DVD Catalyst Newsletter 71 - Kindle Fire HD
Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 71.
After weeks of 18-hour days, the new www.dvdcatalyst.com website is live. A lot of graphics-work, typing, sorting and organizing, but I am very pleased with the results, and am eager to hear what you think of it. More about the new site a bit later.
This month is becoming a big month. Amazon announced its new Kindle line-up yesterday, next week we have Apple's iPhone 5 event, and a week after that HTC is supposedly announcing a 1080p HD smart-phone.
Other big news this week was Nokia's announcement of new Lumia Windows Phone-based devices and Motorola's new Razr line-up.
Kindle Fire 2012 Lineup
Yesterday, Amazon had its 2012 product announcement.
The original Kindle Fire got updated with a faster, dual-core processor and better battery life, and now sells for $160.
The new models are a bit more interesting. In a similar size, Amazon now offers a Kindle Fire HD, available in a 16 GB ($200) and a 32GB($250) version, which has 1280x800 as a resolution vs the 1024x600 of the original one.
Then there are 8.9 models, with a full-HD 1080p+ (1920x1200) resolution, available in 16GB ($300) and 32GB ($370) and a 4G LTE model in 32GB ($500) and 64GB ($600) configuration.
Pricing of them is set directly against major competing tablets such as the NOOK color, NOOK tablet, iPad and the Nexus 7, however, just like last year, Amazon isn't just competing with price and specs. Along with the new Kindle's, it announced a whole host of new features.
Amazon's first batch of new tablets (the 7" ones) will be available next month, with the rest (the 8.9 ones) a month later.
More down below.
Motorola Razr HD /Razr Maxx HD.
Also announced this week, new Android phones from Motorola, the Razr M, Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD.
The Razr M is the new budget model, with the Maxx HD being the new top-end model. All 3 feature a quad-core processor and quite a large screen.
Of course, for the people wondering, DVD Catalyst 4 already includes profiles for the Razr HD and the Razr Maxx HD, the Razr M was a bit of a surprise, so it will be included in the next update.
Nokia Lumia 820 and Lumia 920.
Unfortunately, Nokia isn't what they used to be. After being on the forefront for quite a few years, they have been lagging a bit behind the likes of Apple, Motorola and Samsung.
With the new Lumia phones, they might be able to grab back some of their lost market share though. Sporting the Windows Phone 8 operating system, the devices seem to pack an impressive amount of performance and features, with one of the main features being a screen technology that makes it easier for you to use the phone while wearing gloves.
No profiles for these phones yet in DVD Catalyst 4, but they will be included in the next update.
Apple's keynote is next week, and it is pretty obvious that a new iPhone will be announced. Originally it was also rumored that Apple would present us with a smaller iPad, the iPad Mini, however, speculation in regards of a keynote next month will be used for that, along with possibly new iPod models.
HTC 1080p phone
Thanks to the success of the Samsung Galaxy Note, smartphones are venturing into tablet territory. For me, 7" is perfect for a tablet, but with phones now starting to come close to that, the need for carrying a tablet and a phone around is diminishing.
The last couple of weeks, pictures have started to float about that display a large HTC "phablet", which supposedly features a full 1080p HD screen resolution, making it the first true HD phone.
With a resolution like that only recently appearing in tablets like the Transformer Infinity and the Acer A700, it will be interesting to see how this would work.
Bluray Smuray. With Full HD being used at a consumer level already of course the successor of 1080p is already beginning to come to market. Companies like Sony and LG are releasing *)" TVs that offer 4 times the resolution of Bluray.
Don't worry though. Pricing is a bit much, and of course availability of 4K content is extremely limited. With 4x the resolution, also better compression technology for video is needed, or larger storage media.
It took a while before HDTV caught on for the masses, so your Bluray collection will not become useless just yet.
Ubisoft stops with "Always On" DRM.
After Ubisoft's factless claim regarding game piracy resulted in a flood of counter arguments on the web, including a brief description on some of their ideas in newsletter 69 from 2 weeks ago ( http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/08/...newsletter-69/ )
Ubisoft announced this week that they will loosen up a bit on DRM.
Hopefully it will be more than just an announcement, and that they will actually follow up on their words.
While I can understand the reasoning for DRM, the problem is, if it makes the life of your paying customers miserable, you are clearly doing something wrong.
DVD Catalyst News:
dvdcatalyst.com is back!
If you have been reading the newsletter for a while, or have been using DVD Catalyst since the early days of DVD Catalyst 3 or before, you are probably already aware of the complications I have had with the www.dvdcatalyst.com.
In August of 2008, right at the time DVD Catalyst won a few awards (Smartphone & PocketPC Magazine) and a LifeHacker.com article resulted in a lot of exposure, the hosting company I used for the website "accidentally lost" the www.dvdcatalyst.com domain name.
Supposedly, the creditcard used for auto-renewal was expired and notices of the domain registrar were sent to an un-monitored email account, and at the worst possible moment, it was like a light switch was switched off, and my website was gone.
Of course there are procedures for this, but unfortunately, there was a battle regarding involved fees between my host and the registrar, which resulted in an expiration on the re-activation period.
Since then, an advertising page was posted on the domain, and of course a "You can buy this domain" link as well. With the domain gone, of course everything tied to it was in shambles as well, so ponying up 5 grand to purchase the domain back was not an option. Since then I continued on the www.tools4movies.com website.
Last year, the www.dvdcatalyst.com domain was set to expire, so I enabled GoDaddy's "domain buy" system to snatch it up as soon as it became available. Unfortunately this didn't work, resulting in someone else obtaining ownership of the domain.
For months it remained unused, and with domain privacy enabled on it, it was impossible to determine who purchased it. I tried a few other routes in order to get it back, different bids etc, but all was ignored, so I gave up.
Then, the website started to offer a fake "DVD Catalyst" application. Supposedly small stuff, but still, something with the same name and similar functionality resulted in a lot of confusion. Because of this ordeal, I received numerous emails with questions and issue reports about it, and even in a comment section on the website, people expressed confusion about it, with responses from the "site-owner" claiming its related but new.
That forced my hand, and with some deeper digging, tracing links, ip addresses etc, and with some luck (domain privacy expired), managed to determine who was doing this, and what "company" they work for.
I will not mention names, but I had my suspicions, and they proved true.
With the information found, and thanks to some procedures and a lawyer, I was able to get the www.dvdcatalyst.com domain back in June.
Since then, I have been working on different design concepts. Something clean, easy, something that resembles how DVD Catalyst works. During that time, I had it forward to the tools4movies.com website, but as of this week, the new website is live.
When designing the website, I wanted something with a unique look (most of the websites of my competitors out there look the same aside from the theme color) and that would make it really easy for anyone to find what they are looking for. And, considering DVD Catalyst is all about visual quality with movies and such, I wanted it to have a visual focus.
For many of the guides I want to include videos, but unfortunately, the gadget I picked up to record video from tablets is non-functional, so the videos will come at a later date.
Of course Tools4Movies.com will remain in use as well, but it will continue to have more of a "blog" feel.
Anyway, have a look at the new website on www.dvdcatalyst.com and let me know what you think.
Not much this week, due to all my time and energy being put into the new dvdcatalyst.com website, however, I did post up my experiences with a HDMI recording device that was recently released, the GC1000 from Diamond Multimedia:
Unfortunately, Diamond still has not responded to my support request from a week ago. My refund was approved through the company whom I purchased from, however, I was hoping to get it to work.
Diamond Multimedia Support.
Or lack there-of.
As mentioned above, last week, I picked up a video recording device from Diamond Multimedia, the GC1000.
For the new website, I wanted to include a collection of videos that would provide additional information on how to put movies on different devices, and with the majority of devices having an HDMI output, the GC1000 was precisely what I needed. Just hook up a tablet to the box, and record the screen output into a video.
From the start I had my suspicions about a faulty device, the HDMI loop-through had discoloration (a hue over the TV screen), but I continued to fiddle with it.
Unfortunately, the main functionality that I needed, HDMI recording, was non-functional. At first I thought it was a driver-issue, but after hooking up a DVR to a different input, it worked fine.. Maybe it was the computer I was using (an older Dual-core laptop) so I tried it on a few different machines, but somehow my last-year Asus didn't even work with it at all, and an older XP machine was just too slow to handle the video from the DVR.
So I tried different HDMI devices, including a Playbook, which has quite a few different display-mode options you can set for the HDMI port, and, since it was advertised as to be used with it, I hooked up my XBOX360. All without success.
So, I ended up doing something I hardly ever do, I called their support department.
Either it was because it was a Friday before a long weekend, or because I wasn't the only one who was having a hard time, but after 20 minutes on hold, I finally got to talk to someone. Coming from a history of support positions, I stayed nice (its not the guy's fault that my device isn't working), and explained what was happening, and about halfway during my explanation on what I tried, the guy interrupted me, and told me that he was "just taking calls", and would have a tech support rep call me within the hour.
3 hours later, I decided that it would probably be better if I filed a support ticket online regarding my issue.
Which remains "unviewed" for over 6 days as of this moment. Of course, I never received a call-back either.
For a $150 purchase, this is unacceptable. I can understand a non-Weekend policy, and for a big company to use a 48hr response policy, but this is just ridiculous.
I've always had good experiences with Diamond Multimedia. In the past I have owned and worked with (I worked in a big computer store that sold their entire line for a couple of years) 100's of different video cards, add-on cards (Monster 3D etc), MP3 players (Diamond Rio) Supra modems etc, and they were quite good with support, but since then, they have merged, restructured and have been bought out a few times. They have had some hardship, so trying to cut cost is understandable, but a full week without any response is not the way to cut corners. It could be that my experience is a fluke though.
Amazon Kindle Fire.
The Kindle Fire is, in my opinion, one of the biggest surprises of last year. Amazon showed the world that it takes more than just fancy specifications in order to release a great product.
With the Fire, Amazon did not just release yet another tablet, but it created a window to all its connected services. Everything was well-thought-out, and all of Amazon's core services were tightly integrated into a single device.
Easy access to Amazon.com, Amazon's Appstore, Amazon's Kindle books, Amazon Prime Instant Video and a web browser that let Amazon's servers do the heavy lifting.
Of course, at its core, the Kindle Fire was designed to maximize Amazon's own revenue.
With browsing passing through their servers, they are able to learn your next move, with their Prime service, they get an idea of what shows/movies you watch, with your purchases of books, songs and physical products, they get to know you really well.
With all these services connected to one account, which is even setup on the Fire if you purchase one from Amazon.com, they have a wealth of information to make it easier for them to offer advertising that is more likely of your interest.
While companies like Apple and Google both have their own video distribution system, paying retail pricing ($15 for Cap) for a Digital Download movie loaded with DRM is not the way I believe it should be. If you buy 6 movies in a year, you are already cheaper with Amazon Prime, and then I'm not counting the rest of the content that comes with it.
With the new Kindle Fire models, Amazon included a host of new stuff. Stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio, dual-antenna WiFi, IMDB movie integration while you watch, cloud-storage for game-saves and a whole bunch more. And, just last week, Amazon struck a deal that added top movies like Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America to Amazon Prime, enabling members of the service ($80/yr) to watch these and a whole host of other movies and TV shows for free.
Amazon Prime is the big difference between Amazon and the rest of the competition.
As many of you know, I'm not too pleased with purchasing movies and TV shows in a non-physical form. Digital Copies, Digital Download, Ultra Violet, iTunes, all these videos come with an expiration date. The DRM on these files prevents you from using them in a way other than watching them on authorized devices, there is no way to transfer your movies from one service to another if you ever decide to switch from one device group to another, and who knows what happens to your collection when a company decides to go out of business or even something as little as a movie studio opting out of a renewal of a deal, so I have absolutely no interest of paying almost retail price for a movie video file that I might not be able to watch 5 years from now.
But, with Amazon Prime, you gain access to a wealth of such content for free (well, included with your membership), which makes things a bit different. On top of that, with some DVDs/Blurays you purchase through Amazon, you get instant access to the digital version, eliminating the hassle of entering a code or setting up an account somewhere else.
Another thing new and useful that Amazon announced is Kid mode. This will win over a lot of parents. One of the gripes people have with current tablets is that when they end up letting their kids play with it, they have a nice surprise on their creditcard statement at the end of the month in regards of Smurfberries. With companies releasing free-to-play apps with a big focus on in-app purchases, parents are often unaware of what actually goes on in a game, and with credit-cards tied to an account setup on-device, being able to prevent children from spending $100's on Smurfberries is something quite big.
Of course with a 4G LTE model being available, it was to be expected that Amazon would offer some service plans for it as well.
It already established a deal with ATT for the Kindle 3G version, enabling users to purchase books where-ever they are (well, if there is reception), and for the Kindle Fire HD 4G model, they expanded on this by offering a 250MB/mo plan for $50 a year, which is quite interesting.
However, Amazon might be pushing it a bit though. While unconfirmed and not announced yesterday, supposedly, the new Kindle Fire models will have advertising in the lock-screen. While I don't consider it a deal-breaker and if it remains in the lock-screen, it would be fine for me, the thing is, if the new Kindle Fire models do have advertising in order set-off the price a bit for Amazon, they should at least mention it and offer an option to remove them. But, with root being established on the original Kindle Fire in a very short time, I'm sure that a solution for removing the ads would be made available in no time at all.
Either way, I'm really looking forward to the new Kindle Fire models.
Thank you for reading this weeks newsletter, and see you next week,