HDMI field recorder for less than $1k?

It has been a long time coming, but there is finally an HDMI field recorder available for less than a thousand dollars. It's called the Atomos Ninja. A couple years ago I tried to build a computer with a Black Magic Intensity HDMI capture card. I say "try" because the computer never came together the way I wanted. At first there was a slim form factor case that was a flimsy piece of junk so I moved to a chunkier case which somewhat defeated the purpose of a portable video capture system. Then I realized that the 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad was actually slower at rendering video than my 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo. Really? What a disappointment. Add to that the fact that the data rate from the Intensity card is such that a normal SATA2 drive can't handle the throughput. So a RAID0 is necessary to deal with real-time recording.

Why would I want to record the HDMI signal from my Canon 7D instead of just recording to the Compact Flash card? That's a long and boring (to most) story about highly compressed video files that throw away part of the color information for the images. HDMI is uncompressed with more color information. It sounds like an obvious choice, right? Unfortunately there is more to the story. When the Canon 7D is recording the HDMI output isn't full 1920×1080 (1620×910) and over the image is the red "recording" dot. The other image information, timers, and focus point indicators can be turned off, but not that red dot. HDMI is also interlaced instead of the progressive images that anyone in their right minds would want. There is a Swedish company called Syndicate which makes a software tool for capturing the 7D HDMI output, removing the red dot, stripping the 24p frames out of the 60i HDMI stream, and upscaling the less than full HD image to full HD. They want 200 Euros for it, too. For now I'm sticking with the native files from the 7D. Even with all of the shortcomings of the h.264 codec and 4:2:0 color sampling I still like images it produces for the price. I look forward to the day when the new cameras get rid of the rolling shutter problem.