Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 77.
Another long week for me. Time flies when you are having fun, and I'm really into MovieGallery development at the moment, resulting in many days of little sleep, but it will be worth it. Aside from that, after I sent out last week's newsletter, one of the electricians in town called us back, and after Halloween, he is going to come over with the bucket-truck to help us with the lights. Of course it's not going to be free, but we came up with a reasonable price ($80-$100), which is far less than actually renting one ($300 for a day in my area), and of course then I need someone to help run it as well, so it is worth it.
But let's get on with this week's newsletter.
This upcoming week is iPad Mini week. Apple officially announced the keynote for Oct 23rd, and with rumors turning into facts, pricing and model-range evidence showing up on retailer systems, it is pretty clear that the iPad Mini will be announced this coming Tuesday. Along with the iPad Mini, there is speculation about a smaller, 13" MacBook, a new Mac Mini and a new iMac range. Also a possibility is an iPad3 refresh to replace the 30pin connector for the Lightning connector to make it work with the new iPhone 5 accessories, but who knows.
Earlier this week, a photo from an iPad Mini product list taken from a German retailer appeared on the web,
Possible iPad Mini pricing info and available models
showing a large variety of different models and, more importantly, a pricing indication. The prices are in Euro's, but with Apple's pricing strategy of ignoring the actual exchange rate, it basically translates into $250 for an 8GB iPad Mini, with increments of $100 per memory-double.
With 4 models of different amounts of memory, plus an additional 4 that have cellular on board, and each model available in black or white, it comes down to 16 to choose from.
With the pricing, the iPad Mini sits somewhat between the iPod Touch and the iPad3, but Apple is still selling the iPad2 as well, which, for $50 more for a similar configuration.
The amount of different models is a bit of a mystery to me. It's nice to have this amount of choice, but Apple never used to be much about choice. Of course with its iPad Nano, it started to offer color options a few years ago, which now moved into the iPod Touch as well, but for the iPad having 16 models with just 2 colors, it seems a bit of a market-flooding tactic than anything else.
In order to be able to compete with pricing of the Nexus 7 ($200 16GB), NOOK HD($229, 16GB) and the Kindle Fire HD($200, 16GB), there is an 8GB model ($250), and then it goes up quickly with $100 increments to offer something more. With a lack of storage expansion (this is where the NOOK HD stands out from the rest, thanks to its MicroSD slot), the 8GB is likely just offered either as a kid-tablet, Christmas gift, but not for someone who actually buys their own iPad. It's there to offer as a choice, but with Apple's focus on apps and media through iTunes, it just isn't going to cut it as an everyday iPad. The iPod Touches (3 generations) I have are all 8GB's, and even with the first one (before apps were available) I ran into memory issues, and that was over 5 years ago.
I was actually looking forward to the iPad Mini. The smaller form factor makes it great to carry around for on-the-go entertainment or reading, but it just seems to me that it is more of a "we have to do something with this market" rather than actually thinking it over. Let's take the iPad, and shrink it down a bit and call it done. With many things released over the last couple of years, Apple was at the forefront of coming up with something original, innovative (or just made existing things better), but the iPad Mini, is just seems like a lazy approach.
With the iPhone 5 and the iPod Touch 5, they broke the aspect ratio used in all their predecessors by adding room for "another row of icons", but for the iPad Mini, they are allegedly using the same resolution and aspect ratio as the original and second gen iPad. Of course this keeps compatibility with all the iPad apps out there, but if you are forcing developers to redo their apps to look nice on the iPhone 5 already anyway, having them work on a new, wide-screen, resolution for the iPad Mini wouldn't cause much more of a nuisance.
With Apple's collection of movie and TV shows available on iTunes (in wide-screen format), its Airplay functionality to send video from the iPad to an Apple TV, connected to a, wide-screen, TV, why not make it a wide-screen display? Even going from 1024x768 down to 1024x600 would have been enough, cheaper, but at least less borders when you watch an iTunes downloaded TV show.
Regardless of the above, and if I would actually pick one up myself or not (I'm really not sure yet), of course DVD Catalyst 4 already contains profiles for the iPad Mini, so if you prefer to not re-purchase your DVD collection in a digital format, or if you prefer to have control over your own collection and not rely on companies like Apple to provide you access (or remove it) to the movies you bought, you can use that for your movies. Of course, if you are going to use your iPad Mini for movies, the 8GB version would be a bit limited.
Carmageddon for iPhone iPad iPod Touch.
Finally, this week, Carmageddon was released for (some) mobile devices. To celebrate its release, the developers posted the game up for free for one day, but I had my head up in MovieGallery code, so I missed it. It doesn't matter though, the $1.99 for the game is totally worth it.
The game itself is one of my top favorite games. Released back in 1997, I played it on a PC running Windows 95 (that long ago), and actually spent most of the time in MS DOS because of the 3DFX video card support. The game itself was controversial, because of the things you could do in the game. I'm sure many people who played racing games have done things like trying to hit the bystanders or go on the track the wrong way to see how long you could last. All things that you would never do in real-life, but of course, video games are there to provide you with the ability of experiencing unbelievable scenarios, and this is where Carmageddon comes in.
The game offers 3 ways to win. Do the laps, and out-race your opponents, hit your competitors and total their cars and lastly, get all the bystanders.
The game offers a large selection of upgradable cars (different engines, different armor and different offensive items) as well as a large collection of different, free-roaming levels filled with power-ups (and power downs). You can go anywhere in a level, and basically do whatever you can think of. These things might not sound too ground-breaking, but for a game from 15 years ago, this was something that wasn't done before, and even to this day (I still play the game every now and then) the game play still holds up amazingly well.
I was holding off to pick it up, in fear of it taking up too much of my time, but I couldn't resist. Last night I played it for an hour or so on the iPad3 and it rocks
The controls take a bit of getting used to, as I found myself missing the steering buttons in the heat of the moment, but with a game such as this, the incidental mishap isn't as big of a deal as it is in other racing games.
Carmageddon is somewhat of a cross between Grand Theft Auto and the Death Race movies, but without guns, so it might be a good idea to not have it sit next to The Smurfs if you install it.
Microsoft Surface Tablet Pre-order.
This week, the new Microsoft iPad, eh, Surface tablet went up for pre-order, with a scheduled delivery date of Oct 26. Running Windows 8 RT, it looks like a full-blown Windows 8 tablet, but I'm afraid it will result in quite a few questions from people running into complications. It runs the "Metro" apps, the little gadget blocks you might have seen on the images and screenshots of Windows 8 all over the web, but aside from that, I don't see it doing any DVD conversions anytime soon.
Also next week, Windows 8 will be available. Heralded as the Windows ME version of Windows 7, who knows how and what it will turn out to be. I admit, the visuals are nice, but it is a big difference from how people are currently using their computers. I will install the Pro version on one of my test-systems, but I don't see me changing my development laptop over from Windows 7 anytime soon though.
Nothing new with DVD Catalyst this week. Last week I released an update to add support for the NOOK HD and HD+ along with some other devices, and of course the iPad Mini is already listed as well, but all my available time was spent on MovieGallery.
DVD Catalyst News:
I'm not going to share too much details on this, because I don't want my ideas to be taken up by other products, however, there is one thing I do want to share. This week, I've been focusing on getting cover images automatically, and I have a few different methods working.
However, I need your help with this in order to get this to work properly.
In order to obtain cover images for your movies and TV shows, I need to know more about what kind of file-naming systems people use for their files. MovieGallery will perform a search for the file name in order to obtain its cover image, but of course certain wordings and numbers affect the search results. Some people leave the movie names as DVD Catalyst generates them (My Movie_1 for example), other people use names like Twilight 4 - Breaking Dawn Part 1, TV shows like Dexter s01e01 or The Untouchables Episode 1.
For these different naming systems to produce the correct results when looking for cover images, I need to implement a file-name filter that would just keep the actual video, rather than the extra stuff.
So, if you are using your own naming system for your video files, please be so kind to let me know what you use, either by email or in a forum post, so I can make sure that the next MovieGallery release will pull the correct images for your videos.
As many of my newsletter-readers know, I'm not too fond of TV.
I pay a small fortune each month for both Satellite TV and Cable TV, mainly because both are a bit unreliable in my area. On top of that, because we prefer to control our own TV viewing hours, rather than let the entertainment industry control that, we pay an additional fee to a company called TiVo, and with all that, it seems that we are watching/skipping more commercials than actual TV show content.
Earlier this week, thanks to a delay in a baseball game, one of my wife's favorite shows, The X-Factor, was cut short. Part of the reason we have 2 TV service providers is because this kind of stuff happens on a regular basis, so when it happens, we just switch to the other system, and continue there, and on the Dish DVR (Hopper) thanks to its "Prime Time" feature, it records way beyond the actual show. Not in this case. The show got cut and it just continued with the next programming.
So, even with the amount of fees I pay out for being able to watch TV, I (well, my wife mainly) still end up with disappointment. Forced commercials, which, considering that they make up the majority of a show like X Factor, could have been taken out because of the late start, and half a TV show.
With all the money these media companies are getting, I think it is time for them to follow HBO. HBO has the right idea and implementation.
Shows air on their TV channels, and the same night on their HBO Go service. Their collection of movies for the month are all available on the service as well, so you actually get to control what and when you watch it. If other TV channels start to follow suit with a similar approach, I'd happily pay a monthly fee for the experience. There are only a couple of channels worth watching anyway, so even if they would charge $20/mo for each channel, It would still be cheaper than to continue to run the setup I have now.
With Christmas around the corner, it is starting to rain technology.
The NOOK HD models, iPad Mini, Kindle Fire 8.9, Surface, all coming up next month, and of course quite a few new tablets and phones have already been released recently as well. In addition to that, some amazing games are getting very close to their release dates as well.
I already mentioned the just released Carmageddon Mobile game earlier, but next week, we'll be seeing Forza Horizon and Medal of Honor War Fighter, then a week later Need for Speed Most Wanted and after those 2, it will be Halo 4 on the 6th.
With consoles like the XBOX360 now reaching 7 years old, developers know what can be done on the system, so the quality of these games is far beyond of their predecessors from back then.
Microsoft Surface Tablet:
While I'm not too sure about its capabilities or how it will stack up compared to established Apple and Android tablets, I did pre-order the Surface with Windows RT.
When it comes to my work with DVD Catalyst 4, rather than just relying on specifications alone, whenever something majorly different comes along, I usually end up picking it up to get a feel for the device. Aside from being able to optimize settings to produce the best possible results in terms of quality for video files, actually owning a device makes my life a lot easier when it comes to answering questions from users as well as troubleshooting.
For example, since the Nexus 7 was released, a lot of people emailed me about video playback questions like "video plays in a small window", "video has huge borders on screen" and "video only takes up a small portion of the screen".
Experienced tablet/smartphone users of course figured out that it was the screen orientation that was locked, but with its super-affordable price-point and the massive advertising capability of Google, for a lot of people, the Nexus 7 is their first Android device ever. And of course for a device such as the Nexus 7 to have its screen orientation locked by default is a bit unusual as well.
For little quirks like that, for me to actually having such a device makes things a lot easier for the customer to get the information they need.
With the Microsoft Surface being Microsoft's first entry in the tablet market, together with its new Windows RT operating system, it is something completely different. I'm sure within a few days of release that some folks from sites like XDA would have pulled a Windows RT rom from the Surface and stuck it on a Nexus 7, similar as to what happened early last year when the NOOK color ended up being the first tablet running Android Honeycomb (a few weeks before the Xoom was released), but due to some differences it will not provide a true testing environment.
I am actually quite excited to see what Microsoft has done with it. While the operating system of Apple's iPad, iOS is originally based on its desktop OS X operating system, but since the release of the first iPhone, they have been working more from iOS and porting it over to OS X rather than the other way around, so the tablet-versions of both iOS and Android come from something that was originally developed for phones.
Microsoft's Windows RT comes from "the other side". While they have had their fair share of touch screen operating systems and portable operating systems, these were mostly based on their desktop OS.
Windows CE, the earliest predecessor of Windows RT, was based on Windows 95, found on devices such as the HP Jornada and the Philips Velo. Because of the desktop OS as a base, these devices required a desktop-like screen resolution. This later evolved into Windows Mobile, running PocketPC's like the iPaq and the Dell Axim, and can now be found as Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 920.
One of the biggest gripes I have about current tablets is that they are often marketed as a replacement for PC's/Laptops, but they always fall short. Of course "there is an app for that", which will enable desktop-like functionality, but when you are doing multiple things at once, it always requires you to switch between apps. Numerous times, I've tried to reply to a support email while I am watching a movie on a tablet, and even simple things like pulling a link to a guide from my website and pasting it into an email requires more effort than it should be. With Windows RT's roots, I am sort of expecting that the Surface tablet will excel in the multi-tasking department.
And that is it for this week's DVD Catalyst Newsletter. A big week coming up, with Apple's announcement, Forza Horizons and Medal of Honor on Tuesday, , Windows 8 and Surface being made available on Friday.
For me, it will be more MovieGallery coding and, if the weather is good, setting up Halloween decorations.
Thank you for reading, and have a great week,
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 converts your movie and TV show collection (DVD, AVI, MKV, ISO etc) to great quality video files that are perfectly optimized to play on portable devices.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including Apple's full iPad/iPod and iPhone product line (including iPhone 5 and iPad Mini), Amazon Kindle Fire (all models, including the HD and HD 8.9),the Barnes & Noble NOOK (NOOK color, tablet, HD, HD+), Asus Transformer (original, Prime, Infinity etc), all Samsung's Galaxy models, including the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Xperia, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom and much more.
DVD Catalyst Features:
Regular price $19.95, for a limited time only $9.95
Purchase Now and save over 50%