Happy New Year to all of our readers! It’s that time of year again, and Cinema Without Borders has put together a list of our Top 10 Products of 2014 . As in years past, we have encountered these select products in our tests—as well as personal use—and would like to share our joy with you! The following is a list of CWB’s favorite tools-of-the-trade, chosen by our esteemed staff of tech-geeks and software-junkies. There are quite a few products that were also in our Top Products of 2013 list, we picked them as they still stand out in the crowd.
Without further ado, here are our top 10 products of the year for 2014 (in alphabetical order)!
1. Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro: If you don’t have a smart TV, consider getting an Actiontec SBWD100A01 ScreenBeam Pro Wireless Display Receiver. This is amazing little device enables you to connect your WiDi and Miracast enabled devices to any HDTV. We had no problem connecting our Kindle Fire HDX (via mirroring) and Surface Pro 2 to an HDTV using ScreenBeam Pro. Combine ScreenBeam Pro with an Actiontec network adapter (WCB3000N) to boost signal strength and allow for a 5Ghz WiFi connection, which will have you loving your WiDi/Miracat experience. There are several similar new devices released in 2014, but our tests proved that Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro is still the best.
2. Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 – The lightest, one of the most impressive tablet of its kind is a treasure for films fans, allowing one-touch access to any streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as Amazon Prime Instant Video. There is an X-Ray feature which tells you who is on screen when you are watching a TV series or movie, and the Kindle Fire HDX’ Mayday button works like a magic lamp—bringing a tech support representative right onto your screen in a matter of seconds! The Fire HDX supports Miracast and Second Screen projection.
3. Avid Media Composer –Avid continues to be a leader in providing the best editing package for TV and film. Avid’s abilities to provide full control and superb picture manipulation have kept the software on top as the industry standard. The new features provide easier ingestion of material and quicker work flows as well. For anyone looking to create professional, broadcast quality projects, Avid Media Composer is the best tool available.
4. HP ZBook 14 Mobile Workstation – There are no other mobile workstation as light, as powerful and as affordable as HP ZBook Workstation. We had no choice but to pick them again for our Top Ten again. The HP Workstation folks surprise us every time they introduce a new product. Their creativity and innovations reflect in every single workstation they make. We have amazed by the new little darling of filmmakers, the ZBook 14 Mobile Workstation. This is the lightest mobile workstation that allows you to work on the road as you would do in a studio. What we loved, besides the processing power of ZBook 14, was the fact that you could open the box to change, upgrade and modify it without the use of a single screwdriver.
5. Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking: We put Dragon Naturally Speaking on our list for the fourth consecutive year! The new Dragon provides improved accuracy and other refinements that helped it hang on to its spot as our favorite dictation software. For filmmakers and screenwriters who want to think aloud and dictate their ideas or scripts to a computer, iPad or iPhone, Dragon offers the best voice recognition tool on the market. Dragon Naturally Speaking is another step forward for the program that allows for easier correction and editing, more control in text-to-speech, and an overall faster experience—so you can actually get some work done!
6. Reallusion’s CrazyTalk builds upon a solid foundation to bring us their latest program for creating lip-syncing and facial-animation creations from photos. Reallusion’s software offers amateurs and professionals the ability to animate characters with the power of their voice with the company’s Auto-Motion technology. You will be impressed by CrazyTalk’s animation tools (facial recognition/control), character creation (custom eyes, teeth, hair), and the aforementioned auto-motion technology (auto-lip sync from audio or text). Reallusion has taken revolutionary steps in the field of animation creation tools and is continuing to innovate with its new product Crazy Talk Animator.
7. Sling Media’s Android Player. If you want to access your TV Programing away from your home on your Android phone or tablet, Sling Media still offers the best solution on the market with its new SlingBox Android Player. SlingBox is also compatible with other platforms including iOS, Windows, Roku Box, and Kindle. Sling Media products are consistently a step ahead of the competition, and Slingbox is currently the best way to access your live TV away from home—no matter what device you use.
8. Xperia Z2 Tablet with Vrizon 4G Network. This amazinly fast, light and tin tablet is waterproof and we tested this feature by showering the tablet and it continued to work after taking bath! What makes Xperia Z2 Tablet with Vrizon 4G Network stand out is its mobile connectivity to the fast and incridable Vrizon 4G network. We were able to stream HD video, edit video and perform other fast connectivity demanding tasks with no problem. Xperia Z2 Tablet with Vrizon 4G Network runs on Android platform and has a 10.1 screen size and a mini SD cart slot for additional storage. We will have an extensive review of this tablet soon.
9-Xara Web Designer 10 – If you have been looking for an easy to use program to build your movie page, then you should consider Xara Web Designer 10. This program offers you freedom in creativity and you can bring your imagination to your web page. On top of everything, this latest version uses Responsive Web Design, translating your design for different platforms and different resolution.
10. Toon Boom Harmony. We decided to pick Toon Boom Harmony once again as one of the Top Ten Products of the year as it continues to amaze with every new version. There is no other software on the market that even begins to have the repertoire that Harmony provides for both Amateur and Professional 2D animators. From 2d/3d integration, to particles and advanced curve tools, Toon Boom once again has proved why it is the industry choice.