Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 74.
With companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, HTC and Motorola pushing out their new device-line up, this week it was up to Barnes & Noble to announce their new NOOK tablets, and their new video service.
This week, Android turned 4 this week (and Google turned 14). If you look at the amount of Android devices that are available and in use today, it is hard to believe that it was only 4 years ago that the Google Phone became a reality.
Barnes and Noble NOOK HD and NOOK HD+
This week, the successors of the NOOK color and the NOOK tablet were announced. The NOOK HD, similar in size to both NOOKs, but of course ups the specs a bit. In fact, looking at a comparison between the Kindle Fire HD and the NOOK HD, B&N it looks like B&N did whatever they could to take it a small step above the Fire HD in just about every way:
Slightly higher resolution, slightly faster processor etc.
Of course the information is a bit one-sided, but one of the big things the NOOK's have over the Kindle Fire and most other tablets in the same size, such as the Nexus 7 is the inclusion of a MicroSD slot.
Both the NOOK HD and its bigger brother, the NOOK HD+ are available for pre-order now, and should ship at the beginning of November.
Along with the new NOOKs, B&N is finally starting its own video service. One of the biggest issues with the NOOK color and NOOK tablet since they were released was that the majority of its capabilities were not made use of by B&N. Both NOOKs were perfectly capable for playing movies and TV shows, but aside from a few streaming solutions such as Netflix, B&N did not offer any way for its customers to purchase movies and shows to play on their devices. For its own video service, B&N struck deals with companies like HBO, Sony, Warner Brothers and Disney. to offer a variety of different movies and tv shows for rent and purchase so you can watch them on your NOOK.
On one of the tech sites I visit, I stumbled upon an announcement for a interesting camera product.
The digital camera market has been having a hard time since our phones started to include digital cameras. You always have your phone with you, making it easy to shoot pictures whenever and where ever, and with cameras, since it only serves one purpose, taking pictures, you have to carry it as an extra.
While the Autographer doesn't change that, it does offer a bit more than an average digital camera.
* From their website:
http://www.omgplc.com/news/2012/159/...ched-to-marketAutographer can capture thousands of high resolution photos every day through its custom designed wide-angle lens, while an Autographer stop-frame video lets you see a whole day’s activity in a few minutes.
The idea is simple. It archives your day for you by means of taking pictures throughout the day. For the avid picture snapper, I'm sure that the Autographer will be quite useful, but I prefer to take pictures myself.
In an attempt to take up a bit more share from Netflix, Redbox is working on adding video streaming service to its product-line. Currently in alpha-testing, supposedly the service will be available around the end of the year.
Android turned 4 this week.
Last Sunday, marked the 4th birthday of Android 1.0. On Sept 23, 2008 Google announced on its Android Developers Blog the availability of Android 1.0.
Now, 4 years later, it seems surreal that it has only been 4 years. Everywhere you look, you see devices running Android, cellphones, tablets, media devices and much more. While the first Android phones sold well, it wasn't until the release of the Droid phones, starting with the original Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid Incredible before it really took off and became the direct alternative to Apple's iPhone.
In celebration of Google getting 25 billion app downloads though its Google Play store, they are currently running a $0.25 special on a couple of popular apps and games.
Ubuntu & Amazon advertising:
After 21 years, it was bound to happen. Free software becomes, well, less free. Canonical, the main company behind one of the most-used Linux distributions for desktop use, is planning to include Amazon ads into the user experience of Ubuntu.
For years, the company relied on selling support for the free operating system, but it seems that now it is hoping to gain some additional revenue by following a strategy mainly used in apps for portable devices such as smart phones and tablets.
I can understand the reasoning, and it works quite well for apps and games provided for free thanks to advertising revenue, but to use a similar method for Linux is something I don't see as the solution, and I don't think many Linux developers are pleased with that decision.
If Canonical is going through with this, I'm sure that a few people will band together and release a new, clean, Ubuntu-like distribution that will take over.
Boeing + In-flight calling:
With global cellphone coverage expanding all the time, one of the last cell-free havens in the world is when you are on a plane. While The Mythbusters proved that cellphones don't cause havoc with onboard systems, for many years due to safety reasons, cellphone usage was banned from flight.
When you are travelling with other people, a bus, a train etc, one of the most annoying things for me is listening to other people's half-conversations. Aside from the louder than needed conversations, it is just a nuisance listening to a strangers experiences last night. Maybe its yealosy because my own life isn't so eventful, but regardless, I don't like it.
It's like the "I'm in the bathroom" twitter posts, more information than needed, but when someone is on the phone, there is no "unfollow" or "block" button to hit.
Now plane companies like Boeing are building new features into their aircraft that will enable people to use their cellphones in-flight.
I'm not looking forward to my next flight, hearing "Can you hear me now" at 20.000 ft all around me.
For the majority of this week, I've still been using the Kindle Fire HD at nights.
Of course in previous newsletters I have mentioned some of the ups and downs I experienced with it, but this week, I found myself more of less forced to use the Kindle Fire HD because it has one feature that is better than any other tablet I have, its WiFi.
Amazon mentioned it did something with the WiFi, better antenna's, switching seamlessly between them to get the best reception, but it just sounded like the normal sales propaganda. But, nothing is further from the truth, its real!
Last week, after I answered a forum post regarding DVD playback on a tablet without a computer, I ordered a new toy, a Samsung "Optical Smarthub", or, in English, a portable DVD drive with WiFi build-in.
The SmartHub, cool as it is (as well as quirky) has WiFi, but the signal strength isn't the greatest. Having the drive in my little office, and watching a DVD movie on a tablet 20ft away from it was unstable on anything I have except the Kindle Fire HD. Where devices like the Xoom, the Nexus 7 and even the iPad3 had a hard time even trying to connect, the Fire HD has no issues with it whatsoever.
Because the Smarthub is pretty cool, especially at $40 I posted a review of it on my website here:
This week The Avengers was released on DVD and Bluray. Being one of the biggest movies of the year, of course I picked it up and ran it through its paces with DVD Catalyst 4 to make sure it would work fine:
The Avengers DVD: http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/09/the-avengers-2012-dvd/
The Avengers Bluray: http://www.tools4movies.com/2012/09/...s-2012-bluray/
Q: I'd like to transfer movies over on my iPad, but I do not have a computer. Is there something I can use to do this?
A: This question prompted me to look more into the Samsung Optical Smarthub I wrote about on my website this week.
The smarthub doesn't actually let you transfer your movie over, however, it does enable you to watch DVDs directly on your iPad or other Apple/Android device.
As I mentioned in the review article, for a quick movie-watching session, it works well. When you actually get it to work, it does what it is supposed to do, but that is basically where it ends.
Pausing it for a fridge-run and then continuing when you get back is a hit and miss. Sometimes it continues, but other times, it freezes and you have to start from the beginning finding your position.
If you switch DVDs, it's best to reboot the drive, because the build-in buffer can cause some long waiting when you try and access the new DVD.
At the $40, I do think it is worth the price for what it does, but if you want to put your DVDs on a tablet of some sort, even picking up a used computer for $100 or so will be a lot more useful. Aside from being able to convert your movies with something like DVD Catalyst, so that you can transfer them over, you can also keep your video file collection on the computer drive for whenever you need them, and by copying the actual files over to your device, you don't need Wifi in order to watch the movie, which makes it a more portable experience.
Q: I have a NOOK tablet, and iPad1 and a Galaxy Tab 2. If I want to convert my DVDs, do I have to convert the movie multiple times?
A: If you convert your DVD using one of the profiles for the devices you mentioned, the file will work on all 3. There are 2 things to keep in mind though.
The iPad 1 will not play anything that has a resolution higher than 1280x720. DVDs always have a resolution lower than that, so if you convert DVDs, you will not run into complications with this.
The NOOKtablet has a file-size limit of 2GB, and unless you took it to a B&N Store to have it re-partitioned, its internal memory is only 1GB for personal use (even if you have the 16GB version). If you use a memorycard with it, just keep in mind that the size for 1 movie can not exceed 2GB, otherwise the NOOK tablet will not play it. In most cases you will not run into this, but if you convert a 3 hour movie, such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar Special Edition etc, you might run into this limitation.
For your devices, I would suggest to select the Barnes & Noble > NOOK tablet HQXT profile, which will produce great looking videos for all your devices.
Q: I have transferred several videos to my Nexus 7 via DVD Catalyst 4 painlessly, however the films remain in portrait mode and only take up 20% of the available screen. Do you have any suggestions ?
A: By default, the Google Nexus 7 is locked in "portrait" mode. I have no idea why, but it is.
To unlock the screen rotation on the Nexus 7, drag the top menu-bar (where the clock and wifi signal are displayed) down, and tap on the little lock icon with the arrows around it. The lock should change to a rectangle. After this, the screen rotation will be unlocked, and turning your Nexus 7 will turn the video as well.
Q: Why would I want to watch video on my phone?
A: If you are reading the newsletter, you likely already know the answer to this, but I do get emails every now and then from people who ask me this question.
For many people, watching a movie or TV show on TV is a more enjoyable experience, but there are plenty of times where a few videos on a phone can make a big difference, regardless of how big the screen is.
* For my own use, I watch my movies on tablets. My wife and I have little in common when it comes to taste in movies. She likes the "strong woman" Lifetime movies, and for me, it's more about Ninja's, car chases, explosions, guns etc.
While we do watch some movies and shows together, in the evenings, I usually watch one of my own style of movies on a tablet while she watches her stuff on the TV. More often than not, the first time I see a movie it actually is on a tablet, so quality is key for me for those.
* Because they don't drive anymore, and my wife isn't always able to do so because of her health, I take my inlaws to doc appointments on a regular basis. Usually I bring my Galaxy Nexus phone or one of my tablets with me filled with a few movies and TV shows to pass the time waiting. It sure beats teaching myself another language using the multi-language flyers in the waiting room.
* Of course having your movies portable works miracles for a trip as well. On planes, when the inflight movies are not your style, or to entertain the kids in the backseat. Of course there are portable DVD players, but a loaded tablet avoids scratches on the discs, and also eliminates the need for switching movies after they are bored with what they are watching.
On my phone, I have a collection of favorites. A few of my favorite movies, and a couple of episodes of Friends and Southpark. Since I've seen all of the content before, the smaller-screen doesn't bother me, and at home, where I use my tablets, the screen-size when watching a movie on it is actually larger than that of the TV, because of the smaller distance from my eyes, and combined with a good set of headphones (I use a Bose QC15 noise canceling headset at home) it makes the experience a lot more immersive for me.
Rovio, the company behind the massively popular Angry Birds series released Bad Piggies yesterday. Sort of a spin-off from Angry Birds, but rather than catapulting birds, you have to build contraptions to get one of the green pigs from point a to point b.
While there are quite a few people who were expecting it to be similar to Angry Birds, the game is pretty cool, and free to play (with in-game ads) for Android (Google Play) devices and $0.99 for Apple devices. I played a few levels on my Galaxy Nexus, and it's not as easy as it looks.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...vio.BadPiggies
Online Video, or, the Death of DVD and Bluray:
With Barnes & Noble and Redbox now following behind Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Samsung and many others by also providing access to movies and TV shows over the web, it seems the death of physical content such as DVDs and Blurays is coming closer.
If you want to watch a particular movie right now, you can., without having to take a trip to the store. You just sign into one of these services, and tap the Buy or Rent button, and by the time you would normally take to actually pick one up, you are almost done watching the full movie already. Convenience rules.
Unfortunately, all these services are competing with each other. These content-provider companies strike deals with media-creation companies to have exclusives, movies that will only be available on one service and not on another, or a timeframe of a couple of weeks between them. Deals also expire/get canceled, so while a show might be available on one service now, who knows if it will be there next year.
* Forced brand-loyalty.
In order to maximize profit, these services don't inter-connect with each other. If you purchase a movie for your iPad3 through iTunes, you are not able to watch the movie you bought on an Android device. The same with movies purchased through Google Play, those will not work on an Apple device, so if you are an avid movie purchaser such as myself, after a couple of months, you have build up a nice collection of movies, and you are basically stuck with the device brand you are using in order to not lose your movies altogether.
* Out of control.
When it comes to access to content, the company who own the service has complete control over the content, meaning that if they lose a contract with a certain media creation company, or if the company goes out of business or decides the service is not profitable enough, the content you purchased can disappear along with it.
* Personal usage tracking.
Because the movies are tied to an account you setup with the service (or as is the case with Ultra Violet, an account with each movie studio you have movies from as well as Ultra Violet itself), the owners of the service have full access to the way you experience your movies as well as what kind of movies you watch, your age, sex and much more. They can see if you use a phone, a computer or a network enabled Bluray player for watching movies, as well as additional information about the device you are using and the physical location, what times you watch your movies, how much you spent on movies a week/month/year, during what months you purchase the most etc.
For advertising purposes, this information is invaluable, and you are the one paying them to do it.
* Buy or rent for a lifetime?.
My wife and I often pick up DVDs in yard sales and pawn shops. For us it provides a cheap way of expanding our collection, but for others, it is a great way to get a few extra bucks by selling movies they no longer watch/want or when they are in need for cash due to some emergency.
With digital content, you purchase a "license to use", meaning you don't actually own the file, you own the license. As a result, your digital purchases cannot be sold or even given to someone else.
If you just rent movies online, the above isn't a really big deal, but if you like to keep movies for keeps, the fragmentation of all these video services is just too messy to make it feasible.
I see it as a big risk to purchase a movie online, especially for a price that nearly equals that of a disc bought in the store. The 3 major digital stores, Amazon, Google and Apple, sell DVD-versions of movie/tv content (SD) for an average of $14.95, and HD content for $19.95.
If you pick up the disc version of a movie like The Avengers at Walmart or order it online at Amazon, you are looking at $16.95 for the DVD and $19.95 for the Bluray +DVD combo version. With that, you can be assured you can still watch the movie 5-10 years from now, or when needed, resell it.
Why pay the same price for the same movie with more restrictions and limitations, let alone the difference in visual quality?
In last week's newsletter I asked for costume suggestions for Halloween. Last week I found one that would fit in well with our yard stuff, but at $300, it was just too much.
Throughout the week, I got quite a few responses on a few forums as well as by email, and I went with this one:
With some coupon code I found on the web, it came to a total of $52, including the scythe, nowhere near the $300 I didn't want to spend.
It came in this morning, and of course I had to make sure it would fit. Over the years, I have gained a bit of weight, and it has been depressing to find out that pants you got a year ago no longer fit, but it was great that I managed to fit (barely) in a "standard size".
Somewhere this upcoming week, I'll be playing in the yard with the Halloween decorations. It is still a bit early, but to get things to look right, doing a test setup will make things easier. It will also bring out missing things, so we'll still have time to take care of that.
If the weather permits, I'll also be putting Christmas lights in our 30+ft evergreen in the yard. Last week, I tried it with some rope-lights, but after I got up 6 feet and was already half-way through the rope lights, I had to come up with a different scenario, so we are trying to do it with net-lights this time. Because of the size of the tree (it's actually 3 trees grown into a big massive one) it will only get lights on one side, the front.
Thanks for reading, and see you next week.
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