Thank you for reading the 59th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
This week was Apple week. Apple did its yearly keynote with product announcements. Also this week, finally, one of the best games ever was released for the PS Vita, a developer managed to get iOS apps to run on a (brief pause) Blackberry Playbook, Acer announced a 1080p Android Tablet, and more.
Apple had a busy week. During this week's keynote, new Macbook's were announced. Of course refreshed with the new Ivy Bridge chips from Intel, but aside from that, the Macbook Pro now comes with a Retina display, making it the highest-resolution laptop available. Imagine being able to run a 1080p video at full resolution, while still having room to do other things. I want one, but not at the current price though.
Also announced was iOS6, the latest version of Apple's Mobile OS. While it has some new features, the one thing I find most interesting is that iPad1 support has been dropped in iOS6. This provides an interesting insight on how Apple views the tablet market. Even though it is similarly priced as a laptop, unlike laptops, the iPad's life-cycle regarding updates is only 2-2 1/2 years. While Android is not any better on this, and then I am not counting the magic of custom roms, for a company that likes to bring up Android fragmentation as an argument.
In a 5 year time period, iPod Touch G1, maximum iOS3, iPod Touch G2, maximum iOS4, iPod Touch G3, the 8GB model max iOS4, the others iOS5, iPad 1, iOS5, iPad2, iPod Touch 4, iOS6 (based on the trend). I can understand the reasoning behind it if the hardware would be considerably different, but in most cases, it is a software-lock that prevents it, forcing people to upgrade the hardware, even though it is capable of running the newer iOS versions.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was released for the PS Vita this week. Being somewhat of an old-timer when it comes to gaming, I was eagerly awaiting this one. While the release does bring some enjoyment for me, unfortunately, it did also resulted in some disappointment. More about that further down.
Big news for (like myself) Playbook owners. Earlier this week, someone posted over on the Crackberry forums that they managed to get iPhone and iPad apps to work on the Blackberry Playbook. Of course such a huge claim was met with disbelieve, however, after Crackberry did some communicating with the developer, they found it to be true.
Who knows how long it will take before Apple decides to send out its lawyer-squad, but if this gets released in some way, shape or form, it will surely mean that the Playbook might see a price increase again in the near future.
Acer announced the Iconica A700 Tablet this week, a true HD 1920x1080 Tegra3 tablet, and for a great price as well. Supposedly for all that, the bill would be $450. Having an A100, I am excited about the A700, however, the one thing I am worried about is battery life.
DVD Catalyst News:
I am finishing up DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2. Normally, a +0.1 update is something really big, like last year's Bluray update, but this time, it is mainly a few bugs. Ever since 184.108.40.206 was released, quite a few new features have been added, including the very powerful CRF setting, but I've marked them all as smaller version increases. So, after about a year of 4.1.x.x, I figured it was time to make it into v4.2.
But, I have been working with a website to release a branded-version of DVD Catalyst 4 (don't worry, same features and everything), which also starts with DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2.
Most of the week I have been working on matching articles for the branded DVD Catalyst 4 version, however, I did post up a few articles on my own website:
AINOL NOVO 7 Video Guide:
One of the more popular tablets from the affordable category. I don't have experience with the tablets myself, so I can't say anything about their quality and performance, however I have had a few people ask for instructions on how to put movies on them. The upcoming DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2 release has profiles for the variety of different models that Ainol has to offer.
John Carter (2012) DVD:
A small guide on how to convert the John Carter DVD.
Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows:
The first one required me to make some changes in code in order to get it to work, so I figured this one would be picky in a similar way, but fortunately, no complications whatsoever.
Metal Gear Solid HD for the PS Vita:
Ever since I picked up a PS Vita, I've been looking for a good use for it. With the way Sony hammered the thing shut, it is a pain to put movies on it, and everything you do on the Vita takes a while. It looks cool, but I believe it just misses the point, which became even more obvious to me last night when my wife asked if I dug up the old PSP again.
Anyway, my gaming experiences date back to the 80's, where, after school, I used to visit a buddy of mine who had a computer. It started with an MSX2 computer, something that was around next to the Commodore C64 system. Now, with the release of the Metal Gear Collection , one of my most beloved games from back then is playable on the Vita. The original MSX2 version of Metal Gear. Awesome
The thing that confuses me is that with such a powerful system, how can a 25 year old game (Metal Gear was released in 1987), with similarly dated graphics get me excited, while all the brand-new releases seem to be such a disappointment? Even the newer games Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 that came with the collection didn't seem to do that for me. Sure, the graphics look good (not great though) for those games, but aside from that, they don't seem to hold up to the original.
Looking at reviews for the Vita collection, most of them are all raving, but I don't know if it is because they never played the original one, or if they were under the influence of something, but aside from the graphics and a few gimmicks, it just feels like things stood still for 25 years. MGS3, it took me about 15 or so minutes before I got into the game to actually do something, and then there was another 10 minutes or so to go through after 2 button taps. When you get past that, you have an area to walk/crawl around in, and, just like in the original from 1987, it switches to a new area, and, on the Vita, this leads to a bit of waiting for the area to load. Sure, the area on the original was smaller, but the concept is the same.
What strikes me the most is that while the games for the Vita come on a "cartridge" style card, they are just flash-memory-based. Back in the day, Metal Gear was released on a cartridge, and was using ROM for storing the game. The early Nintendo and Sega systems, and even now the Nintendo DS games, all use similar ROM chips to store the game on, and as an advantage, loading times were virtually non-existent. With the original PSP, Sony used the UMD disc, and claimed that this was the reason for slow loading times, so by moving it to game-cards, this should be considerably faster.
I did play Metal Gear Solid 1 (not in the collection unfortunately) and that actually felt like an improvement, but with MGS2 and MGS3, it just feels more like cut-scenes and loading, with the game experience itself being somewhat of an afterthought.
But, at least the collection includes the original one, which will keep me entertained for hours.
To Konami, the company that created Metal Gear:
PLEASE re-release Kings Valley and Knightmare. If you just put those on a card or even stick them on PSN and I'd be in heaven. You can even use the emulation-code you used for the original Metal Gear.
Rant : Proprietary connections on devices.
Greed, that is what I call it, pure greed. With the Galaxy S3, Samsung decided to make a few changes to the HDMI connection on the phone, forcing people to purchase one of their special adapters in order to be able to connect it to a TV. This by itself is annoying enough, but the older Samsung phones that supported HDMI required a special adapter as well, and guess what, it is different.
While I hate it, it seems reasonable that as a company you try to maximize profit and implement things that don't have a "generic" solution for it, but for people who stick loyal to your brand, this is just a big burn.
For charging ports, a few years ago a law was put in place in Europe that eliminated a lot of grief. Thanks to that, I can now use the same charger for a Blackberry Playbook, NOOK color, Droid, DroidX, Kindle and a Galaxy Nexus.
With most gadgets I have, I tend to leave the charger that comes with it in the box, and already some devices will ship without an adapter, and just include a USB charging cable, but what about the rest of the connections?
Most HDMI-enabled devices either use the small micro-HDMI connection, and some, like the Toshiba Thrive, even has a full-size HDMI connection, but then there are devices that require you to pick up a custom adapter for it in order to get it to work.
Along with Samsung, Apple works in a similar way, and I guess, also by looking closer at Apple, as an excuse, Samsung now included a streaming application as an excuse, enabling you to wirelessly send your movies and songs to your TV, but, you will need to have an AppleTV eh Samsung Smart TV.
A few weeks ago, I had a hard time deciding which device I would take with me on a trip to see my parents. I have a very large collection of different devices, in all sizes. My requirements were pretty basic. I wanted something that would let me use memory cards so I could have a choice of what I wanted to watch, and, charging capability using a portable battery charger (a little box with 4 AA batteries and a USB port).
The Tegra devices I have, a Xoom and an Acer A100 were dismissed because they don't charge through USB, the iPad3, iPod Touch 4, Kindle Fire and Playbook fell out because of non-expandable memory, leaving me with the PS Vita, NOOK color, NOOK tablet and a Galaxy Player 5.0.
The Vita uses proprietary memorycards, and spending $100 for a 32GB card while I can get 3 of those in MicroSD for less, is just sad, so that fell out (it also saved me the aggravation of spending half a week trying to fill those cards), the NOOKs fell off because even though they use MicroUSB to charge, there is something with charging them through a non-Nook charger that makes them charge slower, so in the end all I had left was the Galaxy Player 5.0.
My experiences with the Galaxy Player 5.0 were not the greatest, but I mentioned that in detail in Newsletter 57, http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/06/...newsletter-57/
Since I use the devices I have for testing, I have them all on a shelf in my (small) office. The ones that charge with a normal microUSB port are ones I grab the most. For a few, like the iPod, iPad, Vita, Nook's, I have an adapter where I just plug in the USB cable, and for the others, the Xoom and the Acer, the adapter is accessible, but it is a hassle to grab and charge them, so usually they get used when I need to.
Of course my situation is quite different from most people, but with more and more people ending up getting more than one device (most people who have a tablet also have a smart phone), having dedicated power strips with adapters for just portable devices becomes more and more of a reality. With so many phones and tablets being released all the time, it seems that I'm now getting at a point of selecting them based on the connection ports, rather than specifications and price alone.
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Next week, Newsletter 60. Since it's been 10 newsletters since the 1-50 Collection eBook, I'll likely bundle them into ePub, Mobi and PDF files over on Smashwords again.
Thank you for reading this week's newsletter, and have a great weekend. See you next week,