Thank you for reading the 43rd DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
It has been a busy week this week (when isn't it). A major MovieGallery update, PS Vita release (for the people who pre-ordered) and of course the new Twilight movie available on DVD, I've had my hands full.
Let me start with the tech news.
*PS Vita. I'll go into more detail on that, but this week, the people who pre-ordered the next-generation of Sony's Playstation Portable received their Vita's in the mail. Is it worth it? While it is not a full review yet, I will express my opinions on my first day's worth of experiences with the Vita.
*Twilight Breaking Dawn DVD. For some reason, a lot of DVD tools choked on this movie, but, DVD Catalyst 4 works fine with it.
*Apple announced the next version of OSX, Mountain Lion (10.8). Looking through some of the features, it seems to blur the lines between iOS and OS X even more than it did with Lion (10.7), and my guess would be that soon Apple will be delivering a tablet MAC, xPad anyone?
*Next week Blackberry is supposedly releasing the 2.0 Playbook update. Will this finally make the Playbook the device it should have been last year on release?
This week I released MovieGallery 1.5. A bit quick after 1.4, but the changes are quite significant. The image loading part has been completely redone, reducing the chance of memory issues to a minimum. In addition to that, the settings have been overhauled, and quite a few other small tweaks.
For more information, have a look at the release notes here:
In the settings menu is also a link to a FAQ I posted on the tools4movies website:
and it was quite some time ago that I made a demo video for MovieGallery, so I created a new one:
DVD Catalyst News:
I still spent most of my time on MovieGallery this week, but I have been adding some new profiles to DVD Catalyst, and have been trying a few different things to make it faster. Hopefully somewhere in the upcoming week I'll have the update ready.
I updated the "Problem DVD" list on the website:
There were quite a few DVD (and Bluray) articles I posted on the website, but I didn't had all of them listed yet, so I got those added. (I also added the cover images for many of them). and of course this week, added a few new ones:
Age of Heroes
Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1
The Rum Diary
Aside from the MovieGallery and DVDs, I also wrote a guide on how to put movies on the new PS Vita:
PS Vita. Yesterday UPS delivered the PS Vita I pre-ordered. It was a bit of a torture, because a day earlier, the game I ordered to go with it, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, was delivered.
The system itself looks nice, and feels good in the hands, and it really looks like Sony learned from the original PSP when they had their designer team create this one.
Unfortunately, the GUI designers seemed to be people who just got out of college, and cared more about looks than functionality.
When I got the Vita out of the box yesterday, I started writing the how-to guide (http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/02/...kv-to-ps-vita/) right away. I hooked it to the charger and started getting things setup.
Last year, there were numerous complaints on the Playbook having a lengthy, mandatory setup process, well, the Vita is worse. I don't have a PS3, so I had to setup a PSN account. In order to get to the point of where I could transfer videos, I was about 30 minutes in. Not nice.
Then the actual video transfer part, well, the PS Vita seems to be focused on making sure that it doesn't get hacked so easily as the PSP, that connecting it to a computer is a challenge of its own. If you look at the last 15 pictures in the how-to guide, it shows the steps needed to copy a video file over to it. All initiated from the PS Vita, rather than just connect, drag over and done. Painful.
The games, well, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, looks amazing, and while I only played it for about 10 minutes so far, as high-paced as it is, the Vita runs it perfectly, so for a portable game console, it is really good. The rest, well not so much.
Video playback, just as what Sony did with the original PSP, seems limited by software rather than hardware. With the original PSP, to stimulate the (now dead) UMD movie format, Sony limited the video format as well as the screen resolution of video files. With an update (2.0 if I recall correctly) about half a year after release, they enabled the H264 video format (custom Sony settings of course) but the screen resolution was still limited in order to make UMD look a lot better. Finally after another year or so (firmware 3.0) the resolution was unlocked, mainly because UMD was on its deathbed at the time.
Everything about the Vita seems to be done to maximize profit rather than providing an amazing user-experience. It uses its own custom memory card type, which runs about 3x the price of a similar-sized Micro-SD card, the games themselves come on also custom-sized memory cards, and of course in order to actually do something with your Vita, a PSN account is mandatory.
So, do I think the Vita is worth it?
It all depends on what you expect from it.
For games, it rocks. Graphics are great, run smooth, and the control options are nice. Even though the touchpad at the back takes a bit to get used to, for a portable gaming system, the Vita is spot on, except for the loading issues. It seems like the data-loading speed is the same as that of the original PSP, however, with fancier graphics, there is more data to load, thus you sit there waiting for a bit while it is loading a level.
However, the rest is a let-down. The browser, I didn't do really that much with it, but it doesn't like streaming MP4 files. If you use something like MP4 Streaming Server, the Vita will download the video rather than actually stream it. On top of that, the actual download speed over Wi-Fi seems a bit slow.
Manual movie-transfer is a nightmare. Multiple steps that just don't seem to make sense. The format is (aside from some limitations) standard, so that is nice, but with its own custom memory card system, loading it up with a full season of TV shows is pricy and time consuming, aside from the actual conversion process. Hopefully, in a few weeks, some company comes out with a Micro-SD to Vita-SD adapter so that I can use my 32GB micro-SD's with it.
Rant: App Review Systems.
In quite a few newsletters I have talked about the shortcomings of review systems on App stores like Android Market and B&N. People post 1-star reviews to ask questions, People don't read the product description, and expect something totally different, and so on.
But, it goes deeper than that unfortunately.
Earlier this week (last Sunday to be exact) someone posted the worst review I have ever received on the Android Market, and even went as far as to challenge the way I provide customer support. This person started with (if you look deep enough) constructive criticism in a review on the paid version of MovieGallery, and a couple of hours later, the same person posted a rant as a review on MovieGallery Free.
Unfortunately, because there is no way for a developer to actually respond to these reviews, no comment, reply or some sort, it just sits there, making people wonder. The part that is missing is what happened between those 2 reviews.
This particular person contacted me by email on Sunday, after posting his first review. The conversation started with a generic comment of the newly added streaming connection part of the app not working on Google TV. "Why are you posting Movie Gallery for Google TV when it clearly doesn't work?"
Since no additional information was provided in the original email, or an actual question asked on how to get it working, I replied within 2 minutes or so, and explained that I actually have a Google TV (a revue) that I use for testing, and that MovieGallery connects nicely with it.
With the Google TV sitting next to me for testing, I fired up MovieGallery on it, started MP4 Server, made the connection and snapped some pictures of it running, and emailed those as proof of the application working, as it should.
From there, the communication just got worse. No actual questions were asked of me, and the suggestions and comments I offered were simply dismissed as "finger-pointing".
At the end, after a total of 18 emails (on a Sunday), I refunded the $2 purchase of MovieGallery, and while there were no complications with DVD Catalyst ($10), I refunded that as well.
10 minutes later, the rant-review was posted for MovieGallery Free, claiming bad customer service.
The kicker of all this is that about 6 hours after the bad review and the refund, this same person purchased MovieGallery again.
Another example is the review system eBay uses. I haven't used eBay for quite some time, but a few years ago, I purchased a few Christmas gifts through eBay, and one of the items I ordered (from 3 from the same merchant) arrived damaged. For the 2 that arrived, I left positive feedback, and I contacted the seller regarding the damaged one. After 2 weeks of no answer, I posted a negative review for the 3rd item, and within an hour, the seller nicely retaliated with 3 negative feedbacks for the purchases I made. Quite sad, but thankfully eBay at least has a way to provide comments on these "reviews", something that is needed on App store's
The thing is, there are always people that cannot be pleased, no matter how hard you try. While I can understand the frustration when something doesn't work for you, a support person can only help if you want to be helped. It doesn't help anyone if you just contact support to rant and rave.
This upcoming week I'll be working mostly on DVD Catalyst 4. A few missing profiles (Sony Tablet S, and a few others) were brought to my attention, so I will be adding those, and I'm trying a few things in order to speed things up a bit more for Bluray conversions (http://www.tools4movies.com/2011/08/...-bluray-guide/)
Also ImageGallery is on my to-do list. The changed made to the way MovieGallery loads images should work great for ImageGallery as well, so that will be one of the main changes I'll be working on.
Thank you for reading the DVD Catalyst Newsletter, and enjoy your weekend,