Thank you for reading the 90th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
This week I've still been dealing with the aftermath of last week, but things have been getting better, so I managed to get caught up a bit.
Earlier this week, I released my free file-search app for Android, FileDigger, and I also managed to get the 4.2.6 update of DVD Catalyst 4 out the door as well.
More about that a bit later. First, this week's
Mega, the successor of the powerful Mega Upload service which got taken down last year.
Yet another "cloud" service that you can use for your files. In previous newsletters I already highlighted my thoughts on cloud-services in general, and what happened with Mega Upload last year just strengthens that opinion. While mostly used for piracy, sharing files etc, quite a few people were using it for storing their important files as well. Of course when the entire infrastructure (servers) were seized, those files were no longer accessible, and regardless of what happens with those servers now, likely the data will be lost forever.
Convenience is key with cloud-storage, but regardless of how big the company is, your data is controlled by someone else. Always make your own backups, locally, and be careful with what you actually upload to your cloud.
A few years ago, in the time of Napster and Kazaa, people ended up sharing classified documents with just about everyone on the planet, all because of a simple music share app decided to share folders on your computer for the world to see. Of course it can all be setup and prevented, but many people just click through an installer without looking what they are doing, just anxious to get to using the app as soon as possible.
With cloud services, even ones like Drop Box, can you really be sure that just because a folder is not set to shared/public that no-one else can access it?
Sony Playstation 4 & Microsoft XBOX 720.
With both the new XBOX and the new Playstation around the corner, rumors regarding the two new consoles are popping up all over the web. A lot of them is just speculation, but these one caught my attention. Supposedly both Microsoft and Sony are using an AMD x64 processor and AMD Radeon graphics in their new consoles.
It would be a good move from Sony in some aspects. The Cell processor, first used in the PS2, and then in the PS3, while really powerful, was quite painful to develop for. Microsoft's XBOX always held up to more conventional hardware, which made it a lot easier for developers to create games for, and as an added bonus, these games also ported over fairly easy to a PC.
By using a standard setup for the PS3, Sony will be able to attract more developers, and crank out more games.
But, in regards of Sony, I don't believe the rumor though.
By going the AMD route, games would be easier to develop, but they would also port over quite easily to the XBOX and PC. Of course Sony's own games would remain exclusive, but for companies like EA, Bethesda, being able to release the same game on all systems with minimal porting effort would be very beneficial.
With the majority of games the same on all systems, no visual difference, no difference in gameplay, it will come down to if you like Halo or God of War, Forza or Gran Turismo. The launch line-up, as well as the track-record of these console-exclusive games will be making the difference.
And let's not forget Sony's core focus with the Playstation brand. Security above everything else. With a console running a standardized processor, the console will be a lot easier to hack/mod.
For Microsoft, it would be logical. With its XBOX-focus on the desktop, using PC-like hardware for their console would make cross-platform functionality a lot easier to implement.
Not in January as promised before, but finally the Surface Pro has a release date. Feb 9th.
I like the Surface RT, the design, the feel, but unfortunately it doesn't work so well in terms of functionality. The mobile version of Windows 8, Windows RT, doesn't work for me. It looks and acts like Windows, but it doesn't let you use any conventional Windows apps.
The Surface Pro does.
It features the standard Windows 8 OS, a reasonable powerful processor and video card, so it is actually a lot more usable than the Surface RT. You can run just about everything that you are already using on your computer, games, apps etc. But, for the best experience you would need to use a mouse and keyboard though.
With Windows 8 (and Windows RT), Microsoft is bringing a more mobile experience to the desktop. Designed for touch screens, it works well for the basic stuff, but when it comes to the more commonb tasks like typing documents or editing pictures, a touch screen experience doesn't work well, and when it comes to games, only ports of mobile games (Angry Birds, Cut the Rope etc) work well, but bigger games like Skyrim/Fallout/Quake all work better with some off-screen control system, a game controller or a keyboard/mouse combo.
Earlier this week, I released a free file-search utility for Android called FileDigger.
A few months ago, someone asked me if I could build something that would use the fast search part of MovieGallery to look for other files. I pondered on it for a while, and actually started looking at how I use my tablets when it comes to doing things on it, and figured it would be handy to have something that would let you look for stuff with a single tap, so I started working on FileDigger.
When you start the app, it shows a collection of different types of files. To search, just tap on a button, and it will search for that on your device. Of course there is a custom search button as well, which will let you look for anything in the file-name.
When it finds files, a simple tap on one of the results will have it open in the application you have installed that supports the file-type.
Simple, handy, and can be downloaded for free from
Google Play : https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...ies.filedigger
Amazon Apps : http://www.amazon.com/Tools4Movies-F.../dp/B00B3KPR7M
NOOK Apps : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/file...=2940043948403
Unlike most free apps, I did not put in any ads or other crud to either make money from it or to get a ratings boost, but of course I do appreciate it if you do use it if you would leave some sort of review/rating on the app stores for it.
DVD Catalyst 4.
Also this week, I updated DVD Catalyst 4 to v188.8.131.52.
Aside from new profiles, and some bug fixes, I also added some options regarding file and folder names in Global Settings > General.
Q: I'm interested in the ideal device settings (preset) for displaying 720p and 1080p content, depending on whether the source was DVD or Blu-Ray. I'll be counting on the Plex server doing it's job and adjusting the encoding on the fly based on requesting device and don't want to have to compromise much in the quality of the source file sitting on my server. What settings or preset would you recommend?
A: In the profile you use, just select a screensize that is the highest that you want. When the resolution in the profile is higher than that of the source video, DVD Catalyst will keep the original resolution, so converting a DVD with a 1920x1080 resolution selected will not result in a pixelated video file.
As for a format, I would recommend using a HQXT profile, such as one of the Asus > Transformer ones (just pick a 1080 one) The files you end up with are H264 MP4 formatted, and the HQXT profiles automatically enable something called CRF, which auto-scales the bitrate depending on the source resolution. Using such a profile, combined with the way DVD Catalyst works with resolutions, will result in the behaviour you want, regardless of what source you are converting.
Q: Any idea what program will allow me to just extract the audio off concert DVDs or DVD iso file?
A: In DVD Catalyst, select "Audio only" in the first dropdown on the left side, and it will offer you an option to convert to MP3.
Q: I have a Nexus 10, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and my trusty (old) Xoom (and the orig. Fire still hanging around). What is the best preset to use for DVD conversion that would be adequate quality-wise for all four devices? Obviously, the crown jewel of resolution is the Nexus 10 and I prefer looking at its gorgeous display. Shall I just convert with the N10 settings to cover all bases or is it better to convert for the respective devices?
A: The main thing to keep in mind is that DVDs have a resolution (around the 800x480) that is lower than everything you have, even the original Kindle Fire has more. So, regardless of what profile you use, DVD Catalyst will keep the original DVD resolution. It is possible to make the resolution higher of a DVD, but it just makes the pixels bigger, and makes videos look worse rather than better, so DVD Catalyst doesn't do that. It just keeps the original size.
But, there are some quality tricks.
First, pick a HQXT profile. It doesn't matter which device you select, as long as it is a HQXT version of the profile. This uses higher quality settings for the conversion. It also enabled something called CRF, an advanced little trick that automatically adjusts the video quality during conversion to whatever is needed to produce a fixed visual quality for any point in the video.
The default setting for CRF is good and reasonable in size, if you change it (enable Power User, then tap on "Modify") to 20, it will result in video of the same visual quality as the DVD, but files will be a bit larger.
Tips and Tricks:
MovieGallery 2 and Subtitles.
A little known feature of MovieGallery 2 is the support for external srt-based subtitles.
If you use MovieGallery 2 to watch videos, and you have a so-called SRT-subtitle file in the same location with the same name as your video file, you can enable/disable the display of the subtitle for your movie.
Unfortunately, subtitles from DVDs are in a different format, so they cannot be used (unless you enable them during conversion in DVD Catalyst to make them part of the actual video), however, there are plenty of websites that do offer subtitles in SRT format. Sites like opensubtitles.org, srtfiles.com and allsubs.org contain a large collection of user-created subtitles that you can use. Even some streaming solutions like XBMC have so-called scrubbers that can download subtitles for you as well.
If you manually download your subtitles, do be careful what you click on though. Some links take you to areas that do not contain subtitles at all. When you download a subtitle, it should be in a zip-file format, which has a file ending with srt in it.
File Digger File extensions.
Because File Digger is intended as being quick and simple, it doesn't have configuration options to tweak or play with, however, you can change/add/remove the file-extensions it looks for.
After you start FileDigger for the first time on your Android device, it creates a .FileDigger folder with a filetypes file in it.
Just remove the filetypes you don't want, and add ones you would like to have in there, and the next time you start FileDigger, it will offer them as search options.
With tablets getting smaller and phones getting bigger, it is hard to define a line between the 2.
For a couple of years, we were used to the 7" and 10" tablets, and phones of around the 4" mark, but with the introduction of the Galaxy Note, screens of phones started to move upwards to the 5" and there are already rumors on 6" floating around.
This year, we will be seeing new tablets with 8", 11" and even 12", but do we really need all that?
I can understand the reasoning of an inbetweener like the Galaxy Note. On one side, a 4" phone, on the other side a 7" tablet, so a 5.5" device that acts as both will be fine, but do we really need a Galaxy Tab 8" version when we have a 7" and a 10" already, or is it just because the Apple iPad Mini is 8", so the rest needs to do the same as well?
Especially Samsung seems to have more interest in releasing a device (or 2) within single inches of a difference. It is a great way to get something out there in just about every price range imaginable, but is it really needed?
I do like 7" better than 10" for my own use, it is more portable, easier to grab. When I am using a 7" tablet, I don't catch myself thinking "man, this is a bit small. I wish I had an 8" version instead", or, if I use a 10"-er like the Xoom, "this is too big, but a 7" is too small, I wish they made an 8.5" one and it would be perfect"
It just seems that they are either out of ideas, and just release something similar with a slightly different size, or they are trying to keep up with Apple, and just mimmick whatever they release. Whats next, Android companies dropping wide-screen, and going back to a 4:3 aspect ratio, just because the iPad has that?
And that is it for this week's newsletter.
Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend,
About DVD Catalyst 4
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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