DVD Catalyst Newsletter
Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 26
Outside it is starting to turn into winter. Most of the trees in the area here have already lost their leaves, and the streets are flooded with them. Unfortunately, we are still dealing with the home-improvement project, which has grown into a nightmare. Starting early summer, we enclosed our porch and build a small deck in front of it, enclosed, so our 2 dogs can run around freely on it without us having to worry about them going after people (they are Yorkies, and a bit over-protective and jealous). While that part wasn’t too bad, since that was completed, we have moved to the inside to replace the carpet and have the bathroom fixed, but unfortunately finding trustworthy contractors to do the job has been impossible. The last time we redid the place, I did most of the work myself, but besides the increased workload this year, it also forced us to do it again. The bathtub and faucets leak badly, so part of the flooring need to be replaced (again).
Anyway, let’s get on with the Tech news of this week:
On Tuesday, Google and Samsung held a big event in Hong Kong to announce the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. While the device looks impressive, and has nice specs with Super AmoLED, Dual Core, HD etc, and ICS has some cool stuff, but I’m not too excited. iOS took over the notification system from Android, but now Android took over iOS’ app folders. Keyboard looks like a design from Apple as well.
In addition to the Galaxy Nexus announcement, Motorola revived the popular RAZR series with the DROID RAZR. While it looks cool, it lost its charm for me by dropping the flip. Now it just looks like most smart phones on the market.
Sony announced the release date for the PSVita this week. As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, it seems that rather than relying on the shopping-spree season (X-Mas) many companies seem to focus their efforts on after the holidays. While the PSVita looks promising, timing it for a non-holiday season either means that they are releasing it half-finished so by next X-Mas they can get more sales, or they are relying on people spending their tax-refunds for it. For me, it will be neither. The PSP was fun when it came out, but then it just dropped. With Sony’s main focus on greed, rather than finding a compromise between what customers want and what they want, I will find something else instead.
On Tuesday, Blackberry had an event as well, Blackberry Devcon. They announced Playbook OS 2.0, and while it seems interesting, the main focus was on (updated) support for Android apps, FlashPlayer, Adobe AIR and WebGL. Nothing really specific about any improvements to the OS itself.
Blackberry also announced BBX, and while cool, with the recent outages and a focus on “Cloud”, I’m a bit worried.
DVD Catalyst News:
MovieGallery. Yesterday I finally released MovieGallery 1.3 in the Android Market. I know, it was long overdue, but with ImageGallery sneaking in-between, my planning shifted a little. But, thanks to ImageGallery, some cool new things made it into MovieGallery.
New in MovieGallery:
*Thumbnail images. If you don’t have images for your movies, MovieGallery will try and generate thumbnails for them. At first startup you might experience a slight slowdown because of this, but the images are cached, so the next time they are loaded it will be smoother.
*Write name on Image. MovieGallery can write the name of your video onto the image/thumbnail, which makes it easier to recognize episodes from TV shows.
*Folder selection. The old folder implementation was complicated. With a scan-list and an ignore-list causing confusion. In 1.3, I rewrote it completely, and now you can just organize your videos in folders and view them based on that.
* Faster startup. With MovieGallery 1.3, I added an option at startup that asks if you want to rescan your device. If you just restart MovieGallery and didn’t add any new files, there is no need to scan it all again.
ImageGallery. Yesterday I also received notification from B&N. ImageGallery finally got approved, so it should be on the B&N Nookcolor store somewhere today or tomorrow.
DVD Catalyst 4. I’m still working on an update. The Android apps needed to be done, and with the big work on that out of the way, I will be focusing my time on DVD Cat. I promise it will be worth the wait. Besides new device profiles, it will also have a collection of new formats to play with.
I wrote a lot of articles this week on a variety of different subjects.
It started with Green Lantern 2011 Digital Copy, or, How not to do DRM. On Amazon.com, the listing of Green Lantern was flooded with complaints about a new format that was used with the Digital Copy of this movie. or some reason, the movie industry has been providing iTunes-compatible Digital Copies since the beginning, and many Apple users pick up the Digital Copy versions specifically to use the files with their iPads and iPhones. But, for this movie (as well as Bad Teacher) they decided to go a different route, streaming. Not a good move. For me, Digital Copies have always been a mistake, and now, by blindsiding the only consumer base that actually had use for them, the Digital Copy idea is sure to die a quiet death. To get a better perspective on my own views on DRM and copy protection, give the full article a read here:
Briefly mentioned in the Blackberry Playbook review I did last week, I also posted up an iGo up2020 Pico Projector Review. The iGo is a small (pico) projector that can be used for a variety of different devices. As with all my reviews, I don’t care much for dry specifications, but am more interested in how it works for my own use and what it can do. I could copy & paste a bunch of numbers and set up a completely dark room like everyone else does, but being able to use my shed as a projector screen from 50+ feet away is way more interesting. You can find the full review, with some pictures and a video here:
Of course after the Galaxy Nexus announcement, I wrote a small article on my website about if DVD Catalyst 4 will work with it. With every device release I get emails about support for it, so I figured I’d post it up in advance:
And of course the MovieGallery 1.3 Release Information. It is not a fully detailed guide, but I did highlight the new features, and of course overloaded it with screenshots of what it looks like:
This week also saw some new DVD releases, so to make sure there were no complications, I added articles for them on my website:
Green Lantern (2011) DVD
Works fine. With all the complaints about the Digital Copy, I was expecting the DVD to struggle, but it was easy as cake. No problems or complications whatsoever.
Bad Teacher (2011) DVD
Similar as Green Lantern. Because of the issues with the Digital Copy, I was expecting a battle, but again, this one was a breeze for DVD Catalyst 4. Cameron Diaz must like cats
The Sword in the Stone (45th Anniversary Edition) DVD
This one was reported to me as being a pain, so I picked it up. If they wanted people to go through the hassle of the new Digital Copy format, they should have made Green Lantern and Bad Teacher as picky as these. Being a recent Disney (re-)release, this DVD hides the actual movie track from DVD Catalyst 4. With a small tweak (switching the scan engine for DVDs) DVD Cat scans and converts the movie properly. The movie is a struggle though.
This week’s biggest release was Pirates of the Caribbean4 On Stranger Tides (2011) DVD. With it being a Disney release as well, it has a few quirks, but for this one, it’s just a matter of finding the correct track to use for the movie.
Random Thought: Amazon Kindle Fire
I believe that Amazon’s Kindle Fire is going to make a huge impact on the current tablet market, and will give both Apple and Google a major run for their money.
The big difference between Apple and Android, and the main reason for Apple’s success with the iPad, is that Apple has everything unified into a single account. You set iTunes up with your account, and with 1 click or tap you can buy apps, games, movies, tv shows, books and music. With Android, there is no such unity. Google has books and apps, and is working on improving its video library, and supposedly is working on a music service, but when the iPad came out a year and a half ago, all that was already in place for it. With the Android tablets, not so much.
Amazon has been hiding in the corner, and quietly been working on some big services. Consumers were aware of the Prime membership, which provided free 2-day shipping for their physical goods store, and of course their movie buy/rental service that slowly moved onto platforms like TiVo and network enabled Bluray players. They basically forced Apple to drop DRM from MP3 files, making it easier for them to make use of the people who use iTunes for music to switch to something else. Then they added a large collection of movies and tv shows to Prime for free, resulting in some nice competition to Netflix and Apple’s Rental system. Then with the Kindle, they broke into the eBook market explosively, and enabled both iOS and Android users to combine their Kindle reading experience with their phone and/or tablet. Then, earlier this year, Amazon exploded on Android with their own market, and combining it with a “free app of the day”, which were the same versions found in the Google Android Market for a price or with Ads. With favorites like Angry Birds, ad free, Angry Birds Rio a week earlier than on the Google Market, Plants vs. Zombies for free, forums started generating more exposure with “free app of the day” threads, all boosting the install of the Amazon Market app on Android devices.
Now, with the Kindle Fire, Amazon is going to cash in on all this work. With the Amazon Appstore being installed and used on so many Android devices already, it’s an easy step for anyone to go to a $200 tablet, and still make use of all those apps. With Prime members already getting free movies and TV shows, it’s an easy step to move to a $200 tablet to be able to access this content wirelessly. For Kindle users, having access to all their books, and now with colorful magazines to boot, giving it that much more to switch over to the Fire.
The way I see it is that both Apple and Google helped (unknowingly) Amazon gain ground. They likely figured that by letting Amazon provide access to their services they were providing their own customers with what they wanted, but underneath, Amazon was paving the way for a major hostile takeover. With the experience gained from working on the other platforms, and looking at their own infrastructure on how to fix the issues that both those platforms face, they came up with Silk, a special browser that basically uses Amazon’s servers to optimize the data for a mobile device. In addition to this, they also gain first-hand access to a users browser usage, which was actually referred to in the announcement as predictive browsing. Silk knows what you would likely click on next, so it downloads it beforehand.
Of course, the same information can also be used to “optimize” the Amazon Store experience as well. From an advertising standpoint, I’m sure Google would kill for that user insight
So, with Amazon’s success on various different media areas, and their success on the other platforms, and the tight integration of all their services, I believe they have a sure-fire hit with the Kindle Fire.
That is it for this week’s newsletter. Today I’ll be tearing out a leaky bathtub as part of our home-improvement project, and on Saturday I’ll be helping a plumber (finally a real one) to install a shower cabin. I hope all goes well with that. I wish this was all over, but we made some mistakes a couple of years ago, and are now working on getting those fixed.
Have a nice weekend (it will likely be a lot better than mine) and see you next week,