Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 29.
As mentioned in last week's newsletter, for quite some time I've been struggling with my hosting company. Poor website performance, poor customer service, lame excuses, lies, finger pointing etc. I wanted to move since the beginning of the year, but I figured that the complications of such a move outweigh the benefits, so I put up with it. However, when they decided to turn off my website without warning, it was the last drop.
Well finally after 2 weeks, the move is completed, and the tools4movies.com website is now hosted by GoDaddy. There were some complications for a few days, with part of the internet pointing to the old location, and part to the new location, but finally all is working as it should, and especially considering the rush-job I did in order to get the new website up and running, I am happy with how the new website turned out.
With the new website I also released an update to DVD Catalyst 4, v126.96.36.199, which also has some major new stuff.
More about both a bit later.
Of course one of the biggest things Tech this week was Barnes & Noble's announcement of the NOOK Tablet. Posed directly against the Amazon Kindle Fire, B&N upped the specs of the original NOOKcolor a bit. Dual Core processor, 16GB memory, Android Gingerbread, which is more than what the Kindle Fire has. While it appears to be a nice upgrade, it really doesn't offer that much more over the original NOOKcolor though. It's called the NOOK Tablet, but it appears to be running the familiar, locked-down, NOOKcolor shell on top. In order to actually get access to "Tablet" functionality, you are basically forced to root the device, or wait until N2A releases a NOOKtablet version of its Android SD-Card. Since I already have a NOOKcolor, I'm not too excited with the NOOKtablet. If you don't have a NOOKcolor yet, the NOOKtablet looks like a great device, but if you already have one, I doubt that you would notice much of a difference.
Adobe has announced to drop Flash for mobile devices. I'm not too fond of Flash myself, but since there are a lot of cool websites (www.lucasarts.com for example) that do make use of it, and it would be a shame to not be able to enjoy the multimedia experience they provide on an Android tablet.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 was released this week as well. This is likely the reason why most of the internet is a bit quiet. While the game sure looks cool, my XBOX has been collecting dust since we started doing our home-improvement, so I'll probably be ending up getting it in a GOTY edition or when it hits the sales bin at Walmart.
DVD Catalyst News:
As mentioned above, this week was a big deal for me. After Powweb, my old hosting company, decided to "suspend" my website on Oct 30 without any warning, I finally got fed up completely with them. For the last 2 years, they have been getting worse and worse, but if they advertise with unlimited this and that, I don't see how they can actually complain about getting too many visitors or using up too much bandwidth. The worst thing is that when I contact them, they just try and send me off for a walk in the park with some vague response. It doesn't sit well with me either that when they actually suspended tools4movies.com, my hosting year was up as well, and they charged me for another year.
So this week, I no longer have to put up with their BS. Tools4Movies.com is now hosted by GoDaddy, and so far, my experience with them has been nothing short of amazing.
Of course, as expected with a domain-move, I ran into some complications, and one of them being quite major. Purchase orders were not sent out for some reason, and when I contacted GoDaddy, I was confused on how and what was actually happening, but somehow, the GoDaddy rep managed to pick out what the problem was, and pointed me in the right direction. 2 minutes later, all was working as normal again.
When searching for a replacement for PowWeb, I've read plenty of reviews, and of course, as with every host, there are plenty of bad reviews on GoDaddy. But, because a couple of people I know of mentioned they never had issues with GoDaddy, I went with them.
DVD Catalyst 4 v188.8.131.52
Also mentioned earlier, DVD Catalyst 4 was updated to 184.108.40.206 this week. It might appear to be just a minor update, actually quite a few things have been added and updated. A nice selection of new conversion formats was added, along with new "HQXT" profiles for most of the popular devices, which provide a great quality video for DVD-sized video content, and a good quality for HD (720p) sized content. While it is yet another quality profile to choose from, this one is the one I prefer to use for my own conversions, and should be easier for people who convert video's using multiple screen sizes.
In addition to the new formats and quality profiles, of course support (profiles) for new and upcoming devices have been added. DVD Catalyst 4 v220.127.116.11 had a total of 852 different device profiles, with 18.104.22.168, it has grown to a total of 1061 different profiles.
Of course it works better with newer DVDs now like Cars 2, Thor, Captain America and Fast Five.
The Tools4Movies.com website has been redesigned. While I did receive a lot of compliments on the original website, I wanted to have a calmer look. With the new website, I opted for a light-grey for the backgrounds to make it easier on the eyes. Because of the numerous detailed articles on the website, people tend to spend quite some time on the website reading and while pure white is very common on the web because it provides a great contrast, it seems to be painful, burning on the eyes. The light grey provides a more pleasant reading experience.
Due to limitations (read restrictions) of my previous hosting company, I was not able to activate a search option on the website, making things a lot harder to find. With the website now on a different host, I activated the search option, so if you are looking for something specific on the website, it should be a lot easier to find.
DVD Catalyst 4 v22.214.171.124 Release Notes:
Mater’s Tall Tales (2011) DVD
The Change Up (2011) DVD
While I did add a lot of new content this week, much of the new articles I set with an earlier date to not trigger any automatic posting/rss updates. Especially the "Problem DVD" section has received a major overhaul, with almost all the movies now listed with a cover image.
I don't know what it is this year, but the technology seems to be slowing down. What happened to innovation?
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the technological advanced that have been made this year, but it just doesn't feel like it is up to par with the advances of previous years.
Sure, at the beginning of the year, a few gadgets were released that made an impact, but overall, pretty much everything that was released is a simple upgrade of a previous model. My disappointment with 2011 started with the release of the iPad2. I didn't jump on the bandwagon when the iPad was first released, because it was basically just a large iPod Touch.
I was looking forward to the iPad2 this year, but unfortunately, the upgrades done to it were too limited. To me, it is more of an iPad 1.5, and Apple is holding back something (Retina Display for example) so they don't have to think about what to do with the iPad3. People always complain about Android's fragmentation, but Apple is no better. With just a dual-core upgrade and faster video card, developers don't seem to rush out to create pure iPad2 apps. They get more sales revenue by making an iPod Touch 2 / iPhone 3G app, and then adding some high resolution images to support the iPad/iPhone4/iPodTouch4, rather than developing something specific for just 1 portion of the market.
That is not to say that this year didn't see anything actually new though. Motorola released the Xoom, the first Android Honeycomb tablet, Nintendo released the 3DS, the first 3D gaming device that doesn't require special glasses, Blackberry released the Playbook, HP released (and killed) the Touchpad. All new and innovative, but the actual implementation is just plain weak. I already dubbed 2011 the year of half-xss releases a few times in previous newsletters, and especially the Playbook and the 3DS are the prime reason for this. Both of these devices are sold with "upcoming" features. The 3DS with Netflix and video playback support, but it took quite some time for one of these to be actually implemented. The Playbook was promoted as getting Android App support, but the actual implementation has slipped to be released slightly before the 1 year anniversary of the Playbook release. Innovation is one thing, but selling promises you can't deliver on within a reasonable amount of time is just plain sad.
Innovation has been reduced in movies as well. Most of the new movies are remakes of old ones, or sequels that are just made to rake in a bit more money. Then there is the video game industry. Almost all the major game releases this year end with a 3. Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3. More of the same.
As a technology-oriented society, have we dumbed down so much that we have ran out of new ideas, are we scared to take risks on trying something new and actually follow through with it?
With the Xoom2 being nearly identical to the original Xoom, the NOOK Tablet more of a souped-up NOOKcolor, the only thing I see this year that demonstrates some form of innovation, the one thing I believe that will make a difference is the Amazon Kindle Fire.
I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but Amazon seems to have figured things out better than the rest. While they went there before them, Apple seems to have gotten too comfortable with their success, taking the money-milking road, rather than pushing ahead of the pack, Amazon spent years on building the services to power the Kindle Fire.
Specifications are cool, but only mean something when they are actually used. The XBOX360 is almost 6 years old, and only now is it (supposedly) pushed to its limits. Tablets seem to have a lifespan of less than a year, at least that is what the manufacturers seem to have in mind with them. It took 6 years for multi-million-dollar projects of large game companies to reach the limits of their target device, so what are the chances that lower-budget app developers will accomplish that in less than a year?
B&N upped all the specs on the NOOKtablet to nearly double on everything vs. the Kindle Fire, but it doesn't have the content or the apps to back it all up. A dual-core processor is nice, 16GB of memory, expandable with 32GB and likely even 64GB SDcards is great, but all the content B&N offers themselves is mostly eBooks of a few MB. With Netflix and Hulu+ support, the amount of extra space doesn't get used either, since both are streaming services. Amazon has been building its music service (which resulted in Apple removing DRM from MP3's in iTunes in order to compete), its streaming video service (competing with both Netflix, Google Video, Blockbuster and Apple's iTunes store), its App Store (with free app of the day competing with Google's Android Market), and of course its server-based browsing technology, all integrated in a single device that happens to be tied to your Amazon account when you pull it out of the box (having you ready to buy stuff from Amazon as soon as you turn it on without the need to activate it or setup an account). Apple's main advantage over anything else was the tight integration of the services provided through iTunes, and while Google has been working on this AFTER the release of the first Android devices, Amazon got all this setup before the release of its tablet AND made use of both Apple and Google devices (Kindle App, Appstore) to gain a large user-base.
With B&N targeting the Kindle Fire purely based on specifications, but no actual content to back it up, I can see Amazon purchasing B&N in the near future.
This year, most companies just focused on specifications. Being faster, skinnier or offer more features than the competition. Next year, in order for these companies to be successful, they will have to focus on services, rather than specifications. What good is a Transformer Prime with a quad-core processor without anything other than a fancy 3D demo that makes full use of it.
A few years ago, Samsung released the Galaxy S phones. They came with a movie on them, and were advertised as great for movie playback, but besides the one movie that was preloaded on the phone, there was no way provided by Samsung to gain access to other movies.
What good is a Galaxy Nexus with a HD screen if you can only watch the movie on it that it might ship with?
Are our mobile gadgets now at the same point that computers were 10 years ago? Performance-wise they seems to be on-par, and with new operating systems (that require more space, more memory, and faster processors) releases coming out in quick succession, it sure looks like it.
The tablet still has not found its actual spot in our lives. Most people want one because they look cool, or because one of their friends/relatives has one, but the actual use is still something that is up for grabs. Many use it as a quick way to browse the web while watching TV, check emails or Facebook or something like that, others grab it and load it up with movies and TV shows, but for anything more, its often easier to just grab the laptop. People who choose a tablet over a laptop often run into complications and limitations, and the people who already use the little brother/sister of a tablet, a smartphone, end up disappointed because they don't offer much more than a larger screen/keyboard over their actual phone.
So in order to actually compete, these manufacturers need to find a way to create an actual tablet-oriented user experience by implementing services that compliment the tablet, rather than just the actual device itself. To me, a tablet is in its essence nothing more than the concept of the TV. TV, Tele Vision, remote-viewing. The hardware itself doesn't matter, a tablet provides you with a window. What you see in that window is what makes or breaks a tablet.
And another newsletter has come to an end. With the majority of the website work out of the way, the upcoming week will be spent on MovieGallery and ImageGallery again.
Have a great weekend,
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