Thank you for reading the 24th DVD Catalyst Newsletter,
This week saw the death of one of the greatest minds in computer history, Steve Jobs. Regardless of what people think of Apple in general, Steve has been partially responsible for most of the technology we use and take for granted every day.
Rest in peace Steve, thank you for all you have given this world.
iPhone 4S: After months of rumors on an iPhone 5, this week it was finally time for Apple's official announcement of the new iPhone.
While a great device in general, after reading the various live blogs during the keynote, I felt a form of Deja Vu. Just like with the iPad 2 earlier this year, the new iPhone ( the iPhone 4S) just received a few hardware bumps, and that's about it. Of course there was more with the iOS5 update, but it seems Apple tries to compete with the gaming consoles (XBOX/PS3) now. Honestly, I don't see myself playing games like Halo Reach on a phone, tv-out or not, and I seriously doubt if Angry Birds would have gotten this big if it was Angry Birds 3D. Maybe in a couple of weeks we will see a TV dock with a gamepad controller connected to it, who knows. My biggest worry with Apple is that Steve left once before and it was nearly the end for Apple. His return resulted in Apple being revived from the dead and getting to where they are today. With him no longer with us, what will happen with Apple now? With 2 "average" upgrades of their top products in a single year, are they holding back or are they having trouble keeping up?.
HTC Flyer: Together with the Blackberry Playbook, HP Touchpad, I consider the HTC Flyer among the top of this year's biggest mistakes. In quite a few previous newsletters I mentioned that 2011 has been a year of many disappointments, product releases with only half (or less) of the functionality available at launch (Xoom with a non-functional SD slot, Nintendo 3DS without video playback etc) but these 3 tablets were released at way too much for what they had to offer. HP took the first step, and decided to call quits and ran a fire-sale at 20% of the release price to get rid of them. Then Blackberry followed suit and dropped $200 of the price on the Playbook (I'll do a review on the Playbook next week).
This week, HTC saw the light, and dropped the Flyer to the $300 sweet-spot for smaller tablets. Now it actually becomes more interesting, but the Flyer is basically a last-year device with a $80 optional pen. It would have hold up nicely against the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, but now, with the Tab being around the same price point, all I can think is that it's a bit too late. On top of that, HTC just released their version of the Xoom, the Jet Stream, but seriously at $699 + a 2 year contract, the Xoom was at that price when it came out back in February. You can now pick one up for that price WITHOUT the contract, or pay $200 less with one. Sure, it has some better specs, but really, with so much cool stuff around the corner, I am quite sure that people would rather wait for something like the Transformers 2, which is rumored to be released in a matter of weeks, and supposedly is based on the new Quad-Core Tegra chip, the Kal-El.
Anyway, early yesterday, a few people got the Flyer for only $100. Due to a little mess-up from Best Buy online, the Flyer was briefly listed for $99. Unfortunately, while some people got lucky, most people who rushed to the stores ended up being told that the price would not be honored. I'm not sure what will happen with this, but I am quite sure we will hear more about this.
XBOX 360: This week also finalized speculation on Microsoft's plans with the XBOX. Earlier this week, rumors were put to rest, and they announced some premium TV channels to become accessible from the XBOX360 in the upcoming Fall Update. Rather than mainly focusing on the US market, they actually have channels available for over 20 countries at launch, which is pretty impressive. Does this mean I can finally drop cable and just get the TV shows I actually want to watch, without commercials?
HP Touchpad: It finally happened. The Touchpad finally got a working Android port, so if you were lucky enough to pick one up during the fire-sale, the Touchpad just became a lot more useful. I should have kept mine, but at $500, I returned it the next day.
Other than that, I didn't really find anything note-worthy on the web this week. The forums were pretty quiet, except for the Apple-related news that happened this week. Next week
DVD Catalyst News:
ImageGallery: Well again most of my time this week was spent on ImageGallery. Quite a few people are anxious about the upcoming Android/NOOKcolor app, so I am doing what I can to get it working as good as I can. Pretty much all is functional, and currently the app is tested for stability. This weekend I will be working on the documentation and the listing screenshots, Youtube video and the description, and am hoping to be able to upload it for approval either Sunday or Monday.
MovieGallery: I'm sorry I haven't updated it for a couple of weeks due to work on ImageGallery. While ImageGallery is based on MovieGallery, the new features I added to ImageGallery will be ported over to MovieGallery, making the experience a lot more enjoyable. Especially the new folder-selection part is something I believe will make a lot of people very happy.
DVD Catalyst 4: Eventhough most of my time lately has been spent on ImageGallery, I have been working on a DVD Catalyst update as well. Besides incorporating some of the features that I added to 4.1, but are no longer in 18.104.22.168, I also added some additional video formats that give even more of a kick to the video quality on different Android Tablets, and am currently testing these new formats in a multitude of different scenarios. Believe me, they are worth it.
Last week someone mentioned that the brief comments I offer on certain devices that I own play a part in the decision-making process for a purchase. While my usage for my gadgets is a bit limited (mainly video), and I don't see myself as a professional reviewer, I do have a large collection of different types of gadgets and devices, and am old enough to actually played with them since the early years (Palm Personal, Apple Newton, original iPaq etc). Of course there are plenty of reviews out there for every new device released, but they are either majorly biased or just ramble about specs and such.
This week I started with a review on the Acer A100 Tablet, the latest device in my collection. If something new comes out (the Kindle Fire will be next) I will provide my opinion on that, but for now I will just work my way back through the collection of gadgets I have. Next week it will be the Blackberry Playbook.
Because of my limited use, I don't have an actual bias towards a certain OS. Because the video player on the device is the one app I use the most myself, I don't take familiarity with the OS into account, and while apps do matter a little bit, most of the apps I use are the stock ones. I don't do much gaming on tablets (I have an XBOX 360 for that, but it hasn't been turned on this year due to a lack of time), so if there is Angry Birds on it or not, I don't really care. As long as it has a way of accessing emails and plays videos, I have my needs covered.
So this week, I started off with
Acer Iconica A100 Review:
Acer Iconica A100 Review | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
While I do work at home, and thus mostly use my devices at home, I have a preference for portability. The 10" Xoom is great for watching movies at nights, but the 7" form-factor just seems to be the perfect size for me. At the beginning of the year I was using my NOOKcolor for most of my personal use, and it is just great to be able to grab the thing when you have to go somewhere in a rush. When I got the Xoom, it replaced the NOOKcolor for in-home use, but I still ended up grabbing the NOOKcolor whenever I needed to go. However, the NOOKcolor does have its limitations as well, and while I absolutely love the device (at $250, it's a bargain for what it is capable of) it has its issues as well. The Acer A100, well, it's a Xoom inside a NOOKcolor casing, perfect.
Not that many people are aware of the fact that if a new-release movie is causing complications with DVD Catalyst, I always try to put up an article on the website on what is needed to make it work. Even though not all of them are problematic, I call it the "Problem DVD List".
DVD Catalyst 4 Problem DVD List | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
The list contains DVDs (and some Blurays) that were reported to me as having complications with the conversion, or ones I ran into myself, as well as is any setting changes are needed to make them work.
Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon (2011) DVD:
Around the same time I released last week's newsletter, Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon was released (why on a Friday instead of the regular Tuesday is still a big question mark to me, but ah well) and while it worked properly, it caused some complications with the darn 99 tracks, which basically means the DVD contains a lot of fake tracks to confuse conversion tools like DVD Catalyst.
How to deal with the 99-track issue in general is explained in detail here:
DVD Catalyst 4 : non-standard DVD protection popup | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
But for Transformers 3, have a look here:
Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon (2011) DVD | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
Fast Five (2011) DVD:
This week "The Fast and the Furious 5" was released on DVD, so to make sure it didn't have any complications I picked it up on release day, and it worked just fine.
Fast Five (2011) DVD | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
Immaturity on the web:
While I can understand that some people just don't like certain companies for whatever reason, I am really disgusted by the immature comments that are floating around the web regarding the demise of Steve Jobs. The animosity that these people have are just plain sad. Are they just attention-seekers, trolls, trying to get other people fired up or do they actually believe in the crap that they are spewing? Seriously, if they only have a slight knowledge of how the technology they use for those comments came to be, they sure as hell wouldn't be typing those kinds of comments. They might not agree with the business strategy used by Apple, or the lawsuits going on with Samsung, but Steve, alongside Bill and a few others are responsible for how we use our computers today. If it wasn't for them, the world would be a completely different place.
Many people choose DVD Catalyst 4 for their DVD conversions because it is so easy to use, but there are only a few that know it's actually a lot more than that.
The reason why I originally created DVD Catalyst is because I could not find anything out there that did what I wanted it to do. Back in 2003 I was already in the habit of converting my movies to video files so I didn't need to dig through my DVD collection, but when I got my iPaq, I ran into file-format issues. The iPaq only liked WMV files, and my video file collection was converted to AVI's. After weeks of looking around, the only solution I could find that would work was by using a Microsoft conversion tool, Windows Media Encoder, alongside a lengthy process of using Windows Calculator to get things right. With a collection of over 500 AVI files to deal with (along with new releases coming in as well) spending 20 minutes with a calculator and then waiting 4 hours for a single conversion just didn't look appealing. Rather than just doing one file at a time, and either wake up after a couple of hours to get a second movie started, I wanted something that would let me queue up a bunch of conversions without too much effort. So, I created my own app. Back then, DVD Catalyst (PocketDVD at the time) was the first video conversion tool that would let you do batch conversions of lots of files, but even now, 8 years later, it is still the ONLY app that would let you simply drag your video files onto it and convert them all in batch mode without any effort at all. Of course many improvements have been made since, such as the automatic black border removal, or even automatic subtitle selection, but if you look at the programs from back then and now, they are all using the same, old, outdated methods for their conversions.
Back in the day, DVD Catalyst was competing with DVD to PocketPC, Pocket DVD Wizard, Pocket DVD Encoder (on a side-note, DVD Cat won the PocketPC & Smartphone Magazine over them), and while most of these apps are on version 4 or even higher, if you look at the previous versions of these apps, even at 1.0, did they actually add anything since to make them worthy of the upgrade pricing? Slysoft's Clone DVD Mobile, another popular app that is a direct competitor to DVD Catalyst, same thing. The step by step graphical interface, while easy, is the same as it was years ago when it first came out. The only difference is that a few extra device profiles have been added. You could say that if it works, why change it, but the thing is, computers change, Windows changes, devices change, so shouldn't your conversion software follow suit?
When I started working on DVD Catalyst 4, I threw out all the generic stuff that all other conversion tools use. The biggest problem I have with all my competitors applications is that they believe that a step-by-step interface makes things easier. For me, maybe because I have carpel tunnel, I prefer to have the computer do the work for me. Thats what they were originally created for, right?
Why force someone to click through at least 5 steps for every single conversion that they do, if nothing changed from the last time? For a single movie, the process is fine, but if you are converting a TV DVD, multiple episodes, or maybe a collection of video files, should you really have to go through the same clicks for every episode or video file?
For me, I just want to select the stuff I want to convert, and select the device I want to play the videos on. Simple, no BS, just that. And that is why I created DVD Catalyst. Insert DVD, select device click Go, and walk away. Drag 100 video files over, select device, click Go.
For most people, that is why they choose DVD Catalyst, however, it doesn't stop there. Because DVD Catalyst 4 is designed to be a 1-click solution doesn't mean it's as limited and simple as it appears. DVD Catalyst 4 grows with you. VD Catalyst is simple at first, but once you start getting more experienced with your video conversions, you will realize that it actually has more options and features to play with than all of the other conversion tools on the market, combined.
While more useful for European countries, DVD Catalyst is the only application that lets you select audio languages it should select by default, and if it doesn't find it, it will automatically look for a subtitle language instead. (select NL for the audio language, it not found, use ENG and enable NL subs for example). It can monitor your recordings/downloads folder and convert new files automatically when they are completed and even play an MP3 to let you know when it is done. It also lets you enable Closed Captions, set specific black border removal options to be applied and much more.
Don't let the price fool you either. Just because most conversion tools figure that their app is worth $35 or more while DVD Catalyst 4 is sold for only $10 doesn't mean that their software is better. I don't spent lots of money on trying to make people believe my app is the best one to use with advertising, or to improve the Google-ranking of my website, so I don't have to incorporate that in the price.
A big week this week. I wish the best to the Jobs family and I hope that Apple will be able to pick up after their big loss.
I hope everyone will have a nice weekend, and I hope to see you next week.
Newsletter | DVD Catalyst 4, the ultimate app for movies & tv on the go
More info: www.tools4movies.com