Thank you for reading the 30th DVD Catalyst Newsletter,
Finally a big week for technology. This week we had the release of the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet, the Galaxy Nexus (UK), Google’s Music shop, and a fair amount of announcements regarding new Tegra 3 devices from HTC and Acer.
The Kindle Fire was finally released. Since the announcement, I have written quite a few positive things about the Fire and Amazon’s plans and thoughts behind it. Now, after mine finally arrived, is my opinion different? Read a bit further down to find out.
To counter the Fire Barnes & Noble released the NOOK Tablet this week as well. While the specs are impressive for its price, I don’t see the Nook tablet as an actual competitor for the Fire though. While it might have better specs, the NOOK Tablet by itself doesn’t offer any additional functionality over the original NOOKcolor, and, while I am a big fan of the NOOKcolor, the fact remains that the NOOKcolor’s main reason for success was not anything that B&N did. Sure, it has an integrated book store, but for anything else, it is quite limited by itself.
The NOOKcolor gained a lot of functionality with the custom roms (CM7) and the N2A SDcard, which basically turned the NOOKcolor into something completely separate from B&N.
The B&N App Store is really limited, and as a developer who has some apps listed in it, I don’t have the feeling that B&N takes the NOOKcolor and NOOK Tablet that seriously. Apple’s main success with the iPad is because of the tight integration with all the services Apple offers through iTunes. Books, Music, Apps, Movies, TV Shows, all just 1 tap away. The NOOKcolor (and the NOOK Tablet), well, books is a 1 click, apps is a 1 click, but music, movies and TV shows, not so much. Of course DVD Catalyst has support for the NOOK Tablet, but for me, I’m not so sure if I will actually pick one up.
The Galaxy Nexus was released this week in the UK. Reviews are already popping up on popular websites. Along with the release, Google also posted the code for the new Android Ice Cream Sandwich, so I’m sure ports for other devices will start appearing very soon. NOOKcolor ICS anyone?
After quite a few months of speculation, Google launched its Music Store. Finally, Android is getting closer to catch up with Apple. With movies, apps, books and now music, easily accessible in the Android Market, I am expecting the market share the iPad currently has being reduced fairly quickly, unless Apple will come up with a worthy upgrade for the iPad3. Just adding an extra core to the iPad1 to make it an iPad2 is not going to cut it this time, especially with premium quad-core devices like the Asus Transformer Prime selling for less.
DVD Catalyst News:
The new website: As mentioned in the previous newsletter, www.tools4movies.com is no longer hosted by PowWeb. Last week the move of the site to a new host, GoDaddy, was completed. Along with the move, the website has been redesigned. There are still a few glitches with some links inside a few articles, but I am working on getting them fixed. If you do run into a complication with a link, please let me know.
Small moviegallery update: The Toshiba Thrive was updated, and (thank you Toshiba) for some reason, the sd and microsd locations internally were modified to a different location. Because Honeycomb mounts the internal storage to a virtual SD card location, real SD card locations are not set to a fixed location. Just about every major brand uses a different spot for it, which makes it a pain for developers, and now it seems that to mess with developers even more, these locations are changed with updates as well. Anyway, the Thrive update caused MovieGallery to no longer see the memorycards, so I uploaded 1.3.2 this week to address this specific issue.
There were no big DVD releases this week, so I did not see any reason of posting an article or 2 on certain DVDs. I did write about some of my experiences regarding the Kindle Fire:
Kindle Fire Review Review:
After I received the shipping notification for the Kindle Fire, I was watching a movie on the Playbook to get in the mood for it. After the movie was done, I was browsing the web a bit, and I stumbled upon a review of the Kindle Fire from WIRED.
Normally I don’t bother myself with crappy reviews, but this one triggered me to write a review of a review.
The review is so biased towards Apple, you would think that it was written by an Apple marketing manager him/herself. For a Kindle Fire review, it seemed that the word iPad was mentioned about 2x as much as Kindle Fire, the references to the size being too small to be useful told me that the reviewer is someone who always carries a 17″ laptop bag around, and mentioning that the Kindle (1024×600) is not “True” HD (1280×720), but the iPad(1024×768) actually is tells me that the reviewer doesn’t have a clue at all about screen size and resolution.
I know I have a strong opinion on certain things, but at least I make sure I get my facts straight, and the way I see it, even though the iPad has 168 lines more for a display, the fact that the iPad has a square screen and the Kindle Fire a wide-screen aspect ratio makes the Kindle Fire actually more HD than the iPad. Those 168 extra lines just provide you with larger black borders on top and bottom.
Kindle Fire Unboxing pics:
When the Kindle Fire arrived this week, I took some pictures of the box and the device, along with some comparison pictures of the Kindle Fire with some of my other current tablets (xoom, a100, playbook, nookcolor etc) to give you an idea of the size and looks. Even though it looks nearly identical to the playbook, it is slightly smaller. Sadly, it doesn’t have the touch-controls in the actual border around the screen
How to: DVD to Kindle Fire
Of course with a device as popular as the Kindle Fire, I added a How to guide for it on the tools4movies website. The Kindle Fire is actually quite easy when it comes to video files, except for one issue I ran into:
Kindle Fire file-size limit
When the Kindle Fire arrived, I already had a couple of video files lined up for it, but unfortunately one of them, a Bluray Rip I did of “The Fighter” did not want to play. After some digging and fiddling, I found out that the Kindle Fire doesn’t like video files larger than 2GB. At first I thought it had something to do with the settings, but when I used MP4 Streaming Server to stream the file to the Kindle Fire, it worked just fine.
As mentioned in the Review Review article, reviews are often biased. The Wired review clearly showed a bias towards the iPad/iPad2, and as a result, everything that was written had this dislike towards the Kindle Fire shown through.
Unfortunately, the internet is overfilled with these kinds of reviews, and even worse, fake reviews, especially in the video conversion market.
Almost all of my competitors make use of something called an “affiliate” system. This is an advertising system that enables the average person to become an advertiser for a product they like, and get paid for their efforts. The idea is great, however, when it comes to video conversion tools, the actual idea is severely abused. Software companies overprice their software ($40-$50) and then offer a 75% affiliate payout to whomever signs up and promotes their products. An “affiliate” promotes the software, and when someone uses that link to purchase, the affiliate gets 75% of the purchase price (if the app sells for $40, the affiliate gets $30 of that) and the software company gets 25% ($10 in this case).
In order to get people to purchase software using these affiliate links, websites and articles are created, forums are flooded with spam-posts, all to lure people into a purchase. All over the web, you will find websites that “review” programs and applications, compare them with other apps, and for whatever reason, “after trying a lot of different programs they found one that works the best”, which happens to be the exact same one that has the highest affiliate pay-out. They don’t care if it works, and in most cases have never even used the program they promote themselves, all they care about is that they get $30 for every sale they generate.
So when you are looking for reviews on something new, keep the above in mind. Always look around for reviews on other locations than just one site. If you are not sure about the integrity of the review, visit the product website and look for “Affiliate” near the top or bottom of the website.
Kindle Fire First Impressions:
Ever since the Kindle Fire was announced by Amazon, I have been looking forward to it. I’ve included my thoughts about it in quite a few newsletters, and now that it is finally here, I can honestly say, I’m not disappointed.
Of course all over the web, there are numerous reviews to be found, and I’ll be writing one probably somewhere this upcoming week (along with a streaming video article for it) but for now, here are some of the points of interest.
The Kindle Fire is the first Android device that I believe has the capability of taking on the iPad. While it might not be an actual iPad Killer, it does offer everything the iPad has to offer, in an easier to carry form factor. Now that Google released Google Music, it finally has the same types of content to offer as Apple does, however it still lacks the diversity content itself. Amazon has been building on this for years, making use of both the Apple and Google platforms to boost exposure, and combined with its physical-product store, it has one up on both, especially with its “Prime” service that connects it all together.
While the actual specifications of the Kindle Fire might be a bit disappointing when compared to all this quad core, sd slots, memory stuff, it actually offers a user experience rather than a high-tech device. With both Android and Apple holding onto a “desktop-like” experience, Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) broke the mold by making their content a bit more accessible, of course intended into purchasing through their stores, but still, it is really easy. No need to go to specific apps to get content, just go to the section you want, and pick what you want.
As I have mentioned in other reviews I wrote, my usage for tablets is mainly limited to video playback, so I don’t actually use any of them to their fullest capabilities. With the Kindle Fire, I did play a bit of Plants vs Zombies, I put some books on it, and that worked fine for me (I didn’t experience lag with page turns as what other people mentioned). Video-wise, the Kindle Fire is quite the powerful little tablet. Aside from the file-size limitation, I did not encounter playback issues with a variety of different MP4 video files. I even tried a small clip of pure Bluray-formatted video (1080p, h264, cabac, high profile etc) and it played without any complications. But, the 2GB limit is somewhat of a let-down. It also takes a longer time to actually copy files over to the Kindle Fire.
But, the commercialism does show through when you are actually using the Kindle Fire. As a “Prime” member, I was excited to finally have access to the free streaming content from something other than a PC. The TiVo connects to Amazon, but of course not the free content.
At nights this week, I’ve been watching TopGear from Amazon Prime on the Kindle Fire, and last night I finished a season, and of course the next season was not free. Prime does have a large collection of free content, but it seems that it is mainly to get you into something, and then charge you for the rest of it. Still the idea works better than just selling the episodes alone (iTunes) but it was a small letdown.
More about the Kindle Fire in the review next week, which, just like all other reviews you will find will have a personal perspective and bias in it, but, since my usage is mainly limited to video, web and email, it will not have a count of how many fart-apps are available for it.
Well, that is all for the 30th newsletter. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Have a great weekend, and make sure to check the news section on the website for new articles and the upcoming Kindle Fire Review.
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Tools4Movies Latest News section:
(the latest articles on the website, solutions for new-release DVDs if they are picky, release notes and new articles in general)
Kindle Fire Forum:
(the best user community for the Kindle Fire, if you have any questions its a worthy visit for sure)
How to: DVD Catalyst Kindle Fire:
(how to convert your DVDs, MKV's etc to play on the Kindle Fire)