Thank you for reading the second DVD Catalyst newsletter of 2012.
It has been a big week this week. It finally started snowing, CES, one of the biggest (well, used to be) electronics shows in the world and a new DVD Catalyst update with some big new features in it.
Let me start with the tech news:
CES, The Consumer Electronics Show. Its having its last day today, and who knows if they will be back next year with a bunch of big-name companies dropping out, but still a few cool devices were shown.
Unfortunately, there really wasnít that much new cool tech on CES. It looks like the tablet-race is still going strong, some 3D TVs, ultrabooks (successor of the netbooks) and that is basically it.
Acer had the A700 on display, an Android tablet with a true 1080p screen resolution. Iím not sure what to think of it though. Itís cool, but since most of the tablets are sticking to the 720p resolution, Iím not sure what the benefit would be. Developers are not likely going to create special builds of their apps/games for it, and while it would be great for 1080p video playback on the device itself, the space your video files take up on it (10GB per movie or so to justify the quality) seems a bit of a waste to me.
Roku announced a Roku Stick, a usb pen drive-sized Roku Media Player which is powered by the HDMI port (MHL-compatible), so no wires or anything. It will surely clean up some cable messes, so I am looking forward to that one.
Then, while they were likely hoping to get buried among all the CES news, Warner Bros announced that there is now a 56 day wait for new releases to be available through rental from Netflix.
Iím not sure what they are trying to achieve with the decision, but I donít think it will result in more sales of DVDs. If people canít afford purchasing new-release movies, they will find other ways to obtain them. Red Box has a shorter wait time, so they will likely see more business because of this move, or people will just borrow the movies from their friends that do purchase them, and they will lose out all together.
DVD Catalyst News:
DVD Catalyst 4 v18.104.22.168 was released yesterday !
A lot of work went into this version.
One of the biggest things in the update is a feature called CRF, which basically eliminates the need for different profiles for many of the popular devices. For more information, have a look at the release notes. I included some screenshots to show the difference in quality between different settings, and the resulting file-sizes.
In addition to CRF, I also added support for the VTech InnoTab Learning Tablet. It is a bit picky regarding formats, so I actually ordered one and made a few profiles for it.
In addition to the changes mentioned in the release notes, I forgot to mention that I also changed the web-link behavior. Rather than opening it in Internet Explorer, it now opens links in your default browser.
If no major issues arise with the new DVD Catalyst 4 update, my weekend will be spent on finishing up the update for MovieGallery.
Device profiles explained:
While not really important for devices that have a screen size similar to that of a DVD, if you are converting movies for larger-screen devices, settings you would use for a DVD would not work well for higher resolution video content. Because of this, a fair collection of devices have multiple profiles in DVD Catalyst 4. This article explains what they are for, and how they are intended to be used.
How to put DVDs and movies on the VTech InnoTab Learning Tablet
The VTech InnoTab has quickly turned into one of the more popular devices sold during Christmas time. Sold-out nearly everywhere, and a waiting list you can sign up for on their own website, the one thing that is a bit tricky to do is putting your own movies on it. After spending a considerable amount of time testing different video types, I added profiles to it in DVD Catalyst 22.214.171.124, and wrote this guide to accompany the profiles, making it as easy as possible.
I had a few reports on DVDs that were reported to be a bit tricky.
An oldie, but it slipped my mind, and I was reminded of it a week or so ago, so I figured Iíd order it and put it through its paces.
This one was fine when it was released, but someone ran into complications with it, and I figured since I didnít have the movie, I might as well pick it up and see what happens with it.
The Scorpion King 3
Just one I picked up at the store during groceries.
Laptop DVD drives:
One of the most common issues that people contact me about are about DVDs not being recognized. While in some cases, this can be fixed by a simple settings-change in DVD Catalyst, it also depends on the DVD drive you use.
When I first started development of DVD Catalyst, I was using an old IBM Thinkpad T20 laptop, and fairly quickly I ran into complications with the DVD drive. The laptop DVD drive had issues with CDRís and DVDRs, which is unfortunate, but it happens. However, it also was quite picky with recognizing DVDs.
In order for a conversion tool such as DVD Catalyst to be able to convert your DVD, the DVD drive has to at least recognize the DVD, but with my old IBM, it was a constant battle to get DVDs recognized by the drive. I replaced the drive a few times, from a play DVD ROM drive to a CDR/DVD combo drive, and then another DVD ROM drive, but all 3 had the same problem. Rather than fighting with it, I just picked up an external USB drive case and a Lite-On DVD burner, and I no longer had to fight with the drive in order to get it to read.
With that being nearly 10 years ago, you would think technology got better, but unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth. Most Laptop DVD drives are still as crappy as they were back then. Maybe it is because Sony and Disney keep ďimprovingĒ their DVDs to get you to buy new drives and players.
Now I am using an Asus laptop for development, and before that, I upgraded the IBM to a Dell laptop, and with all 3, I encountered the same issues with getting them to read DVDs. Firmware updates make some of them work, but I would just wish that rather than being cheap in parts that the companies that build these laptops would actually spent a few bucks more on their optical drives. Even if you donít use the laptop for your conversions, but just want to watch a movie, why is it that with some newer movies you end up spending more time on trying to get it to play than to actually watch it. They can do it properly (most of the time) with desktop-drives, but with these laptop/slim-drives, it is always a struggle, and if you spent 1200-1500 on a decent laptop, should you at least get a working drive?
Last year when I bought the Asus laptop, fresh out of the box I tried to burn the recovery disk set, and after 6 coasters (half-burned DVDs) I gave up, and hooked up my external drive, and got it done.
Supposedly this year is going to be the year of the ultrabook, skinny laptops, similar but larger than netbooks (eeePC)but more powerful. And, just like netbooks, many of them lack a drive. If you do pick up one of these ultrabooks, and are looking for a DVD drive for it, please donít go for one of those portable , usb powered laptop drives. I know the full size external drives are bulky and usually quite ugly, but, if you want something that works, thats what to get.
I upgraded my Lite-On drive after 6 years of (heavy) use and have since been using an external HP burner (dvd1170) for testing and conversions. I swear by it.
Now something completely different.
I want to talk about garbage bags.
Laugh as you please, but as I imagine most men deal with at home, Iím responsible for the task of taking out the trash. It is not that big of a deal, I usually just walk through the place and empty the garbage cans whenever they are getting close to full, but every now and then, especially the one in the kitchen, it gets overfilled a bit, and when you try and take out the bag, things fall out, making a mess.
The one solution for this that I found is that if I get the 30-gallon leaf-bags from the store, it makes things a lot easier, but even then, the larger garbage can in the kitchen can give problems.
So, earlier this week, I got my 2 rolls of 30 gallon Ruffies, and when I was emptying the garbage cans and putting a new bag in them, I had a hard time finding the end of the bag. Usually it is just an arm-stretch to get to the cut, but it wasnít there. As it turns out, I had an error-cut roll of bags; The roll alternates between a half-gallon bag (useless of course) and a 59 1/2 gallon bag! Amazing !!!
I donít know why I got so excited over a supersized garbage bag, but it is an absolute dream for me. With garbage bags that size, it is impossible to overflow the garbage can to a point that you have to get another garbage can just to put the overflow into.
I already used the contact form on the website of the company that creates them (http://www.berryplastics.com/catalog/contact ) to request them to actually make it an official product.
If you see yourself in a similar scenario as me, please take the time and fill out the contact form to request the larger garbage bags. Even if they would go up to 45 gallon-size bags, it would change my life.
This week, I spent most of my time on the new CRF feature for MP4 files (most Apple and Android profiles) in DVD Catalyst 4. I will try and write a more detailed article on what it does, and how to use it this week, as well as update the profile-article I wrote this week to contain some information on it, but for now, all I can say about it is ďuse itĒ. Really. Give it a shot, see if your device can handle it. Last night I converted Speed Racer using the standard Xoom profile with the default CRF 26, and for such a fast movie, it looked great at less than 1GB in size! If you really want quality, I would suggest to go to 22 or even 20 though.
The release notes ( http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/01/dvd-catalyst-v-release-notes-2/ ) has some info and screenshots on CRF.
And that is it for this weekís DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
Thanks again for reading it, and have a great weekend. Stay warm