Spring is finally here. Of course it started a few weeks ago, but the last week, weather picked up pretty good, and the wife is having a blast in the yard to get things re-organized. She wanted to start with it last week, but the roads were fixed in the street, and our driveway has been redone, so she started this week instead.
I'm not too much into the yard work myself, and if it was up to me, I would have bribed the guys who poured the driveway to make the rest of the yard a nice concrete slab as well, but I guess it doesn't look bad with the plants either.
In tech-world, things are finally starting to pick up again.
This week, a lot of things started floating about regarding the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and the Asus TF300 has been getting quite some exposure as well.
So, let's get started:
After a couple of months of tech-drought, things are picking up again. New devices are announced and even released. Updates are sent out to make last-gen devices more current.
While people in other parts of the world have already received the update to ICS for their Acer A100/A500 tablets, unfortunately I am still waiting on mine. It will stillbe a few days, but I am quite excited to see what my small little A100 is capable of with ICS on it. Reviews from people who already received the update have been quite positive.
- Acer A-series ICS update.
A lot of talk but nothing concrete yet. Based on the rumor mill, it seems the GSIII will feature a quad-core processor of Samsung themselves. Some benchmarks have been popping up, and it will be blazing fast, if those can be believed. The main specs regarding video playback have been known for a while, so of course DVD Catalyst 4 already has profiles for it.
- Samsung Galaxy SIII.
This week, Intel's new chips were made available. New laptops, ultrabooks and powerful desktops are being announced on a near daily basis. If you do a lot of video stuff, and are in the market for a new system, I'd definitely recommend waiting for one of the new models. Especially with a new i7, you will surely cut off some of your valuable time from your conversions. I know I want one.
- Intel Ivy Bridge.
It seems that 2012 is the year of the cloud. Everyone and their sister are releasing services to enable you to store your files on the web. Great for backup, and even if you don't have access to your own device, using cloud-storage enables you to still access your important files using a replacement device, or a borrowed one. Now, among numerous companies have been eyeballing your money in trade for online storage, Google joined the fray, and of course offers a great integration with Android devices.
- Google Drive.
While I briefly played with a few of these services, I prefer to keep my personal stuff away from the web. Aside from a lengthy upload time (internet providers usually offer only 1/4th of your internet speed for uploading files to the web), my important data is something I rather keep safe myself.
DVD Catalyst 4 News
As promised in last week's newsletter (and the one before), I have been working on an update for DVD Catalyst 4 that improves multi-channel audio support. I ran into some snags, but finally managed to get those resolved, and as a result a few days ago, I released
The main focus of this update was the inclusion of new, high-quality profiles that can be used with HD Media Players like the WDTV, keeping great quality video, while maintaining the original audio quality.
- DVD Catalyst 4 v188.8.131.52
In addition to the new formats, also new device profiles were added, such as profiles for the HTC One series.
Full release notes here:
and more info about the new profiles here:
Aside from the 2 articles mentioned above, I only included one additional post,
- Contraband (2012) DVD
After hearing about it from a buddy of mine, I was excited to watch the movie, but because of the additional time I spent on the new formats in DVD Catalyst 4, I haven't gotten to it. For the same reason, I also haven't been able to finish up the file-size article I mentioned in last week's newsletter.
In last week's newsletter, I wrote about how you can adjust the file-size of your videos while still maintaining a watchable quality. Since I got a lot of positive feedback on that, I figured this week I share some additional conversion tips as well.
DVD Catalyst 4 Tips:
I get this question on a regular basis. If you have a fair collection of different devices, for example, an iPad, a NOOK color, a Galaxy S2, a Kindle Fire and an iPod Touch, what if you want to convert your movie just once so that it will play on all your devices?
- Multi-device files.
Thankfully, most devices on the market today are designed to play video files in MP4 format, so that makes it easier, however in order to create MP4 files that will play on all your devices, the one thing you have to take into account the limitations of each device, and make sure that your video files do not exceed that has the lowest limits.
Aside from the video and audio format, the screen resolution is what mainly affects compatibility with certain devices.
If you use DVD Catalyst 4, you can simply look at the profiles for each of the devices you have. Just look for (if available) HQ of HD profiles for each device, and compare them in order to determine what the highest settings are for your devices, and then simply select the profile that uses the lowest settings. You can also look at the specifications for each device on the product website, which should give you a good indication as to what each device is capable of as well, but in some cases the specifications are not fully accurate. If you take the iPod Touch / iPhone devices (not the 4th generation) Apple lists the maximum screen resolution as 640x480 (http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone-3gs/specs.html ), however, they are actually capable of playing videos at 720x480.
On those devices, you wouldn't notice much of a difference, but if you are creating files that also play on larger-screen devices, every little bit extra you can put into a video file will help.
So for the devices mentioned above, here are their screensize limitations:
iPad. It depends on which model. The original iPad 1 and iPad2 are restricted to 1280x720, and the new iPad 3 can play 1920x1080 video.
NOOKcolor. This is capable of playing video at a maximum screensize of 854x480.
The Galaxy S2 is quite powerful, and most models are capable of 1920x1080.
The Kindle Fire is also capable of 1920x1080 video.
Similar as the iPads, the iPod Touch (and iPhone) previous generation models can lay (unlike the specs say) 720x480, while 4th generation models can play 1280x720 video.
From the above selection of devices, if you are using an older iPhone or iPod Touch, the maximum screensize you can use to maintain compatibility with all your devices would be 720x480.
If you have a 4th generation iPhone/iPod Touch, the NOOKcolor would be the one with the lowest screen resolution.
Directly connected to the settings you use for your conversion is the actual quality and resolution of your source videos.
If we take the same collection of devices, we either have the iPod Touch' 720x480 as a limit, or the 854x480 of the NOOKcolor.
If you convert Bluray movies, the original resolution of your movies is 1920x1080, but when you convert a DVD, the resolution of your source video is somewhere around 850x480.
For the NOOKcolor's 854x480 limitation, only the Bluray videos will be resized to match the limitation, but DVDs are similar in resolution as that of what the NOOKcolor is capable of, so those will remain the original resolution. For the iPod Touch limitation, regardless of what you convert, it will be down-sized to 720x480, but the resolution is so close to that of a DVD, the difference is minimal if you convert from DVDs.
So, aside from the device limitations themselves, to make your video files compatible with more than just one device, also take into account what you are actually converting.
On a side-note, if the difference between your lowest device is far off from the original source resolution (DVD/Bluray) and there is a big difference between the next device, it might be interesting to convert your movie twice. Once using settings compatible with most of your devices, and another time using settings better for the lowest ones.
If you use an iPod Nano for example (320x240 screen resolution, 640x480 max) and the rest of your devices are capable of HD video, converting your movie to compatible HD settings and to a small, lower quality 320x240 file for the Nano would be better. Playing a 640x480 video on a new iPad or Transformer Prime is not really bad, but if you are converting from an HD source such as a Bluray or an HD MKV file, you will get a way better video experience if you convert it using HD settings.
If you are creating video files for more than one device, and decided to create more than one file to have good quality for the majority, and a smaller file for the smaller devices, you can use DVD Catalyst 4's unique "Multi-Device" feature.
- Multi-device conversions.
With the "Power User" mode enabled, you can queue up multiple device profiles in DVD Catalyst 4, and for each file/dvd/movie you convert, it will convert once for each profile you selected.
For more information on how this works, have a look at this small youtube video:
Earlier this morning, I was skimming through my G+, and found a post on "Knowing Computers".
- Knowing computers.
The picture reminded me of how it was before I started doing what I do now. I started getting into IT after I hurt my knee in the army. After a medical discharge, I started working for a large computer store, and suddenly old class mates (even ones that never talked to me in class) started calling me in the evenings, asking to help with their computer issues.
I don't mind helping people out when I can, but it is just sad that people who never cared for you to begin with, suddenly start calling you and pretend to be all nicey nice, just to get you to help them fix their computers, and of course, expect it to be done for free. "Hey, how are you doing, long time no see", and then it comes. "Oh, I got this computer ....".
Since I started my own company, thankfully this has changed, but still every now and then, I get calls at 9pm on a Sunday evening because someone lost their internet connection.
- Collection of the updated DVD Catalyst 4 guides for many popular devices.
- The DVD Catalyst newsletter section on www.tools4movies.com.
- DVD Catalyst newsletter signup.
- How to remove black borders from your movies.
- How to use DVD Catalyst 4 with Bluray.
With the weather the way it is now, it looks like this weekend I'll be stuck doing yard-work. My wife wants a small green-house so she can raise some plants and vegetables, so it will be a trip to the hardware store for some two-by's and some plastic.
Anyway, that is it for this week's DVD Catalyst Newsletter. Thank you for reading, and have a nice weekend.