CMR provides is a more robust, standard-size, HDMI connector on the transmitter. The Connex-Mini transmitter has an HDMI-micro jack on the transmitter. CMR does this with an adapter that fits on the unit.

The Connex-Mini system operates in the 5.1-5.8 GHz range so it is less likely to be interfered with from 2GHz Wi-Fi systems. The previous wireless system seemed to be very susceptible to Wi-Fi interference.

The quality of the signal is awesome! We use 1080-60i as the video standard in our broadcasts and you cannot tell the difference in quality from the Connex-Mini to the cameras that are connected by fiber. Also there is near zero latency transmission delay of the signal, perfect for live productions. The system does support 1080-60p down to 525-60i, or standard definition video.

The power for the transmitter and receiver come from small rechargeable batteries supplied by CMR. We did power our receiver with a wall-wart style that was supplied and saved the two batteries for the camera transmitter. We got through the whole game with one battery, but it was nice to have the spare ready if needed.

One downside is that the Connex-Mini does not transmit audio. So you would need a separate wireless microphone to get natural sound from the camera or for a remote field reporter. But with the zero-latency of the Connex-Mini there would be no lip-sync issues when using this system with a separate wireless mic. Also, with no audio transmission there is no IFB or intercom that can be transmitted with the Connex Mini, so that needs to be taken into consideration during live productions.

Overall, I really like this system, and I can also envision uses beyond sporting events. How about a roving camera during graduation? How about a roving camera during pep rallies? The system could also be used to transmit a signal to a remote monitor or projector. Also, the unit came supplied with a variety of connectors for use with aerial drones.

The Connex Mini can add a new dimension to your productions. It certainly has to ours.


Links:

Camera Motion Research: http://www.camotionllc.com

CMR Connex Mini: http://www.camotionllc.com/connex-mini/

Press Play Productions Site: http://presstheplay.tv/


 

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