Thank you for reading the 85th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
85 of them already, wow. I never thought I would be able to keep it up this long, but somehow, the newsletter has turned into one of the few regular things of the week (aside from the Arrow TV show on Wednesday and movie releases on Tuesday).
As a self-employed software developer, I work 7 days a week, so it's hard to keep track of what day of the week it actually is. The newsletter is something that keeps me on at least somewhat of a normal life schedule. Thursdays I keep free, since that's when I write the majority of the newsletter, and Friday mornings are also reserved in order to finish it up and to send it out.
But, enough about that. Let me start with this week's tech news:
Since before I was born, my parents have collected a yearly book series that contained the noteworthy news from that year. A few years ago, they moved to an apartment (with their kids being moved out, the house was just too big to keep up), and ended up getting rid of the collection. I remember the times I spent reading through all that, but since I moved, it's been mainly the internet that fueled my hunger for knowledge.
Since 2001, Google has been organizing it's use of their search engine with their ZeitGeist project. A collection of the most-used searches performed by people all over the world, popularity of them in different areas, and it just posted up the information from 2012:
Zeitgeist 2012 ? Google
The links to the previous years are a bit tricky to find, so I dug them up:
Google Press Center: 2001 Year-End Zeitgeist
Google Press Center: 2002 Year-End Zeitgeist
Google Press Center: 2003 Year-End Zeitgeist
Google Press Center: Zeitgeist
Google Press Center: Zeitgeist
Google Press Center: Zeitgeist
Google Zeitgeist 2007
Google Zeitgeist 2008
Google: Zeitgeist 2009
Google Zeitgeist 2010
Google Zeitgeist 2011
Google Maps for iOS released.
Since the release of iOS6 and the iPhone 5, Apple users have been having issues with their maps app. Telling an iPhone fan to "Get Lost" actually had some deeper meaning, but no more.
Google finally has it's Maps app in the Apple store.
I was hoping to spend more time on an update for DVD Catalyst 4, with MovieGallery 2 being released, however, there were a few things on my list that I wanted to implement still, so again, a lot of time was spent on MovieGallery.
This week, I released an update, 2.1, with which my main focus was to enable the new cover and background images with MP4 Streaming Server, my free streaming app.
Of course, changed had to be made to both applications in order to enable the functionality, so MP4 Streaming Server also received an update to 1.4.
On top of that, while working on the update and testing it on a couple of my tablets, I ran into my Blackberry Playbook, and figured it would be cool to try and get MovieGallery to work on that as well.
So I did.
It is a little rough still, with a few freezes here and there because it runs through the Android runtime on the Playbook, but I did manage to run it through its paces and watch a few videos on it.
The Playbook is still one of my favorite devices. I absolutely love the way it does multi-tasking, and its ability to leave programs running in the background (not in a paused mode) is something I miss on all my other devices, but the lack of apps is what is holding it back.
Now with MovieGallery actually working on it, it will soon be doing a lot more than collecting dust in my gadget museum.
A few big-name DVD releases this week, which I ran through its paces with DVD Catalyst 4.
Just like last week's Batman 3 and Men in Black 3, they all converted without any complications or tricks.
Ted : DVD to Nexus 10 - TED Unrated | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Bourne Legacy : DVD to NOOK HD PLUS - Bourne Legacy | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Ice Age 4 : DVD to Kindle Fire HD 8.9 Ice Age 4 Continental Drift | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
New app in the works:
Earlier this week, someone asked me about a document finder app. I never given it much thought, but when I read the question, it came to mind that it is always a bit cumbersome to find files. Of course you can use a file-explorer app, but if you have to search through multiple folders for that one song or document, it can get a bit old.
With MovieGallery, of course I already have a file-search build-in. It looks for all your video files, and then display all of them in a friendly way, so I have been working on a file-search app that does the same with other files.
Most of the functionality is in place, and now it's just tweaks and graphics, but hopefully within a week or so, it will be available as a free app. I have a few additional ideas for it that might result in a pay-version as well, but for now, it will just be a simple search application.
Of course suggestions and feature requests are always welcome.
If you are looking into getting someone a tablet for Christmas, things can get tricky. With quite a selection out there, it is hard to filter out what would be the best choice. Of course there is price to consider, but even in the same price-range, there are quite a few things to consider.
These are my thoughts on what I believe are the ones that are most likely picked as Christmas gifts.
Let me start with the actual tablets out there (note: I'm not including the dedicated eReader models):
Amazon has 3 Kindle Fire models, the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, covering a price range from $159 all the way up to $599.
Barnes & Noble has 2 NOOK models, the NOOK HD and the NOOK HD+, ranging from $199 through to $299. (unfortunately, they stopped selling the older NOOK color and NOOK tablet models, but you can still get the NOOK tablet pre-owned from $159)
Google offers 2 tablets of its own, the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, starting at $199 and ending at $499.
Lastly there is Apple with its iPad line up, with a lot of different models, starting at $329, and going all the way up to $829
Aside from the above, there are a large variety of Android tablets such as the Toshiba Excite, Samsung Galaxy models, many lower-end tablet, and of course the Windows RT-based Surface and VivoTab tablets, but there are too many to list, and many of these are either limited to certain retail stores, or are only available online.
Each of these devices have their own advantages and disadvantages, and determining what would be the best one for the person you want to gift it to depends on what they want to do with it. Unfortunately, there is no tablet that would be perfect for everyone.
* Google Nexus 7 ($199-$299).
Google has the advantage with specifications on this one. For the price, the Nexus 7 is the most powerful tablet in its class, and combined with the large amount of apps and games in it's Google Play appstore, and the ability to install Amazon's Android appstore on it as well, there is no shortage of entertainment, free and paid, for this one.
Good quality, best performance in its class, affordable, plenty of apps, plain Google user experience.
No expansion, can be slightly confusing for new tablet users (considering I receive multiple emails a week in regards of the screen rotation lock being enabled by default).
* Google Nexus 10 ($399-$499):
Google's iPad Killer. Similar as the Nexus 7, its specifications are top notch, and of course it provides access to everything the Nexus 7 has to offer, but in a larger package, but the Nexus 10 just screams "Me Too!" with every aspect of its specifications being slightly higher than that of Apple's iPad.
Everything the Nexus 7 has to offer, and more than an iPad 4, except the price.
More than an iPad 4, except the price.
* NOOK HD ($199-$229):
Since the original NOOK color, B&N has always delivered great hardware for a very affordable price, but unfortunately, it never really expanded upon this. The NOOK color, when released, had specs that matched and surpassed that of what was out there, but B&N treated the NOOK color more as a glorified eReader, rather than a full-fledged tablet.
Thankfully, the modding community did see the potential with the NOOK color, and quickly enabled its full capabilities by means of running Android from memorycards.
Now, 2 years later, B&N is finally stepping up to the plate.
The NOOK's are one of the very few that actually have memory expansion capabilities. Highest resolution screen in its price range, making it great for anything visual. Also the price is great., and it is easy to use.
Physical store locations you can visit for support and questions.
Lack of apps. Thanks to B&N's policies, it is a bit tricky for developers to get apps in the B&N Appstore. Also the lack of an advertising model reduces interest from developers to release free apps.
* NOOK HD+($269-$299):
A larger version of the NOOK HD. Great specifications for the price, however, the larger size is a bit confusing. Similar as with the original NOOK color, B&N doesn't appear to be ready to take on the iPad in terms of size. The larger, full-hd screen works great with movies and of course for childrens books it works really well, but the size limits it to more in-home-use, rather than to take it with you and use it at the doctor's office.
Great specs for the price, memory expansion. Easy to use. In-store support.
Lack of apps, too large to be used as a personal reader device on the go.
* Kindle Fire ($159):
A small upgrade to last-years model, but still fully usable. The Kindle Fire, all models, are mainly designed to be a window for Amazon content. Every aspect of the Kindle Fire links to Amazon in some way, with apps, videos, books, and of course it's online store for just about everything you can imagine.
Because of this, Amazon offers their Kindle Fire tablets at a very reasonable price, and you get a lot of bang for your buck, however, if you want to go beyond the scope of Amazon, you will quickly run into limitations. A lack of memory expansion for starters, but it's custom user-interface is also designed to try and get you to use the rest of Amazon's services.
But, if you use Amazon, and have their Prime subscription service for free 2 day shipping, the Kindle Fire models can't be beat. Free movies and TV shows included, including many high-profile shows, and plenty of apps in the appstore.
To keep the price down, Amazon does have something on them called "Special Offers", a form of advertising, and while this might deter some people, it is not as annoying as many people make it out to be.
Affordable, works great with Amazon content. Easy to use (and easy to buy stuff with it)
Works not so well with non-Amazon content, lack of storage expansion.
* Kindle Fire HD($199-$249):
A real upgrade to the original Kindle Fire. Better in every way. It has a higher resolution screen, faster processor, better wireless, making the entire user experience a lot smoother.
Similar as the Kindle Fire, but a lot better.
Same as with the Kindle Fire.
* Kindle Fire HD 8.9($299-$599):
The bigger brother of the Kindle Fire HD. Higher resolution screen, slightly faster, but unfortunately, the interface feels a little sluggish every now and then. Of course, if you don't have experience with other tablets, this is a point that can be ignored.
Same as the Kindle Fire HD. Includes an LTE option if you want to use it to purchase stuff on the go.
Doesn't feel as fast as the Kindle Fire HD, lack of storage expansion.
* Apple iPad:
The one all others are trying to compete with. Apple's smash hit device continues to be the most popular tablet on the market.
More apps than anything else, combined (not all of them useful though),easy to use, and of course with full integration with Apple's iTunes music, video, book and app store, more content available as well.
Unfortunately, with all that comes the price of Apple's control. Similar as Amazon, Apple doesn't like it when you want to use competitor products with their services, so their devices are a bit restricted in that regard.
* Apple iPad2($399-$529):
Last year's iPad model, still available at a more reasonable price.
Most content available for it. Easy to use
Restricted, expensive, lack of storage expansion, square-screen, which, in my opinion, doesn't lend itself well for video playback, considering most movies (including the ones in iTunes) are wide-screen.
* Apple New iPad($499-$829):
This years model (well, the second iPad of this year):
Same as the iPad, higher (retina) resolution screen, faster.
Same as the iPad2.
* Apple iPad Mini ($329-$659):
A more portable version of the iPad. Similar specs as the iPad2, same access to content, but, in a smaller, more portable package.
It's an iPad, but smaller, and it's an iPod Touch, but larger. The rest is similar as the other iPads.
It's an iPad, but smaller, and it's an iPod Touch, but larger, and of course the same limitations of the other iPads.
* Windows RT tablets such as the Asus VivoTab RT, Microsoft Surface RT.
Nice design, but unfortunately confusing. These tablets are marketed as Windows 8 tablets, and while they look and work like it, unfortunately, they are running a custom version of Windows, Windows RT, which limits its functionality severely. A lack of apps, and with Windows 8's focus on a more "mobile" experience, it's screen space is wasted by most apps running in full-screen, rather than in a "Window" to enable multi-tasking.
Large screen, good keyboard integration, similar user experience between computer and tablet.
Expensive, lack of apps, confusing due to look-alike but not work-alike user experience.
* Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Note, Toshiba Excite, Asus Transformer.
These are more of "generic" tablets. Most of them around the $400-$500 mark, fairly standard Android OS similar to the Nexus tablets, some with a memoryslot, and others without. The specifications don't differ much between one and another, aside from maybe a newer processor model or a higher resolution screen. I hate to put them all in one group, but there are just too many of them that only differ slightly in features.
I hope the above will make it a bit easier to find the perfect tablet for your needs. One thing I do need to point out is that while the majority of these tablets provide access to a Movie and TV store, many of them are device specific.
Most Android devices include Google Play, but devices like the NOOK and Kindle Fire have their own video service. Apple has it's iTunes, and Samsung has something called MediaHub.
These services don't mix.
If you purchase a movie from iTunes, the videos will not play on anything non-Apple. If you purchase movies from Google Play, they will not work on the NOOK or Kindle Fire.
So if the person already uses one of these devices or services, in order to make sure that their existing content works with the new tablet, it's best to stick to the same type.
However, if they have a large DVD collection, and use something like DVD Catalyst to convert their movies, it doesn't matter what device they use, their videos will work with it just fine.
Thank you for reading this week's newsletter, and have a great weekend,
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.
Convert DVDs with a single click of the button, convert 1 or 100 video files in batch-mode by using Drag & Drop, remove black bars, include subtitles or closed captions.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including the latest Apple devices (iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPhone 5) Barnes & Noble NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and much much more.
Regular price $19.95, for a limited time only $9.95
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