[00:00:00.00] Today we're going to be looking at the Hollyland Mars Wireless HDMI system. I looked at the 300 model a year and a half-ish ago… Today we're going to be comparing that to the 300 Pro and the 400S.
[00:00:25.11] Today's show is actually being recorded before a live audience. Not live in studio but live on YouTube. It's kind of an odd thing, but if you want to see the full live behind the scenes and all the mess-ups that went into it, that'll be linked down below. Please, check it out if you've got like three hours. But what you're going to be seeing is an edited version of that. Just telling you that because if the show seems a little bit weird, that's probably why.
[00:00:44.27] So again, we're looking at the Mars Wireless HDMI transmitters. I had the 300 model about a year, year and a half ago or so and I did a bunch of videos about that, I'll link below and that was a lot of fun. It was a really cool kind of a thing. Hollyland saw that video and they had sent me that transmitter to check out but they really liked the way that turned out and they asked if I would do that again. And they wanted me to do something live.
[00:01:05.08] And since I’m not doing that many live big shows anymore, I decided that this would be a good way to do that. I’ll do it live, record it live but then re-edit it later for mass consumption. So, we're going to see how that turns out.
[00:01:15.04] So, let's take a look at the three transmitter packs that I’ve got right here… Here's the lineup. This is the pair of the original 300, this is the new 300 PRO. Actually, 300 Pro extended with the antennas and then this is the 400S. The 300 PRO, this is the new one. Again, you can buy this as the standard or the extended version. The difference is there are no antennas on the standard. If you want the extended, then you get the antennas on there.
[00:01:40.02] Now, one of the things that Hollyland has told me is that if you do run with the antennas, you don't actually get more range, you just get a better quality signal. So, I think that's kind of interesting but it's the ones with the antennas that we're testing today. Then there's the 400S.
[00:01:54.02] The 400S, the difference here is that it has SDI. It has both HDMI and SDI on that. So, if you're using an SDI camera, then clearly you're going to want the SDI model option. So, I’ve got some slides here to compare some of the specs of these so let's switch over and take a look at those.
[00:02:07.28] The three units again we're going to be looking at are the Mars 300, the Mars 300 PRO/300 Pro enhanced. Again, we're looking at the enhanced model today and the Mars 400S. So, let's do a little side by side comparison of what's in these. The Mars 300 has a range of 300 feet, about 90 meters, the 300 Pro and the 400S both have extended range of about 400 feet or 120 meters.
[00:02:30.09] On the 300 PRO, you see it says “and 300 feet over Wi-Fi” because one of the really cool advantages of the 300 Pro and the 400S is you can actually connect over Wi-Fi to a tablet and preview the image there. Your connections that you have on the 300 and 300 Pro are both HDMI. On the 400s it is HDMI and SDI.
[00:02:49.21] Now, you'll notice that I’ve got some of these tiles colored in green that's showing kind of what I would consider the best. The reason the 400S has just 400 feet and not 400 and 300 feet like the Mars 300 Pro is because the Wi-Fi range on the 400s is also 400 feet.
[00:03:05.14] So again, with the 400s you have a 400 feet range for both standard wireless and for the Wi-Fi and you have both HDMI and SDI. Video loop out is something you actually lose on the 400S because the two ports are not able to both be HDMI, they are now one SDI and one HDMI. So, on the transmitter for both the 300 and the 300 PRO, you'll find dual HDMI; one is an input and one is a loop out. So that means you could put a monitor on the other end of this but this is probably not an issue for most people because if you are going through a monitor, your monitor probably has a loop out itself so you could loop that out into the 400S if that was the situation you needed.
[00:03:43.26] Next up is the Wi-Fi discussion. The original Mars 300 has no Wi-Fi capability, the Mars 300 Pro does have the ability to connect up to three devices, the 400s can connect up to four devices. And this again means that you are connecting an iPad, an Android device, an iPhone to the wireless transmitters and able to see the images on that screen and it's actually really, really cool.
[00:04:05.19] We'll take a look at connecting to an iOS device at the end of the show today. But let's get back to the slides… On the Mars 400S, you have the ability to have multiple hardware receivers. You can have up to two receivers on there in addition to your Wi-Fi receiving.
[00:04:17.24] So, on the Mars 300, you get no multiple receivers, no Wi-Fi, so it's just one-to-one point to point. The Mars 300 PRO, you can have one receiver and two Wi-Fi connections or no receivers, so no physical receiver and three Wi-Fi connections. The Mars 400S gives you one receiver and two Wi-Fi or two receivers and no Wi-Fi or no receivers and four Wi-Fi connections.
[00:04:40.16] There is not an OLED display on the Mars 300, there is one on both the 300 Pro and the 400s. The only reason the 400s gets a nod, here is because the OLED display gives you a little bit more information.
[00:04:50.23] One advantage of the Mars 300 Pro is that you can actually power it over USB. Now, all of these devices come with ac power supplies but the ability to power over USB is obviously an advantage, it means you can have a USB power bank attached to your rig and power the transmitter or the receiver that way, which is kind of handy.
[00:05:07.06] Next up is the low battery indicator… This was one of my complaints for the original Mars 300, you had no low battery indicator which meant when the battery died, it just went poof. Now, to be fair, the batteries last a pretty long time on these things but it was always a concern. So, with both the 300 Pro and the 400S, you do have low battery indicators.
[00:05:25.25] Next up, let's talk about the signal strength of the transmission power; the Mars 300 is 17 dBm while the 300 Pro and 400S are both 21 which in the research that I did, adding three dBm is effectively doubling the power. So, you're getting a little bit more than double the transmission power which of course explains the extended range.
[00:05:44.11] The weight overall, the Mars 300 come in at 186 grams, the 300 Pro or 300 Pro enhanced, again the difference there being the antennas, but that seems like an awfully big jump just for the antennas, so, I’m not quite sure why the big discrepancy there but there you go, 136 or 172 grams and then the Mars 400 is 192. Either way, the 300 Pro is the lightest. The receiver weight, 186 versus 128 versus 189, so the Mars 300 Pro coming in at the lightest weight.
[00:06:10.17] The Mars 400S just feels a bit more robust. I mean, they're all made of metal and plastic. The 300 Pro has definitely got some plastic on it while the 400S is metal all around, so I guess that's where the extra weight comes in.
[00:06:23.16] The antennas on the 300 and the 400S are both external only while the marsh 300 Pro or extended has internal and external. So, that's what you're seeing here. If you see these guys, the 300 Pro receiver has no antennas, the transmitter has the option to have antennas if you buy the extended pack. If you don't buy the extended, then you get no antennas at all.
[00:06:42.06] These all support up to 1080p60 and we're going to be talking about frame rates a little bit more on one of the next slides. Something that's very, very interesting and something you definitely want to keep in mind when you're using these. And the latency is one of the biggest things about these; what kind of latency do you get between the origin and what you're seeing on a reference monitor or wherever you're looking at it…
[00:07:03.18] Now, for the original 300 and the 400S, it was listed as under 0.1 seconds, which you know, sounds really fast, like under a tenth of a second, that's nothing. But if you think about it in a 30 frame per second signal, a 1/10 of a second is going to be three frames. Under that, it says two frames… We'll see if it really is that or not because I feel like it was a little bit more than that in the earlier test when I played with the 300.
[00:07:28.05] So, we're going to actually measure this later on in the show today and we're going to see how good they are. Now, the 300 Pro has jumped. It has gone down, it says a solid 0.08 second delay. So, that's pretty interesting to see. I did confirm with the company, it is newer hardware, newer generation even than what's in the 400S and so, it's supposed to be faster. So, we're going to - we're going to find out. We're going to measure all of this.
[00:07:50.22] There's something called a “Scene Mode” on the Mars 400S. Now, we're not going to test all of these today because there's only so much time that I want to spend doing this, but the idea is with the Scene Mode is that you can choose which is more important; image quality, speed, meaning latency presumably or a balance between the two.
[00:08:07.14] And finally let's get into pricing. The 300 came in at $449, the 300 Pro is also $449 or 469 for the extended, so not a whole lot more and then the 400S is $649. So, quite a bit more expensive. So, if you do need that SDI and or you do need that extended ability with the more Wi-Fi devices, than you are paying a couple hundred dollars more for that.
[00:08:27.26] So, I think for most people who are likely watching this, I think the 300 Pro is probably going to be the better device for you but of course, if you need SDI, then you need SDI and that's all there is to it.
[00:08:36.14] Now, let's talk about frame-rate conversions. This is something that caught me by surprise. You will find that the frame-rate that goes into the device is not necessarily what comes out of it. What comes out is always in a solid integer. So, if you are shooting at 23.98, what comes out of the receiver is going to be a solid 24p. 24 and 25 don't change but 29.97 goes to 30, 50 stays at 50 and 59.94 becomes 60.
[00:08:59.25] So, why does that matter? Well, if you were recording on the receiving end then that would actually make a big difference because your 29.97 signal suddenly becomes 30 or 59.94 suddenly becomes 60 and it's not going to match up with the rest of your footage.
[00:09:12.07] Now, I would not necessarily recommend that you use these to record on the other end. I think these are really more about monitoring than actually recording on the other end but it's something that you might want to do especially if you're doing live. I’ve actually done a live event where I used a couple of these to send a live signal to an ATEM Mini and at that stage, I think you know, it's already all mixed together, no one's going to notice but it's worth noting you are going to get a frame rate shift so that is something that is important to know.
[00:09:40.18] All right, next up, we're going to actually do a range test. So, the way that I’m going to do this is I’m going to take all of these, plug them into this camera here. I’ve built this little rigmarole to hold all three transmitters at once. All three of the receivers are being plugged into my switcher. We're gonna do a three-up view and then we're gonna take this outside and find out how far we can get away.
[00:10:00.21] Story-time… In the live show, I originally ran this test by cascading the HDMI signal from the camera through each transmitter and taking the package for a walk. I expected there to be a slight signal delay as it passed through each transmitter, but I did not expect the transmitters to interfere with each other, since they all have their own channels and channel scanners.
[00:10:19.10] However, that was not the case. They interfered significantly and all three dropped signal almost as soon as I left the building. So, I repeated the test with each transmitter/receiver pair independently. For this edit, I’ve combined all three into a single stream so you can see where each one dropped and then regained its signal, relative to the other.
[00:10:37.17] The footage you will see through each transmitter will not be identical for this reason, they were all shot independently. Again, if you want to see the full live recording, it's linked below. On with the show…
[00:10:49.01] Get this thing off the tripod again and let's go outside and we'll see.
[00:12:19.24] In summary so far… If you want the best range, especially through walls, as this test was done, get the Mars 300 Pro. But that's only part of the story…
[00:12:28.26] Now it's time to set up for the latency test. Now, the latency test is something that I figured out a pretty clever I think way to do this. I hope it works out as planned. So, give me a few minutes to get this set up and we'll do this thing.
[00:12:42.28] I explained this while I was setting it up but I neglected to recap it. So, the camera is pointing at the time code generator which is feeding HDMI out of the camera into the Atomos display on the left. That is then looping out of that display into one of the wireless transmitters.
[00:12:57.23] The wireless receiver is picking up that signal and outputting that into the Atomos display on the right. So, on the left we'll see the time code in real time, on the right we see the time code received with the wireless delay. So now, you are seeing the delay.
[00:13:14.04] That is quite significant even though per the specs, the 300 Pro should have had the lowest latency. At least in this test, the 400S clearly beat it. And that's on the default balanced setting.
[00:13:25.08] We're going to now take a look at the wireless transmitter to an iPad capability. Now, here's a little thing that I discovered the hard way, it took me a while to figure this out; you cannot have your cellular signal on. You cannot have the cellular antennas on or they will not connect.
[00:13:44.04] It is unclear to me if it's some weird protocol thing or an interference thing, but Hollyland confirmed you must disable cellular on your device for this to work. If you don't, you're just going to get a no signal error. I’m currently connected to the Mars 400. So when you launch the app, you'll see that you can swipe through to choose the device; is it the 300 Pro, the MarsX or the 400S that you're connecting to or the 400. 400S is what I’m doing.
[00:14:08.14] Now, as I said, you do have to get rid of cellular, so I’m going to turn off the cellular antenna and I guess choose this again, there we go, and hit Connect. Now, it's going to go through a process of wanting to connect to the Wi-Fi and you can enter it manually or you can scan it. So, this is on the transmitter, I’m going to hit the scanner which opens up the camera.
[00:14:30.09] The transmitter has - I realize it's out of focus for you, but it has a tiny little thing right there, tiny little barcode. It scans that very quickly, you hit Join and we should see that momentarily. There we go… Now it's going to go sideways, excellent… Loading, loading, loading, and there we go.
[00:14:52.19] Okay, so this is - the colors on here are super whack but let's see what I’ve got in here. I have all kinds of options in here; you can put on a LUT, there's a waveform monitor, there is a histogram, Focus Peaking, excellent, very handy, Zebra Striping which if you hold down, tap and hold, you can change the settings. So if I want my zebras to show only at 100 or whatever, I got that in there.
[00:15:16.04] Let's see what options I have under Focus Peaking… I can choose what color of Focus Peaking I want it to be… Excellent. Do I have any options for the histogram? Oh, transparency on the histogram, that's right, forgot about that and the waveform as well, transparency on that. Frame, you have framing guides you can bring up so you can try different framing guides if you want to tap this down, tap and hold on that, you can do like a 185 crop, a 239, you can change the color of that frame, transparency of the frame and so on and if you want a center mark or not, dot small - why would you want a dot? Small cross or a big cross… We'll go for the small cross and then you can scale the whole thing down.
[00:15:49.15] So if you are going to be shooting in set entirely, you've got that guide on there as well. It's actually quite, quite cool in here. Magnify, I can punch into the shot. So, if I’m checking critical focus, that can be very, very handy to have. False Color, here we've got a false color view on there and then you can go mono color, just the red, just the red green, blue or gray channel, let's turn that off.
[00:16:10.04] Let's see what options do I have under false color. I didn't look. False color, oh, this just shows me and that's actually very good. It shows me the guiding here of exposure on the false color, excellent… And then 3D LUT. If you have one in here, there is one installed already for Canon C-Log, Sony S-Log, two and three and you can manually load these in as well. So, let's just turn that off because that's terrible.
[00:16:31.19] You can take a picture and that will take a freeze frame as you can see on there, and then you can even mark that up. You can say “that guy is an idiot, get rid of him”. So you can do that. Delete that, delete the file or save it to your camera roll. You can record video as well so, it is now recording video… Hello there… And so, if I stop that, I can play it on here.
[00:16:53.01] That's pretty cool, and if you remember from the slides - give me a second. And if you remember from the slides, you can actually have up to four devices connected on the Mars 400S without any hardware receivers or two Wi-Fi devices connected with one hardware receiver. And on the 300 Pro, you can have again, two Wi-Fi’s with one hardware or three Wi-Fi’s with no hardware. So, definitely a very, very cool feature to have.
[00:17:17.07] That my friends is what I wanted to show you. Now, this - this was a bit of a - this was an adventure of a show. For those of you who are watching live and have stuck through it this whole time, wow! For those who are not watching live, did not watch it live, watching the edited one, it was - it was - you know, you should watch the live shows because they're disasters, they're crazy and they're kind of fun.
[00:17:38.13] But yeah, thank you again. You know, it's a bit late to be saying this now, but if you haven't subscribed, subscribe, give it the old thumbs up. One of these days, I’ll figure out my sign off… I guess that's it, did we miss anything? No? All right. See you later.