DVD Catalyst Newsletter 138 – 01-10-14

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    Hi,

    Thank you for reading the 138th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.

    A big week this week, the yearly Consumer Electronics Show was this week, and a lot of cool stuff has been announced. There is way too much to list, so I'll just pick out a few things that caught my interest. For full details on everything CES, just visit the official site (Home - 2014 International CES, January 7-10), the company-website of your favorite product brands, or one of the many tech-websites such as Engadget, Wired, Slashgear etc.


    Lets get started


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    Tech News:


    (Note: the information below is based on second-hand information. While I would love to be able to attend the CES and other tradeshows, I am unable to do so. The product info below comes from articles that interest me and were posted on tech websites that do have a presence at CES).



    4K TV:


    Probably the biggest this year at CES is the new 4K TV standard. While there were quite a few on display last year, availability and pricing kept it from the average consumer. With technology, prices always go down over time, and this year, these new TV's are getting into a price range that make them worth considering over similar-sized 1080p TV's.


    Unfortunately, while the TV's are having a bit of a head start on this size though. Actual video content in 4K resolution is extremely rare. Netflix is working on streaming in 4K resolution this year, but the internet-speed requirements to be able to display it are quite high. There is currently no disc-based 4K playback solution in sight and Bluray doesn't go higher than 1080p.

    Spec Sheet: the curving, flexing, and low-cost 4K TVs of CES 2014 | The Verge


    3D TV:


    While there were some improvements with 3D TV, with some companies working on glasses-free 3D, it seems to be on its way out. Sony, mostly responsible for the relatively quick adoption of Bluray thanks to the Playstation 3 decided to not include 3D movie support with the Playstation 4 (yet), which, to me, is also somewhat of a sign of the end of 3D.

    CES 2014 Is Turning Into A Funeral For 3D


    Curved TV:


    This is more likely the next step with TV in my opinion. 4K will grow when the content is actually there, but curved TV's are useful now.

    TV's are getting bigger, but the size of the living-room doesn't change. With many people moving towards a 48"+ size TV, the distance needed to be able to normally see the entire screen places them outside of the room, so tv watching becomes a more physical experience by having to turn your head slightly.

    With TV's curved, just like our eyes are, the actual width of the TV is a bit less while still providing the same physical size display. It will take a bit to get used to, but I can already see a nice curved TV sitting in the corner here

    CES 2014: Samsung Unveils First Curved Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs SAMSUNG


    Smart TV:


    Continuing on its growing popularity, network-connected TV's (Smart TV's) are becoming more and more the norm. Taking away the need for using a secondary device to provide access to services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant, as well as providing access to other features such as streaming video from a network device, games and social apps, and even TV suggestions, the TV is becoming more and more powerful.

    CES 2014: The death of Roku, and can UHDTV succeed where 3D TV failed? | ExtremeTech


    Smart watches:


    While there are still a few companies displaying smart watches at CES, it seems that the idea behind them has turned into "fitness bands". Similar as smartwatches in that it connects to a phone, rather than duplicating functionality from the phone, these bands keep track of your daily activities without getting in the way of them. Life-logging seems to be a term associated with these bands, monitoring your movement, sleep, and even pictures taken when and where.


    For health and fitness purposes, these bands are of course extremely useful, but with all the privacy concerns going on these days, storing this data in digital form on your phone and a cloud-based system, or having it connected to something social like Facebook or Google+ is something to think about.

    CES 2014 Trends: Everybody's Making Fitness Trackers and Smart Watches, But Who Will Succeed? - IEEE Spectrum


    Playstation Now:


    Sony announced its upcoming game-streaming service. Rather than including backwards compatibility for playing PS3 games on the PS4, the Playstation Now service will enable people to stream games from Sony's servers over the internet on a variety of different devices. At first, of course the PS4 and PS Vita will have access to it, but they are also implementing it in their Bravia TV line-up and even tablets.

    PlayStation Now Streaming Game Service Coming this Summer ? PlayStation.Blog

    It was bound to happen after Sony bought a game-streaming company a few years ago, but still this is a very interesting development. For me, using a gaming system in a living room environment is, due to my wife's health, somewhat of a rare occurrence, and I get my gaming done using some form of remote setup. The nVidia Shield is my perfect companion, providing the ability to play games located on the PC in my office, anywhere in the house, something Sony replicated with the Vita and the recent PS4 release, but the requirement of a "master device" is a bit of a hurdle.


    Last month, nVidia launched a beta of its own game-streaming service, which takes away this hurdle, and more or less makes the Shield stand more on its own, and now it is Sony's turn.

    While it is a great and interesting move, I'm not sure if it is a wise business decision though. Sure, if they offer the service for about $20/mo for full access (similarly priced as Gamefly's disc-based renting) they could be making some money, but how will it affect sales of their consoles (PS4 and Vita). The new consoles are great and all, but if I can stream Fallout 3/Skyrim/Oblivion etc on my tablet, or even better, my nVidia Shield, why on earth would I get a new system?


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    Shorts:

    World Wrestling Entertainment Digital Subscription $10/mo:

    WWE Network to stream choke slams 24 hours a day for $10 a month

    WWE announced at CES the upcoming availability of a subscription based streaming network of its shows. The subscription includes access to past, present and future PayPerView events, which normally run around the $50.


    Regardless of if you like wrestling or not, this is quite a big deal. WWE is still one of the most-watched TV shows in the US, and thus its move to streaming might entice TV networks to follow suit. Right now, my Tivo has access to about 300 different channels, but maybe 10 of them are actually being watched. Unfortunately, the cable company put a lot of thought in their channel bundles so in order to get channel X, Y and Z, you need to get their second-biggest package. If more channels would come with an offer similar as WWE, even with 10 channels at $10 a pop I would be saving money by dropping cable and TiVo.


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    DVD Catalyst Tips:

    Automating DVD Catalyst:

    A few days ago, someone contacted me in regards of command-line options for profiles in DVD Catalyst. This person was working on a little app to automate DVD Catalyst conversions for 3 different device profiles. He had a lot of videos to convert, so rather than doing everything by hand, he decided to write a small app that would do it for him.

    The question from this person is precisely the reason why I started development of DVD Catalyst so many years ago, and I was pleased to be able to tell this person that what he was working on with his little app was actually already build-in to DVD Catalyst.


    DVD Catalyst was created to take away as many clicks as possible. At the time of the first release, there were a few paid apps that would require you to click through 10 pages of stuff before it would do its thing, or you could follow the steps in a guide that would take you through using a multitude of free applications and countless steps of trial and error to get the results you want.


    So, we figured we make something that would make things as effortless as possible. While still enabling full control to the user, we wanted to offer the ability of full automation; every step of the process of converting video from one format to another needed to be able to run automatically.



    0-Click:


    An often overlooked feature of DVD Catalyst 4 is "0-click". The biggest "problem" people run into if they have a large amount of content is that with conversion tools you have to add the content and setup a conversion for it. Some tools offer a form of "batch" mode, which would let you setup the same conversion for a lot of files, but most conversion tools, its all one item at a time, and either convert them, or add one item at a time to a "batch" process.


    DVD Catalyst has been ahead of the pack for years by offering drag&drop support for video files and auto-detect of DVD drives (one or multiple) which can be converted to video files for a specific device with a single click, but it actually goes far beyond that alone.


    Batch-conversions are easy, but if you have a lot of different content, different resolutions, different languages, subtitles or not, then it can become quite tedious to manually have to tweak each conversion to fit your needs. DVD Catalyst 4 is capable of selecting audio and subtitles based on your own preferences (Global Settings > Language tab), rotation and border removal (Global Settings > Borders tab) and handles different framerates and screensizes (PAL/NTSC etc) all automatically so you don't have to.


    In addition to that, it can do its work without user input if desired (Global Settings > Automation). It already monitors DVD drives, but you can tell it to monitor folders on your computer for new content. You can tell it to start a conversion whenever it detects new content and if you want you can have it start when you turn on your computer and all you need to do then is put a DVD in your drive, and when the drive is ejected, put in a new disc and close the tray.



    Multi-Device:


    The other part of the question from the person who contacted me on command line options was because he needed to convert his videos for 3 different devices.


    For me, I have been using portable devices capable of video playback for over a decade, and as of such, I've build up a nice collection of different tablets, smartphones and even PDA's.

    While I don't use all of them on a daily basis, I do have a few that I use, depending on my needs, or, more common for me, whichever one has a charged battery. Of course my scenario is a bit different than most, but if you have multiple people in your household that are using smartphones and/or tablets, it can be a bit of work to get your videos to work on all of them.


    Most current devices use the same video format, but there are some differences and limitations that could affect playback on one or another device. An MP4 file could play just fine on your Galaxy Note 3, but when you try it on a family members iPhone 4s, it might not play properly, so you might need to use different settings for each device you have.


    With all other conversion tools, this means you need to convert your video using settings for one device first, and then repeat the entire process for the second device, and again for a third and so on.


    With DVD Catalyst 4 you can, similar as if you create a batch session of multiple video files, setup a "device list". You can add as many devices as you want/need, each with their own settings, and when you start a conversion, DVD Catalyst will convert each item for each device you setup. Converting a DVD for 3 different devices is a single click. Converting 10 different MKV video files using 5 different settings you want to try to see what works best for you, again, just 1 click.




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    Thoughts:

    User Accounts:

    These days when you purchase a tech-product, there are all these accounts that need to be setup and product registrations completed in order to be able to use it. Product registration for warranty, store-account required to be able to download updates, email account information needed to receive product information, movie accounts to use Vudu, Amazon, Netflix, social network integration to have the device post stuff to your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vine, My Space etc.

    With so many accounts, it is hard to keep track of which company knows what about you, and of course each of these companies have their own user agreements (read: information sharing/selling policy) and their own security flaws. For convenience, many people use the same login details for accounts with different companies, and all it takes is one of those being a bit insecure or careless with their data, and someone has access to a lot more information about you. With everything integrated, a simple visit to a social site such as Twitter/Facebook gives access to a nice history of you. What devices you have, where you go, what you eat, when you go on vacation and so on. Of course all this information is interesting to your friends and family, but it isn't hard for a stranger to find out everything about you, and with only one of the sites you register on making an honest mistake in their security, and it could be a disaster.


    Almost every day you see in the news that a site was hacked and accounts compromised. Last month, SnapChat was hacked (link) and even big corporations like Apple (link), Adobe(link) and Sony(link) have a hard time keeping their systems secure, and yet the hunger for personal information continues.


    This year, one of the biggest newcomer groups at the Consumer Electronics Show is the "health band". Our waking hours are already filled with technology, so now companies are looking into technology that works in our sleep as well. Small wrist bands/bracelets that monitor our movement and behavior 24/7, logging the information to a smartphone/tablet. Life-logging seems to be a popular term used to describe these devices, and while its a nice idea, it is also a nice way to keep track of your every move, and yet another company that holds your personal information and your full life-log handy for you (and others) online.



    My wrist:

    As mentioned last week, I hurt my wrist after slipping on some ice while shoveling snow outside, and it has been a bit of a bother. Right now, my wrist is doing better (thanks for the support), but its still a bit sore. I can actually use it a bit more than last week, but I'm still taking it easy with it. Thankfully we haven't had snow, so no shoveling, and with typing it doesn't seem to be a bother either so I have been able to put more development time in than the last 2 weeks.



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    Closings:

    Well, this is is for this weeks newsletter.


    Thanks again for reading, and have a great weekend


    Sincerely,

    Mitch


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