Atomos CONNECT—An Outstanding Evolution of the Monitor Lineup

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If Atomos’s monitors are already great, what could possibly make them better? If you ask Atomos, the brand would say adding more connectivity options so shooters can send their footage directly to the cloud to stream to the outside world or to instantly share with collaborators ups the ante. This is what the CONNECT lineup delivers and, after spending some time with it, I can confirm that it is a true next step for Atomos monitors.

Three Monitors on Display

The CONNECT series comprises a total of three products:

The range provides users with enough options to fit a variety of workflows (and budgets). We start off with the monitor-only ZATO, which allows you to hook up HDMI devices and stream. Next, the ATOMOS CONNECT is a new accessory for the Ninja V series—probably the most popular monitor/recorder around—and brings networking connections, SDI input, wireless timecode, and the expected streaming capabilities. Last, the SHOGUN CONNECT is the top of the line and is a fully integrated solution that offers a bigger, brighter display along with the most connectivity options.

 

ZATO CONNECT

CONNECT
for NINJA V/V+

SHOGUN CONNECT

Display

5.2" SuperAtom IPS

5.2" SuperAtom IPS

7" SuperAtom IPS

Resolution

Full HD (1920 x 1080)

Full HD (1920 x 1080)

Full HD (1920 x 1200)

Brightness

1,000 nits

1,000 nits

2,000 nits

Recording

Backup Only

Yes, up to 6K30 Raw (V)
Yes, up to 8K30 Raw (V+)

Yes, up to 8K30 Raw

Switching

Yes

No

No

Overlays

Yes

No

No

Ethernet

Requires optional adapter

Yes

Yes

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 5

Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6

AirGlu

No

Yes

Yes

HDMI

Yes, HDMI 1.4 in/out

Yes, HDMI 2.0 in/out

Yes, HDMI 2.0 in/out

SDI

No

Yes, 12G-SDI input

Yes, 12G-SDI in/out

USB

2 x USB-C
1 x USB-C (power only)

No

1 x USB-C

Frame.io C2C

No

Yes

Yes

Let's focus on each item on its own.

ZATO CONNECT: Excellent Monitoring and Streaming for Everyone

The ZATO CONNECT is the “gateway to ATOMOS Cloud Studio.” Fitting its description well, the ZATO blends affordability with a more-than-basic feature set that will be more than enough for most content creators looking to expand seriously into streaming.

Atomos ZATO CONNECT 5.2" Network-Connected Video Monitor & Recorder 1080p60

Atomos ZATO CONNECT 5.2" Network-Connected Video Monitor & Recorder 1080p60

PERKS 
+Great 5" 1,000-nit display
+Affordable price 
+Switching between sources is possible 
+Multiple USB-C ports
+Simplified AtomOS Lite interface
+Can add graphic overlays and watermarking 
+USB-PD power option

DRAWBACKS
-Minimal recording ability 
-Slower Wi-Fi 5
-No physical Ethernet (requires USB-C adapter) 

If you are considering the ZATO, its main point in comparison to the rest of the line is its recording functionality. The ZATO is not intended to be used for serious recording. This is mainly a monitor, although it can record a local H.264 backup to an SD card.

Since the ZATO offers the ability to bring together prerecorded sources and overlays with live footage, you can create a master file for streaming “as live” later if you don't want to go live right away. The overlay controls are precise and you can pull in your PNG files and set up presets on the screen where you want to position them.

Also, this is the same bright 5" screen that Atomos has put on the Ninja V/V+. Everything is easy to see, the touch functions work well, and it gets bright enough to use outdoors.

As for connectors, the ZATO is unique in that it has two USB-C ports so you can input a USB UVC video source (think webcam) and connect to a computer to use the ZATO feed as your webcam source for popular video conferencing apps. Plus, it has the usual HDMI 1.4 input and output. Keep in mind that this device is meant for Full HD resolution.

Audio is simple, with a 3.5mm input, but there is a decent audio mixer so you can combine and work with the audio from all your sources.

Connectivity, however, is not as strong as the rest of the CONNECT line; the ZATO has the older Wi-Fi 5 and requires a separately available USB-C to Ethernet Adapter to get a physical network connection.

Powering it up can be done with either 20W USB Power Delivery or a standard Sony L-series type battery pack. USB-PD is a very simple solution for AC power and doesn't require any proprietary devices. Additionally, L-series batteries are super common. Both are great options.

AtomOS Lite is a pared down version of Atomos software, but it is perfectly good in this case. Since there isn't a great deal of recording functionality, it does pare down to a more simplified experience. But there are still the usual horizontal flip, zoom to check focus, grid, and frame guides for properly composing your image.

Designed for people just starting to get into streaming, the ZATO is an excellent option. The ability to blend sources and add branding should make this easy for users looking to create a more professional setup without too much investment. The USB-C input also opens the door to using other types of devices.

Example uses:

  • Game streaming with a webcam feed and game console or a PC feed into the ZATO

  • Remote learning with the educator using a webcam and presenting via computer over HDMI

  • Content creators using a mirrorless camera for simple direct streaming

ATOMOS CONNECT: Making the Ninja V Even Better

The Ninja V series has had a history of expansion units with each serving a specific purpose, if you needed it. The units were also rather simple since they just slid into the battery slot. The CONNECT combines many functions of those earlier units but sports a much more robust connection.

Atomos CONNECT Network, Wireless & SDI Expansion for NINJA V/V+

Atomos CONNECT Network, Wireless & SDI Expansion for NINJA V/V+

PERKS 
+Works with your existing Ninja V/V+ 
+Combines multiple expansion units into a single, more comprehensive device
+AirGlu wireless timecode  
+SDI input 
+Wi-Fi 6 & Ethernet
+Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C)  
+Dual record for simultaneous proxy creation

DRAWBACKS
-Works with AtomX SSDmini and MasterCaddy III (Master Caddy III included in the scope of delivery)
-No SDI out or cross conversion
-No built-in overlay or multiple video source functions
-No USB-C connection for use as a UVC webcam source

With the CONNECT attached the Ninja V or V+, you gain a few more connections:

  • 12G-SDI input

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • Wi-Fi 6

  • Bluetooth LE

  • AirGlu wireless timecode sync

This is all immensely helpful. I picked up the timecode unit for my Ninja V and I am much more satisfied with the experience of using the CONNECT instead. It mounts more securely on the Ninja, adds that 12G-SDI port, and really looks like a thought-out product instead of an afterthought accessory.

I did discover one issue with the CONNECT very quickly: it doesn't work with the older, full-size drive caddies. It will only support the AtomX SSDs. As someone who has a few Atomos-approved SSDs in older caddies, this was incredibly disappointing, and it doesn't feel like a simple oversight. It feels like Atomos wants you to purchase the newer drives. Considering how expensive upgrading media can be, this could be a problem for you.

Compared to the other models, and likely owing to the smaller size and the fact that this is an expansion unit, the Ninja V/V+ with CONNECT module doesn't natively offer USB UVC support for a direct USB webcam function. You can easily create that by acquiring the Connect 2 HDMI-to-USB Converter and using the HDMI out of your device. It's not ideal, however, and will use up your HDMI output if you were hoping to loop that out.

Atomos Connect 2 4K HDMI to USB Converter

Atomos Connect 2 4K HDMI to USB Converter

Building on the ZATO, the CONNECT for the Ninja V/V+ is a different type of product. It is now also a recorder in addition to being a monitor and connected device. It is meant for high-quality video input—up to 4K on the base Ninja V, or even 8K on the Ninja V+. This is for professionals looking to make their cameras fully connected devices.

Among the biggest pros of the CONNECT is the support for Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C). This means you can record while instantly sharing proxy video files with your collaborators via Frame.io and Adobe Creative Cloud. I know many people work remotely with clients or collaborators and this cuts out a time-consuming and annoying part of the remote experience.

Users can also record the full-quality Apple ProRes or DNxHR files to the Ninja V while also recording a proxy HEVC (H.265) file with matching timecode and metadata. This setup does wonders to speed up the most boring and frustrating parts of video production workflows.

AirGlu wireless sync seems to be a rebranding of the existing wireless timecode tech and still works well with UltraSync devices. Nothing more to say here—it just works.

ATOMOS AirGlu™ wireless sync technology has been integrated into ATOMOS CONNECT products and provides flexible sync options for a variety of workflows.
ATOMOS AirGlu™ wireless sync technology has been integrated into ATOMOS CONNECT products and provides flexible sync options for a variety of workflows.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi 6 and Ethernet connectivity options should provide outstanding reliability depending on your specific setup.

If you already have a Ninja V or are hoping to remain a bit more mobile with your connected camera rig, then the CONNECT feels like a good middle ground. It also sports the advanced recording tech that Atomos has built its business on.

Working professionals or camera operators looking to simplify their remote or connected workflows, as well as those looking to create a high-quality stream directly from their device, will be very happy with the CONNECT.

Example uses:

  • A content creator going live with an existing camera rig

  • Videographers (mirrorless/compact rigs) working with remote collaborators and clients hoping to take advantage of Frame.io C2C

  • Filmmakers/videographers (mirrorless/compact rigs) looking to add streaming to their toolbox

SHOGUN CONNECT: Biggest, Brightest, and the Best

Sitting at the top of the lineup is the SHOGUN CONNECT. This is the biggest and best option by far. Packing a new 7" 1920 x 1200 display with a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits puts the SHOGUN in a different league than others in the series. The larger chassis also made it possible to add all the inputs and outputs directly on the device itself, to make it a fully integrated solution.

Atomos SHOGUN CONNECT 7" Network-Connected HDR Video Monitor & Recorder 8Kp30/4Kp120

Atomos SHOGUN CONNECT 7" Network-Connected HDR Video Monitor & Recorder 8Kp30/4Kp120

PERKS 
+Bigger, brighter 7" display 
+Maximum recording capabilities
+All connections, including SDI in/out and USB UVC out  
+No built-in switching or graphics overlays

DRAWBACKS
-Big only suitable for larger rigs 
-More power hungry

I'm not going to spend as much time on the SHOGUN as I did on the previous two models since it builds on both of those while retaining many of the same core features.

To start, this is a bigger, better version of the Ninja V with CONNECT module, made evident by the larger 7" display, which has a much higher peak brightness of 2,000 nits for stronger HDR monitoring capabilities.

It also has all the same connections as the CONNECT module, plus a few extras. A key addition is the USB-C port, which lets you set it up as a webcam source on your PC. It also has both an SDI input and an SDI output for loop out as well as signal conversion with HDMI.

Being the SHOGUN, it has the full boat of recording options, including raw recording up to 8K 30p, 6K 60p, and 4K 120p.

Camera to Cloud (C2C) is included as well as the wireless AirGlu timecode system.

ATOMOS AirGlu™ Wireless Sync Ecosystem
ATOMOS AirGlu™ Wireless Sync Ecosystem

If you are looking for a bigger screen or the maximum inputs and compatibility with the most advanced camera systems, then the SHOGUN CONNECT is the best option.

Example uses:

  • A content creator going live with an existing camera rig

  • Videographers (compact or large cinema rigs) working with remote collaborators and clients hoping to take advantage of Frame.io C2C

  • Filmmakers/videographers (compact or large cinema rigs) looking to add streaming to their toolbox

ATOMOS Cloud Studio: Bringing Everything Together

Last on the list is the most essential part of the system—the ATOMOS Cloud Studio. This web-based application is what allows you to configure and connect all the CONNECT series devices to your chosen streaming services. While more updates are planned, the current Beta implementation I tested was solid.

Currently, the features are somewhat barebones but are enough to get started. The Cloud Studio is designed to set up a single destination stream to Facebook Live, Twitch, YouTube, and any custom RTMP destinations. Future updates will bring restreaming functions for multi-destination work.

I tested it with YouTube and, once I connected the SHOGUN CONNECT to the server, it was ready to go. I just hit the switch to go live and almost instantly I was viewing a livestream on YouTube of what was displayed on the SHOGUN.

As someone who isn't super experienced in running the backend tech of streaming, I found this incredibly easy to pick up and start doing. I would easily recommend the CONNECT devices to people looking to get into streaming.

Frame.io Camera to Cloud integration is another huge benefit. Remote workflows and collaborators are now the norm. Sending and reviewing proxies is always a pain and leads to long waits between shooting and when your collaborators can see the product. Now, remote team members can work together at the time of creation and send feedback when it is useful.

You will have to do a bit more setup and create a project in Frame.io that has C2C Connections turned on. Then, heading back to Cloud Studio, you can choose Frame.io as a destination. When you are recording, the screen will show a "Connected to Cloud" icon at the top and even provide a count of how many files remain.

If you plan on using this function often, make sure your connection is reliable, since that will determine how quickly your proxies are uploaded. This makes use of the dual-record function of the SHOGUN CONNECT and Ninja V with CONNECT module so you will still have your full-quality recordings.

The catch here is that while in beta, these features are free; ATOMOS will begin charging a subscription fee for the service. But there will be more features added and the plans will start at a reasonable $5 a month. It's a bit early to predict full value here, but the list of features in the various plans will include the following:

  • Livestreaming to multiple destinations

  • Support for Frame.io Camera to Cloud

  • Live Production virtual control room for live video

  • Multiple devices on a single account

  • Managing devices remotely

  • Applying advanced video quality settings

Looks like Atomos is setting this up to be a successful and core product. It currently works well, so I can only hope that as Atomos expands, it will continue to provide an excellent, simple option for creators who want to develop their tool set.

What do you think of the CONNECT line? Anything you want us to test or check out? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

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