Thank you for reading the 60th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
Last week was Apple week, and this week, it turned out to be Microsoft week. Of course there are quite a few different companies preparing for the new tablet-pc attempt of Microsoft regarding Windows 8, but who expected Microsoft to get into the hardware business themselves?
Of course some other things came up as well, including, finally, DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2.
Let me start with this week's Tech News:
After my rant in last week's newsletter regarding proprietary connections on portable devices, it seems, based on rumors floating around the web, Apple decided to make some changes as well. For quite some time, Apple has been using the same 30pin connection for its iPod/iPhone and iPad devices, but it appears that for the iPhone 5 / iPod Touch 5, a new connection will be used. This new connection port, supposedly to kill-off unlicensed accessory manufacturing companies, will be a bit smaller, but again, proprietary.
Since the release of the first iPod Video, I've gathered up a fair collection of iDevices, and one of the things I liked about them was that I just needed the one cable on my desk, and I could grab any one of them and charge/sync it. As I mentioned last week, I'm not pleased with the fact that I need a charger for my Xoom, my A100, and that the NOOK's use a different miniUSB connection for charging. Especially when I am in the middle of development, and need a collection of devices to test something, I end up knitting a sweater with charging cables, and on a near daily basis, I have to untangle them because it doesn't reach. Now, there will be yet another cable in the mix to deal with. One plus, the iPhone 5 cable will likely be white, so that makes it a bit easier to untangle.
Windows Phone 8 was announced this week.
Even though the reason why I do what I do is the result from Windows Mobile, after I moved away from my iPaq PocketPC, it seems Windows Mobile/Windows Phone has been dropping down as well. Being a 4th contender, after Android, Apple and Blackberry, Windows Phone just seems like an afterthought, and maybe Microsoft is just trying too hard to make it work. With the new Windows Phone 8, new hardware is required in order for it to run, and as powerful as it might seem, it does ignore the previous generation of devices. At least with Apple and Android, there are some upgrade options, enabling more functionality than what you started with, but with MS more or less abandoning Windows Phone 7 devices (not counting an afterthought shell-update), similar as what it did last year with the Kin, I don't see many people taking it seriously enough.
Also this week, Microsoft Surface. Originally a big table-touch-screen device, the name is now used for portable tablets.
I can see the reasoning behind it, and I always wanted a tablet that would run "full" Windows. What kept me from them so far was the pricing and performance. The current models all come with Intel GMA graphics of some sort, and are priced between $1000-$2000. For something that limited in performance, it just doesn't justify the price. For me, the perfect tablet would run something like Fallout 3/New Vegas, but that doesn't seem to be a reality. When the first rumors started to appear about the Surface, there were mentions about an XBOX-branded tablet, but now when the cat is out of the bag, it just seems to be a continuation of the same. Some upgraded specs, but still more of an Office tablet than anything else.
I hope that at least one of them will come out with a nice Core i7 and a dedicated nVidia GPU, but I'm not holding my breath. Maybe Microsoft's Smart Glass will work properly both ways.
Next week, it's Google's turn, and I'm looking forward to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) and of course the Nexus Tablet, supposedly a Transformer TF300/Prime competitor for under $200.
DVD Catalyst News:
Earlier this week (Wednesday evening) I released the 4.2 update for DVD Catalyst 4. Not as big in regards of changes as previous 0.1+ releases, but it is still a worthy update.
You can find the release notes here:
This week has been a bit chaotic for me. Some things in my personal life are taking up some of my time, so I didn't had time for much else. I did however write an interesting article regarding old smartphones:
TIP: What to do with old Smart Phones?
After writing about my Galaxy Player in a few newsletters, I have had a few people mention to me that they were looking for a smart media player. For me the main need for getting the Galaxy Player was for me to deal with some of the weird stuff Samsung does with their devices, otherwise I would have never gotten one, but quite a few people are of course looking for something like that.
The thing is, most people who are looking for a media player that compliments their smartphone are also ones that have been using smartphones for a while, and likely have upgraded once or twice.
For my trip, I picked the Galaxy Player, but I completely forgot I still had my Droid X somewhere in a drawer. Had I remembered, I would have taken that one instead. With the phone running in Airplane mode (its no longer activated anyway), it basically works just like the Galaxy Player. It takes my 32GB memorycards, it actually has a higher resolution than the Galaxy Player, and, it doesn't have as much extra crud loaded, making it actually run smoother and faster. It also charges over microUSB, and batterylife in general seems better as well.
So, just because it is a phone, it doesn't have to be used as one. It works great as a media player, and of course, if something happens to your current phone, you can always have it re-activated as a backup.
Aside from the smartphone article, I did had someone mention complications with Goon as well.
Regardless of the small settings change in order to get it to convert properly, the movie is actually pretty good. Because of the actor, I was expecting a different kind of movie, but even though it ended up being a bit more serious, I do think they picked the right guy for it.
I've said it before, and am saying it again, I hate TV.
It's not so much as the shows themselves, but it is the way things work. The commercials is of course one thing, but the actual system itself, regardless of what you use seems made to fail as well.
In a previous newsletter I mentioned I switched to Dish due to major issues with cable, its Hopper & Joey DVR setup seemed perfect for our needs. As a failsafe for bad weather, I did keep the cable hooked up, but with the cheapest cable subscription they offered.
This week, bad weather was a major cause for aggravation, but for some reason, the hopper has been acting up aside from that. Loss of signal is understandable, but laggy DVR browsing, half-recorded shows etc, all a major pain in the behind.
So this week, cable was better, but, of course we will run into issues with that as well.
So aside from putting up with commercials, do we need to have a dual-TV system setup in order to be able to watch the shows we want to watch, so one will act as a backup for the other?
Earlier this week Lego Batman 2 was released. I was actually looking forward to this one for the Vita.
The Lego games have always had something about that them, and the Vita is a perfect platform for the more casual and fun gameplay that they offer.
But, again, the Vita seems to disappoint.
Similar as with the PSP, the Vita is supposed to provide "console-quality" gaming, and while it actually can perform, someone decided that for the Lego Batman 2 game that they would just use the content created for the Nintendo 3DS, and stick it on the Vita, virtually unmodified. Low resolution video, and it seems that they used the engine from the previous Lego games to build this one. That, along with no mention of the Vita during Sony's E3 keynote makes me wonder if Sony is actually committed to the PS Vita the way they claim they are.
I want the Vita to be cool, and have picked up most of the top games for it, but honestly, they don't seem to hold my attention. I play them for a few hours, and then it wears off. Even the "killer" titles like Metal Gear Solid HD don't have much of a lasting appeal to me, maybe because it just feels like a tech-demo to show off the different features and capabilities of the Vita, rather than providing an actual gaming experience.
The Nintendo 3DS doesn't put itself out there in the same manner as the Vita, and Nintendo has always been more the friendly and fun type when it comes to games, and, with the help of Nintendo's collection of characters like Mario and Donkey Kong actually delivers. The Vita tries to compete with its bigger living room counterpart, the PS3, and, maybe because I don't have a PS3 myself, it just falls short.
Since Apple opened up the App Store about 4 years ago, prices for apps and games have changed. With games like Angry Birds relying on advertising rather than sales for the revenue, people are expecting great quality apps and games without paying much for it, so for companies putting out lackluster games with a price tag of $30-$40 on it is unacceptable.
As a developer myself, I completely understand the amount of time and effort that goes into delivering a digital product, but in order to compete with the smartphone market, they will have to do better than what is being done now.
Currently, Smartphones and tablets are offering better games for considerably less. The only reason I can think of that gives an advantage to dedicated gaming devices such as the 3DS and Vita are the controls, but with both putting a lot of focus on touch-controls, they are trying to compete with phones and tablets in the wrong area.
The PSP became a dream-portable after it got hacked. Not because of the piracy of games, but because suddenly it was capable of playing actual PS1 games. Being able to play the original WipeOut, Final Fantasy 7 and Tombraider 1 games on it made it a must-have device for me. The newer iterations of those games, WipeOut Pulse and Pure, Tombraider Legend/Anniversary and FF7 Crisis Core, even though developed specifically for the PSP, just didn't hold up, despite the better graphics.
Especially when it comes to a "Playstation Portable" or "Playstation Vita", people want a true portable version of the Playstation. There is no need to simplify the games to make them "more suited" for portable play. A full version of Fallout 3/Vegas or Oblivion/Skyrim, even with some watered down graphics if needed to play on the go would be a real reason for gaming on a portable device.
If they can put Grand Theft Auto 3 on a phone, why not something bigger and better on a dedicated gaming device that was made specifically for that?
Earlier this morning I had someone ask about streaming video to an iPad3, rather than transferring the files over. A little while ago, I wrote a guide on how to use my free MP4 Streaming Server application, which can be found here:
The streaming works for just about everything that has a web browser and can play MP4 video files.
Another question I get fairly often is regarding conversions for laptop/tv playback. Personally I prefer to use a format that I can use on my tablets as well as on my computer, so in general I use these settings:
which work on just about everything I have. The only thing is, some of the older devices have a screen-size limitation, such as an iPod Touch 3 (720x480) and the NOOK color (854x480).
The main thing for desktop conversions is to use a HQXT profile, along with a CRF setting of 20-24. More information about CRF can be found here:
These settings are also a great start on how to make your videos a bit smaller in size while maintaining a good quality as well. For more details on that, have a look at this article:
Well that is it for this week's newsletter. Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend,