Zoomed Video, Cardbus, USB: Hype or Hope?
It's not enough to know that your laptop supports PCMCIA Type I, II or III,
but also if it supports the new PC-Card standards of Zoomed Video and CardBus.
In addition to these PC-Card expansion standards, a new port is also on the
horizon... along with your standard video, PS/2, serial and parallel ports, a
future "standard" awaits: the Universal Serial Port, otherwise known as USB. I
will discuss these 3 features and how they work and if you really need them.
Zoomed Video is sometimes mistaken as video-out or video-capture. The latter
is closer to the real function than the former. Basically, Zoomed Video allows
external sources to interact directly with the notebook's video system. What
advantage does this provide? Well, by bypassing the system CPU and bus, video
is streamed directly to the graphics card and display driver, resulting in
faster video without taxing the CPU of the notebook. This way, MPEG movies can
run faster and better due to the fact that the CPU is not required to process
any of the information. As you can see, this is more like a video-in function
rather than video-out, although the schematics of the Zoomed Video standard
seem to imply that this process can be used in reverse. This function is
great for video editing/capturing and any type of video-intensive applications
like live video-feeds or TV-tuner cards. Do you need this? It never hurts and
is becoming standard on many systems... AND if your system does not have a
separate video-capture port, you can use this to do it.
For more info on Zoomed Video, go to the
CardBus is basically a PC-Card interface to the PCI system bus. It allows up
to 132MB transfer at 33mhz. This function allows the connection of PCI devices
to a notebook system. It has 32-bit performance and brings high-end desktop
devices to a notebook computer in the PC-Card form factor. Like what? Well,
high speed LAN connections, video capture and SCSI to name a few. Also, like
PCI, it provides bus mastering support to increase system performance. Do you
need it? If you want to be able to add 32-bit devices without having to use
a port replicator or would like high-performance out of you PC cards, yes...
if this doesn't matter or you don't care, then you won't care. But... it is
always good to have something that will allow you to expand in the future.
More info on CardBus can be found at
Intel's site or at the
page on CardBus.
Universal Serial Port: USB
Not another port! Some of us still don't know what vga, serial, parallel or
PS/2 ports are used for. Well, USB is actually not just a mobile port, it is
also used for desktop system too. It is basically a high-speed,
high-performance serial port that allows Plug and Play devices externally
rather than onboard. It also supports chaining of multiple peripherals to one
port (up to 127), very similar but less limited than SCSI peripherals. This,
as you can see, allows unlimited potential to add various external and
peripherals such as LAN hubs, video devices, tape/disk drives, ISDN adaptors
and so on. Do you need this? Well, like CardBus... I think that a system
would not be complete without it... and it may add another 6-12 months on the
life of your system.
You can find out more about USB at
page or at the
Whew! That was a quite a bit of info! Still confused? Go ahead and
e-mail me or get more
information at the PC-Card
Next Week: Erick's Laws: How I decide to buy a notebook