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T-TAP Thunderbolt out-only interface: the details in general + with a DreamColor monitor

We've been patiently waiting since April 2012 to find out exactly how compatible the T-TAP is. Now you can know...

By Allan Tépper | October 28, 2012

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Back in April 2012 at NAB in Las Vegas , the USA-based AJA first announced and showed their US$295 T-TAP out-only audio/video Thunderbolt interface, which makes a lot of sense in the age of file-based video production. Since April, I have covered the product in a few articles, and kept pressing AJA for more details, specifically with regards to very detailed specs to meet the beloved (yet demanding) HP DreamColor monitor. Finally, AJA lent me a T-TAP so I could test it myself. Ahead you’ll find AJA’s own warnings, my findings, and then my observations about where and when the T-TAP will logically fit in a system.

 

In this article:

  • What a T-TAP does, and how could it help you?

  • What applications will definitely work with T-TAP?

  • What applications may work in the near future with T-TAP?

  • What might work someday with T-TAP?

  • What apps are unlikely to work -ever- with T-TAP?

  • Will the T-TAP work properly with an HP DreamColor monitor?/AJA’s warnings/My findings

  • Competition for T-TAP?

  • My recommendations regarding T-TAP

 

What a T-TAP does, and how could it help you?

At US$295, T-TAP is a relatively inexpensive out-only Thunderbolt audio/video interface that allows you to monitor (with proper spatial resolution and proper framerates) onto a trusted (and hopefully calibrated) monitor or HDTV set with popular video editing applications from Apple (Final Cut Pro), Adobe (i.e. Premiere Pro), and Avid (Media Composer, NewsCutter, Symphony) in full screen, with its proper colors and framerates. (To accomplish some of those goals without such an interface is challenging and has drawbacks; to do all of them at all framerates requires hacking of the OS using a shareware app.) T-TAP has both HD-SDI and HDMI output to connect to a monitor or HDTV set. When I say inexpensive, I mean compared to other interfaces sold by AJA (and others) that also offer more features, like input capabilities, loopability (daisy chaining), and hardware-based color space conversions which many of you probably don’t need. The T-TAP is a self-powered end-point Thunderbolt device, so you’ll have to put it at the end of the Thunderbolt chain, i.e. after your Thunderbolt disk array or drive. If you need to connect yet another end-point Thunderbolt device to your system, keep in mind that many of the latest Apple computer models offer two Thunderbolt ports.

What applications will definitely work with T-TAP?

When I did my tests in early October 2012, both Apple’s Final Cut Pro (I did my tests with FCP X 10.0.5, since 10.0.6 hadn’t yet been released) and Avid’s Media Composer were working (I did my test with Media Composer 6.01). The day I had access to a DreamColor monitor (thanks to Orlando at Luna Studio), the necessary T-TAP plugin for Adobe Premiere CS6 wasn’t yet available from AJA, although it is now, and I have no doubt that that it will work just as well as it did for me with FCP X and Media Composer. Details about T-TAP’s behavior during my tests are ahead in this article.

What apps may work in the future with T-TAP?

Given non-binding predictions I heard from trusted sources, it is very likely that T-TAP will also work in the future with other Adobe applications, like SpeedGrade.
 

I also received a non-denial about the more remote possibility of a desktop mode further in the future, to record training from the Mac’s own GPU output. For that, AJA recommends AJA’s FS2. For that purpose, I know that Alex Lindsay records the Mac’s GPU output at 60.000p using a Pix recorder from SoundDevices and then conforms to 59.94p in post. Alex says that other recorders he’s tried reject the 60.000p signal.

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