DVD Catalyst Newsletter 125 – 10-11-13
Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 125.
Just another week. I have been working on something I'm hoping to release around Halloween. Halloween always has been somewhat of a special day for me. While I was doing this for a couple of years prior, the first release of DVD Catalyst was released on Halloween back in 2005. DVD Catalyst started as PocketDVD, but due to name-confusing at the time with other products (Pocket DVD Wizard, Pocket DVD Studio,
While I am working on DVD Catalyst 5, it is not anywhere near release yet, however what I am hoping to finish by the end of the month is something quite exciting as well.
October 22 : iPad 5?
This week, rumors started to fill the web regarding an Apple Keynote on October 22.
iPad 5 anticipation high ahead of October 22nd Apple event - SlashGear
Apple Will Hold Fall iPad Event on October 22 - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD
Apple's iPad event reportedly set for October 22 | Apple - CNET News
With last month's keynote being all about the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and iOS 7, it is likely that this event will cover the iPad, and possibly even the iPod Touch. Who knows what will be announced, but if you are in the market for a new iPad or iPod, I'd suggest to hold off a few weeks to see what happens.
T-Mobile Global Data:
Wow, T-Mo is quick. In newsletter 124, I mentioned that it would be cool to be able to use my phone overseas using the same plan, and already T-Mobile delivered.
T-Mobile’s 4G Network | Check Your Coverage | T-Mobile Blazing Fast 4G Coverage
This week, they announced a new addition to their plans that enables someone to use data services with their phone with no additional fees in many countries over the world. Not at the fastest speeds, but still enough for email, whatsapp texting and social apps. Very cool indeed
On top of that, global calling for $0.20 per minute is also quite interesting. Right now I use Google Voice, and while considerably cheaper to use when calling my parents' phone, it is definitely handy to be able to dial them from my phone when needed as well.
As mentioned above (and in last week's newsletter) I am working on something for Halloween, so aside from support emails, my head has been buried in code for the majority of the week. However, my hunt for the perfect smartphone continues as well, and this week I did a comparison between the contenders and eliminated a few from the bunch:
For part one, which contains more details on the criteria used to determine the phones I am considering and what my intended use is, have a look here:
I mentioned it in the article already, but this is not to be considered as a which phone is better. Comparing Apple, Android and Windows Phone with each other is like comparing apples and oranges. With the comparison, I am trying to look objectively to how these devices work with what I want to use them for. If anything, I might show a bit of favoritism towards the non-Android devices because I already have access to so many Android devices.
But, as it stands, I'm leaning mostly towards the HTC One. A lack of memory expansion is a bit of a disappointment, but everything else about the phone makes up for it. However, there is a big HTC event around the corner as well, and while the rumored HTC One MAXX (HTC's Note 3 basically) is way too large for me, who knows what else is on the verge of being released.
The Galaxy Note 3 is back in as well though. Yesterday my wife had a doc appointment, so while we were in town, I ended up playing with some of the phones in a store. I wasn't able to play with the Sony Z1, however, the HTC one was on display, and the Samsungs were there as well. Physically, compared to the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Note 3 isn't that much larger, and with the HTC One, which I actually played with first, it felt a little too small for me.
At first I messed a bit with the fake phones, tried fitting them in my pocket (Note 3 fits fine), holding them to get an idea of the size and weight, but then started playing with the real ones to get the real feel.
A couple of minutes of flipping through menus and stuff on the HTC resulted in the device getting a bit warmer than what I am used to with the gNex, so that worries me a bit. With the Samsung phones, I didn't experience a fast heat build-up. Unfortunately, they (even the fakes) were all tied to a security system, so getting a real feel for the weight and shape was not possible, but a sales rep let me play a bit with his personal Note 2 to get a feel for it, and use it as a reference.
He wasn't using a case for his phone, and the plastic back, one of my concerns with Samsung, was scratch free. He said he had it for 6 months or so, so that changed my view on the build-quality. With the new faux leather backing on the Note 3, scratches are not an issue, and it also makes it feel a bit more "premium", so maybe the Note 3 is the phone for me.
Tips & Tricks:
Movies for laptop/netbook/ultrabook use:
The original design idea behind DVD Catalyst is of course the ability of creating/converting movies for use with portable devices. Back in the day (2003), there was no Android or iOS, and portable devices that were available were running either Windows Mobile/Windows CE or PalmOS. Both platforms were extremely picky with what kind of video files they would play, and the conversion tools and methods available at the time were cumbersome. Guides covering the steps to do it required the use of a multitude of applications, and the tools that combined all that into a single application were a hit and miss or lacked the control options to produce great looking video files.
Because I needed more than what was available at the time, I created my own software to do what I wanted it to do, which, then called PocketDVD, resulted in DVD Catalyst.
Of course throughout the years, devices changed, the iPod Video and PSP came out, then the iPhone, iPod Touch and Google started Android. Now with Samsung being a big player, Apple with the iPad, and even Amazon has its own tablet-line with the Kindle Fire series.
Comparing my old Windows Mobile 2003 running iPaq to the current generation of devices, clearly a lot has changed over these years
While there were some struggles down the road, DVD Catalyst grew along with the market, and whenever new devices were released, new profiles were included and where needed, new video formats supported.
Even-though there is a big focus on portable devices, DVD Catalyst is perfectly capable of creating videos for computer use. It is a broad field, covering netbooks, laptops, ultrabooks and desktop computers, and even full-blown Windows tablets like the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2. And there are also streaming solutions, where a computer is used as a media server that is being accessed by other devices either by means of HDMI to the TV or over a network to stream movies to the bedroom.
For portable devices, the video format used to create the video files is extremely important. Tablets and smartphones use dedicated chips for video decoding, which limits them to only being able to play video files created with fixed formats and settings, but with desktop-systems, this isn't a big factor. For almost all possible video formats, codecs can be installed, and players such as VLC (VideoLAN - VLC: Official site - Free multimedia solutions for all OS!) and MPC (Home ? MPC-HC), both of which include their own codecs, the majority of video files will play out of the box. Even PC-based streaming and media center solutions such as XBMC, Plex, Tversity and PS3 Media Server, support for all popular video formats is build-in.
However, depending on what you use to play your video files there are some caveats you might run into.
With a big, gaming grade system, it doesn't matter, however, if you are using a low-power netbook (Celeron/Atom-based processor), the processor might not be strong enough to decode video. Some formats (H264 AVC/WMV VC1) offer higher quality at smaller filesizes, in trade for a higher processor requirement, and especially at higher resolutions and/or quality settings, the processor might not be enough to handle it.
If you use a streaming solution (Plex, Tversity, PS3 Media Server) and rely on their build-in transcoding engine when streaming videos to certain devices (Apple/Android etc), the transcoding engine also relies heavily on the processor of the computer that the server runs on, so using a netbook to stream HD videos to your TV might result in major playback issues.
This actually ties into the processor speed, and while it comes into play a lot more with demanding video encoding formats like H264/VC1, the more pixels, the more work needs to be done. On some (older) devices, such as the HP Jornada HandheldPC's, the actual screen display chip has a limit in how many pixels it can display per second.
Also tied directly into the above. For laptops and desktop systems, most of which feature a dual/quad core processor that is optimized for performance rather than a low power consumption these days, it doesn't matter too much, however with battery-optimized devices that are intended to be used a full work-day on a single charge, it makes a big difference as to what format is used for the video files. On top of that, the format choice affects the resulting file-size of your video files and the quality as well.
H264/AVC MP4 is the best format for video these days. The file format itself is used by the majority of Bluray movies and Digital Copy movies. Even online media stores such as iTunes and Google Play use the format. Almost all the Android and Apple devices feature a dedicated decoding capability for videos in this format, and if you use DVD Catalyst for your conversions, you can use an Android optimized video on an Apple device and the other way around.
The format offers the best compression (smaller files) while keeping a great video quality, however, for devices that do not have hardware-decoding support for this format, it does require a decent processor in order to be able to play the video. With higher resolutions, this becomes more of an issue.
DIVX/XVID AVI, a format used a lot with internet-obtained movies. The format itself offers a reasonable compression, so files are not too large, and processor requirements are not that much either, however, most portable devices are not able to play these videos without installing an additional video player on the device. For a similar quality, files created using DIVX generally need to be 2x as large as ones created using H264 in order to get the same visual quality.
MPEG2 VOB MPG, the format used by DVDs. Good quality and a very low processor requirement, but in turn very large files. In order to get the same quality as H264, the video file will end up at least 4x as large. Aside from the need for installing an additional video player on a portable device, you might even run into limitations regarding the file-size in order to be able to play the videos.
If you are using a portable device such as a tablet/smartphone for your videos already, I would suggest to try those files on the computer you want to use, and see how that works out for you. For my own use, I have a large external harddrive loaded with movies and TV shows I converted using a format that works on my tablets and smartphone, and these videos play just fine on my computers as well. It is isn't hard for me to find the original disc of a movie when I want to watch it, however, it is quicker to copy a movie over from the external drive to a tv connected device for me than to sit through the numerous trailers and warnings that the actual disc forces me to watch.
By using the same format for your computer and your smartphone/tablet, you eliminate the need of converting your movie twice, and, it gives you the ability to copy the movies over when you are on the go (vacation/trip) with both devices.
Note on resolution and quality:
It is always best to convert your movies at the original resolution. While you can "upscale" a low resolution movie during conversion to a higher resolution (DVD to HD 1080p), similar as zooming into a picture, the individual pixels of the movie are just enlarged. With more pixels, the file-size increases and also the amount of power needed to play the movie, resulting in no quality benefit at all. The video player/tv itself will perform the same scaling to the video, so it is better to have a higher quality original resolution file than a larger resolution, larger and more processor demanding file with the same (or less) quality.
For more information on this, visit this link:
The Smartphone hunt:
I figured that documenting my experiences while searching for a replacement for my Galaxy Nexus it would be easier to make a choice, but nothing is further from the truth. While I always do a bit of research on technology items that catch my interest, with smartphones, a lot more is involved than just picking one.
The functionality of smartphones is mostly the same, but there wouldn't be such a big market if there were no differences. Specifications are not something I consider as something really useful for determining which one is better for me, especially with many companies performing tricks to make benchmarks run a bit faster on their devices, so on a purely device focused look, only size, weight and features make a difference.
Unfortunately that by itself isn't enough either. The actual carrier you use makes the biggest difference. You can pick the latest and greatest phone on the planet, but if your carrier sucks, you end up with a fancy-looking MP3 player instead of a superphone. And with these carriers there is also no sure way of telling which one is best, because it differs greatly per location, especially when you live/work a few miles outside a major city area.
So, aside from tasking myself with picking what I believe is the best choice for me, I'm also stuck with determining if I should stay with the carrier I have or if I should switch to something different.
I use Verizon at the moment, but the reception in my area is abysmal to say the least. In order to be able to have reception in my home office, I was forced to get a signal booster that actually connects to my internet connection. So, effectively, I am paying Verizon my monthly fee, while they are using my internet subscription to provide me with service. On top of that, if I walk outside, I have no reception at all.
T-Mobile has a better signal here (well, a service partner from T-Mobile), so it makes it a better choice to move to them. With ther (this week announced) global data plan, it also results in me being able to use my phone for more than a music/video player while visiting my parents overseas, which is also quite interesting. And, their pricing is about half of what I pay Verizon, which is even more compelling.
But, everyone I talk to brings up that T-Mobile's data service is very very bad.
With all this, my likely choice will be to pick up a phone off-contract, which would enable me to switch providers if needed (or get a sim from a different provider).
One thing I haven't fully figured out yet is if these newer phones, such as the S4 and the Note 3, actually have the ability to work on both Verizon and T-Mobile. I know ATT and T-Mobile are compatible, but both Sprint and Verizon use different network technologies, and while LTE isn't that important to me, it would be nice to be able to use at least 3G on more than one network.
And that is it for DVD Catalyst Newsletter 125. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend,
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 is the fastest, easiest and most affordable solution available for optimizing your movies and TV shows from DVD and for converting popular (AVI, MKV, VOB, ISO, M2TS etc) video file formats into video files for perfect, stutter-free playback on PCs, smartphones and tablets.
With support for 1000's of different devices, including the latest Android, Amazon, Apple and Samsung devices, DVD Catalyst 4 makes it as easy as 1 2 3 for you to put your own movies on whatever device you would like to use for entertainment for yourself (or your children) on trips, flights or a boring stay in the waiting room.
For a limited time available for only $9.95, less than the price of a single movie on Google Play or iTunes, you can watch your own DVD collection on your tablet or smartphone, without having to purchase or rent the same movies movies again from an online movie store such as iTunes or Google Play.
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