Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 105.
A bit later than usual, but still made it today. Some important appointments needed to be kept, and I had some errands to do. At least back on somewhat of a normal schedule now, and I’m hoping it will stay that way for a while.
As mentioned in the previous newsletter, it has been a bit hectic recently, but thankfully things are getting back to normal again. My wife is doing quite well, after the 2 weeks in the hospital, and she has been moving around a lot more.
What she used to do in a week she can now do in a day, which is a good thing.
Let’s start with this week’s tech news:
Xbox One | Meet Xbox One - Xbox.com
This week was a big week for Microsoft. The last of the “Next Generation” of video game systems, the new XBOX was announced. Previously referred to as Codename Durango and the XBOX720, Microsoft opted for XBOX One.
The idea behind the XBOX One itself seems to be based off of the Google TV though. A box that places itself as the central hub of your living room entertainment setup, with your TV receiver box connected to it to enable you a quick switch between gaming and TV, and offering DVR-like functionality on top of it.
I like the thought behind it, but it might be a bit much for many people. Being able to use the XBOX as a DVR, with guide functionality and the likes is cool, but I’m sure that many people that would go for the latest XBOX already have a DVR setup, TiVo, Hopper etc.
In addition, with the XBOX becoming a centerpiece in an entertainment setup, it makes it a lot harder to just grab the thing and take it to a different room or to a buddy, as is commonly done in dormitories.
Then there is some vagueness on used games. For quite a few months there were rumors on used game sales being prevented in some way. The announcement of the XBOX One, as well as some posts on the web that followed afterwards, did address something about this, and it appears that games will be locked to an account, and when these games are sold, the license will be removed from the account.
Retailers reportedly briefed on how the Xbox One used-games market will work
If true, this would mean that you cannot just borrow or lend a game to/from a buddy for the weekend, or, and this is even worse, use the same game on an XBOX with different user accounts (buy a game for your kids, and they cannot play under their own name). Of course this is all still quite vague, and I’m sure that, even though the box was actually shown, Microsoft is looking at all the rants and speculation on the web and adjusting some things here and there, but who knows what will happen.
Last week, nVidia Shield went up for pre-order, and that is something I’ve been looking at since it was first announced. The device itself, sort of a combination of a gamepad and an Android tablet by itself is quite interesting, but what makes it unique is that one of its features is that it streams games from PCs.
More about that below.
Tips & Tricks:
This week, some non-DVD Catalyst/non-video conversion tips for a change.
* Microsoft Windows 8 User Guide (pdf):
Since Windows 8 was released, I have had quite a few people either email me or comment in regards of difficulties with Windows 8. While under the hood it still has the desktop similar to the one found in previous versions, it has a different interface on top that makes things a bit different.
This official Microsoft document should help you in getting to know Windows 8 a bit better:
Download Windows 8 End User Training Brochure from Official Microsoft Download Center
* Lock screen Widgets on Android:
While I am a developer, I hardly ever use the features of devices I use to the fullest. I knew that it was possible to do something with the lock-screen on my phone, but just never gotten to it.
Somehow earlier this week, I lost the clock on the lock-screen on my phone, and had a bit of a struggle in order to get it back. This article got me though it:
How to: Setup Lockscreen Widgets in Android 4.2 [Beginners' Guide] ? Droid Life
Android Open Platform Gaming Portable | NVIDIA SHIELD
With their increasing popularity of tablets, companies have been trying to integrate them into the living room experience. With more and more second-screen experiences for TV show playback, movie apps, games, you can get a lot of extra functionality to your entertainment. But, who actually makes use of that on a regular basis?
When I am watching something on TV or playing a game of some sort, the only time I grab the tablet is either during commercials, loading screens or when I want to look up something while pausing my show or game.
A few times I tried the X-ray functionality on my Kindle Fire, and even some second-screen stuff with Game of Thrones, but it gets in the way of the actual experience. I see it as something a bit more advanced as special features included on a DVD, and while nice, I see it only being useful when you are bored and want to know a bit more about what and how.
For me, a tablet is more useful as a first-screen device instead.
My wife and I have completely different tastes in content. While we do share interests in shows like The Apprentice, Amazing Race, Survivor, she is more into True Blood, Housewives and Lifetime shows, and I’m more Game of Thrones and 80′s style action movies. So I usually watch my content on a tablet while she is watching hers on the TV.
For many years, I’ve been looking for something that would enable me to do something other than just watch shows in the evening. I could go into another room and use a gaming console on a TV there, or use a computer in my office, but it doesn’t always work that way for me, so I use something a bit more portable to entertain myself.
A laptop is too cumbersome, so since its release, I’ve been using the Surface Pro for this. Still cumbersome and battery-life when playing a game for more than an hour requires me to leave it plugged in. It works, but it’s not perfect.
I also have a PS Vita, mainly for development and testing purposes, but I do have a few games for it, and it continues to be a major disappointment. I wish Sony would take the device more seriously. The majority of the games released for it are similar in game play as ones made for the Nintendo 3DS, and others are more in line with Smartphone games.
With the PS4, Sony supposedly plans to offers a remote-play feature with the PS Vita, but it looks like it streams from one of Sony’s servers, rather than the actual PS4 within the home, so internet speed will play a big role.
nVidia Shield runs Android on the latest Tegra chipset, making it great for Android games on the go, but its main feature is its ability to stream PC games from a compatible gaming PC.
No mobile-optimized games just made to resemble their bigger counterparts in looks but lack any game play, full ones that often even look better than those on gaming consoles.
With both new consoles using hardware similar to that of a gaming PC, the majority of next-gen games will be developed on a pc, and while there are of course company exclusives such as God of War (Sony) and Halo (Microsoft), many games for XBOX and PS4 will appear on PC as well.
With nVidia Shield, the game runs on your computer, and the screen is directed to the Shield’s screen. The controller input on the Shield are redirected to the PC.
Regardless of how big the game is, battery life is not an issue, since the heavy work is done by the PC, and the visuals are as good as your system can deliver.
While the device itself is designed for gaming, I’m sure that over time, either official or by some modification, it will be possible to use other applications on it as well.
Media playback, using a DVD or Bluray player application will likely be one of the first non-gaming scenarios, software applications like Office, Adobe etc will likely be enabled as well.
While much of this is already possible with remote apps like Splashtop, Remote Desktop, VNC and Citrix, doing it by tying directly into the video card driver like what Shield does, things will run quite a bit smoother, especially with applications where animations are key.
While the Shield will work great as a handheld system, I can see nVidia releasing a Shield Box next. A device, not much different from the Ouya, which would connect to the TV, rather than using its own screen (and thus a lot more affordable) and enable the streaming PC game playback directly on TV, or as some sort of client-server/mainframe system on a monitor in a different location.
It would revolutionize the “Media PC” market by enabling you to keep a powerful but noisy PC in the basement, while still having full access to all its capabilities anywhere in the house where you want.
I am looking forward to the PS4 and the XBOX One, mainly because of their performance increase compared to the current ones, and of course what developers are able to squeeze out of it, but I think with all their added functionality, it becomes impossible to see the forest through the trees.
With the current generation, online gaming has gained a lot of popularity, and it is partially responsible for the success of the whole social experience with sites like Facebook and twitter, but with a full integration into our lives, I think they are starting to lose the concept of entertainment.
Touch Screen and wrist/elbow pains.
Last night, I stumbled upon this post on SurfaceForums:
I mentioned something like this a while ago in one of the newsletters. With the move towards touch-screen on the desktop with the release Windows 8, it was to be expected that people are more likely to run into these issues.
Reaching up to touch the screen puts additional strain on the wrist and elbow, and is (in my opinion) more damaging than using a mouse to navigate around.
Using a touch screen in tablet mode usually involves having the tablet on your lap and just tapping downwards, but with an actual screen in front of you, things are quite a bit different.
Having worked in the computer industry for more than 20 years, and an additional 10 on a personal basis, I have been enduring wrist issues for many years. I can no longer use a mouse for more than just a few minutes before my wrists lock up. An operation is a possibility, but I’m not sure if the 50/50 success rate is worth the gamble to be out of commission (read: not being able to work) for a couple of months is worth it.
What helps me every day is the use of a trackball (Amazon.com: Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse: Electronics).
When these things first came out, featured on laptops before the track pad was invented, I wasn’t impressed. It seemed cumbersome and slow to use them, but after pushing through, I can no longer do without it.
The hunt for the perfect device.
With my wife in the hospital earlier this month, (she has been out for a week now, and she is still doing quite good), I tried to find the perfect device to use while staying with her, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything that I could classify as the “perfect device”.
For a short time-period, just about anything with a screen and some media content (movies, TV shows, games) on it will do just fine, but if it is for a longer period of time (2 weeks in this case), some things come into play that might affect your usage and expectations.
In the previous newsletter, I wrote about my personal experiences with some of the devices I have, https://www.tools4movies.com/dvd-cat...ewsletter-104/, as well as some of my requirements and wishes when using them.
The last week I have been switching between different devices on and off to get a better feel for them, in the hopes of finding the perfect one for me for when I do end up away from a desk for a longer period of time again.
I know there are quite a few people out there who use tablets on the go for work-purposes. Some people just use their tablets for a quick presentation or demo of some sorts, but others are able to get some real work done on them with the help of an office app or a remote desktop application.
If you have been able to pull away from a laptop/ultrabook and are using a tablet for work, please be so kind to share some of your experiences and usage scenarios.
And that is all for this week’s newsletter. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.
(if you do use your devices for work-purposes on the go, please be so kind as to share a bit of your usage-scenario and personal experiences).
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