Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 143.
Tech-news was a bit blah this week, probably because the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona being around the corner, but I was able to find a few things that caught my attention, so lets get started:
SEGA Mega Drive Gets The Transformers Treatment - IGN
A combination of two of my favorite childhood memories. In Japan, an officially licensed Megatron Transformer is being released, and is based on the Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis console.
Samsung vs Apple Patent Battle.
While not as prominently in the news anymore (people are getting tired of it I guess), the battle between Apple and Samsung is still going on.
It seems to me that some favoritism is being shown towards Apple, with even the White House picking sides (Did Obama Just Pick Sides in the Apple-Samsung Patent War? - Businessweek).
This week, I stumbled upon a post on SlashGear (link) where a motion for a retrial from Samsung was denied, and it had an interesting quote from one of Apple's lawyers:
When I was young, I used to watch television on televisions that were manufactured in the United States. Magnavox, Motorola, RCA. These were real companies. They were well known and they were famous. They were creators. They were inventors. They were like the Apple and Google today.
But they didn't protect their intellectual property. They couldn't protect their ideas. And you all know the result. There are no American television manufacturers today.
Maybe the 100's of pages of court-related materials tired them out a bit, but the reason why these companies are no longer American television manufacturers is not because of patents, but because manufacturing is cheaper (and thus more profitable) overseas. It is unfortunate that a lawyer that makes more money per hour that about 100 people who work in a factory putting TV's together make in a day doesn't realize that.
NOOK on its last legs.
B&N pares back NOOK hardware team as ereader slumps [Update] - SlashGear
With a disappointing holiday season (60% less) B&N is cutting further into its NOOK division, and future prospects for a new NOOK tablet are slim. With Sony stepping out of the eReader business, there isn't much competition for Amazon's Kindle line, except for Apple (the iPad, but maybe even an e-Ink iPad for just reading, the iBOOK/iMAG?), Kobo and B&N.
iPhone 6 Rumors.
This week, a lot of iPhone 6 stuff started to appear on the web. Cool as it may look, the images resembled that of a Galaxy Note 3 with the difference being a round button (instead of a rounded rectangle). But, it ended up all the images were fakes. iPhone 6 leak confirmed rendered fakery: seek the smudge - SlashGear
This week, we also seen some rumors on Microsoft and Android. Apparently, Nokia is working on a new Android phone, but instead of Google services, it will feature Nokia/Microsoft features instead, presumably to act as a side-business for its Windows Phone division. Also rumored is that they might be contemplating to add Android support in Windows Phone.
The inclusion of Bing is of course an obvious choice, but for an Appstore, will it end up building its own, or rely on Amazon Apps?
It all looks like scrambling to me. Currently you can get a free Windows Phone if you get a year subscription of XBOX Music, now Android stuff mixed with its own mobile OS. I don't know, but it reminds of of Blackberry, whom also tried these things, and are not doing so well these days.
My own conversion settings:
A few days ago, someone asked me for some of my own conversion preferences with DVD Catalyst 4.
Why do I use DVD Catalyst 4?
Well, it makes sense, since I am the developer. However, the reason why I developed DVD Catalyst is because there is nothing out there that does what it does. I've tried many of the other solutions out there, and while some work better than others, there is always something I need that is missing. DVD Catalyst 4 is sort of a mixture of all the features of all those tools, combined into a single application.
Why do I convert videos?
I have videos in quite a few different formats, and while there are plenty of players that support multiple formats, I convert my videos for performance and compatibility reasons. By converting AVI, MKV etc to MP4 format, I can play the same video file on all the (Android/Apple) devices I use for my own viewing experience, without the need of fiddling with other players or do tricks to get the video on the device (iPad), and if I use my iPad or Galaxy Note, I can even send the video from the tablet/phone directly to the TV.
In addition to the compatibility with multiple devices, the MP4 format is also hardware-supported on everything I use, so battery-life is better, and I can use the best quality settings without having playback issues such as stutter/freezing.
What is my favorite format?
HQXT. This is a special variation profile available for many of the devices listed in DVD Catalyst. DVD Catalyst 4 has plenty of "smart" features where it actually "looks" at the requested settings and the original source video settings to get the best results, but the HQXT profile versions go a step further with that, resulting in smaller file-sizes AND better quality, something impossible with most other conversion tools on the market.
The HQXT formats are compatible with the majority of Android and Apple devices, so selecting any profile will work fine, however, the screen-size does make a difference. I usually pick a profile with a resolution higher than that of what I convert (usually Amazon > Kindle Fire HD HQXT when I convert DVDs) so that DVD Catalyst uses the original resolution, but for some older devices, such as the iPod Touch 3, iPad 2, NOOK color, there is a resolution limit that can come into play if you want to use those to play the videos, in which case its best to stick to profiles for those devices instead.
My additional settings tweaks:
When providing support, I often end up resetting it to its defaults to make sure no setting-changes are affecting the result, and going through numerous options to set it the way I want to is a big hassle, so, with me being the developer, the majority of settings in DVD Catalyst 4 are based on my own preference, so I can use the defaults with great results.
However, there are a few settings I do use once in a while that, considering the impact they have on quality and playback, are not enabled by default.
A recently added feature I came up with to save me some time. Located in the "Magic Hat" menu entry at the top right, this setting results in a 10% faster playback for the video.
Because the movie plays back a bit faster, it shaves off almost 15 minutes from a 2 hour movie, without cutting anything out, saving some time. It does adjust the voice pitch a little, which for people with sensitive hearing can be a bit annoying, but for me, it sounds pretty good.
As an added bonus, the framerate of the video gets sped up a little as well, resulting in a smoother video playback and, especially with action movies, can make the adrenaline-scenes a whole new experience. Watching a high-speed chase scene in movies like Avengers or Death Race at a slightly faster speed is amazing imho.
For movies with a lot of talk instead of guns/engines, I'd recommend NOT using Timesaver though.
Also located in the "Magic Hat", this setting is safe to use for all types of movies and shows.
The setting smooths out small artifacts in the video by performing a very slight blur on them. In particular low-quality video files (DIVX rips for example) or movies that are low-quality VHS to DVD transfers or movies made to look more "nostalgic" by inclusion of small specs, black dots etc, this blur can make the video appear cleaner than the original source, and, because these random quality issues often translate in wasted data, files end up smaller as well.
As mentioned, the rest of the settings I use for my own conversions are the defaults, and more often than not, I don't even make any changes. The Amazon > Kindle Fire profile that is selected after a clean install of DVD Catalyst works just fine for all I use to play videos on, so if I want to do a quick conversion of something, I usually end up using that.
One thing I do need to mention is that I use my own conversions as additional "testing" of DVD Catalyst. I have a few of my favorite videos saved in MP4 format, but mostly when I want to watch a video, I convert something right then and there. If I think of a movie for the night, I start the conversion of that movie from its original source before supper, and after supper is done, I copy it over and watch it, and delete it the next day.
Of course I can store the MP4's on an external drive and not have to go through the conversion process again, but for me, the conversion process itself gives me an extra test to make sure nothing I did with DVD Catalyst updates since the last time I converted the movie hurt quality or stability with the new conversion.
For normal use, it makes sense storing your MP4's on an external harddrive, and use them whenever you want a few movies on your device. Even if you upgrade to a different/newer model later-on, chances are (at least for the next couple of Android/Apple incarnations) that your videos will work just fine then as well.
PS Vita vs nVidia Shield:
Earlier this week, I posted up a comparison article on the PS Vita and the nVidia Shield:
Since writing the article (last weekend), I've logged a few more hours on both setups, but mainly on the PS Vita. I don't know why, but it just seems to work better. Maybe the entire Playstation "trophy" system behind it that makes it more interesting. On the XBOX 360, I wasn't too concerned with achievements either, except for Fallout 3, and Steam (PC) also has something similar, but I never bothered with that at all.
I'm also more confident in making the right choice of picking the Playstation 4 over the XBOX One.
In the article I mentioned that I have no use for the additional, non-gaming functionality of the XBOX One.
Of course all over the web are rants on screen resolution, and which system is better, faster, prettier, but I'm not too concerned with that. Sure, a better quality and smoother playback experience helps a lot in making it more enjoyable, but in the end, its gameplay that makes the difference.
Its ability to work together with a TV set-top box as an overlay on top of TV playback seems cool, but for me, the gaming system sits in a room where TV isn't used for that. I watch my own shows on a tablet, unless my wife is (rarely) doing something other than watching her shows on TV, so the PS4 is setup in my office. When she is doing something else, I can disconnect 3 cables (power, hdmi and network) and hook it up in the other room in a few seconds, and it is ready to go. With the XBOX One, it will be a bit more work.
The gesture and voice controls that the Kinect offer are cool, but for me a bit gimmicky and annoying. Earlier today I watched a stream on Twitch where a guy almost shut off his XBOX One because he was yawning.
To me, the XBOX One is spreading itself too thin. It tries to do too much in order to get a prime spot in the living room, but to me, a gaming system shouldn't try and compete with actual TV shows and movies, but stand on its own. Tablets and smartphones are already doing that, so for me, being able to use a gaming system in a similar way as you would with a tablet/smartphone, while watching/listening to TV is a better choice.
Again, not much to work with, but hopefully things will pick up as we are getting closer to WMC Barcelona (24-27 feb).
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. Oh, and it is Valentines Day today, so if you are reading this at work, don't forget to pickup something when you are heading home.
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 is the easiest and most affordable software available for converting and optimizing your movies and TV shows from DVD and for converting popular (AVI, MKV, ISO etc) video files into the right file format for PCs, smartphones and tablets.
With the click of a button, convert DVDs or video files, remove black bars, include subtitles or closed captions.
With 1000's of tablet and smartphone profiles, you can easily select your device, and get the best quality videos for it. Of course DVD Catalyst 4 supports the latest devices, such as Apple iPad Air, iPad Mini, Retina iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4,Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Barnes & Noble NOOK HD, NOOK HD+, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX, Google Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and much more.
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