Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 69.
With a lot of stuff out of the way, I managed to get quite a bit accomplished this week. Aside from getting a very large part done for a website a good friend of mine, I finished up a pretty big DVD Catalyst update (both Beta and Official). In addition to that, of this week has seen the release of The Hunger Games on DVD/Bluray and Expendables 2 in the theaters. And last but not least, Samsung released its flagship tablet for this year, the Galaxy Note 10.1.
Amazon has provided the internet with a date for its upcoming press event, Thursday, September 6th. Last year's event we saw, among other things, the release of the Kindle Fire, and of course this year, expectations are high for its successor and, with Barnes and Noble's release of the NOOK Simple Touch GlowLight, an eReader with its own light to make reading in the dark easier, the rumor mill is speculating a Kindle with a light in it as well.
The original Kindle Fire, thanks to its tight integration with other services from Amazon is still one of the devices I enjoy using, so I'm excited to see what Amazon does to improve.
And almost a week after Amazon, Apple is having its major announcement session on the 12th. For many months rumors have been popping up regarding the possibility of the iPhone 5, iPad Mini and an Apple TV being announced, so I'm looking forward to see what Apple will be offering.
Today new rumors popped up mentioning a possibility that this event will not include new iPad information, iPhone 5 event tipped for split from iPad mini on September 12 - SlashGear , which, if true, might give Amazon a bit of extra time in order to gain additional sales.
OnLive, a company that provides access to games by means of streaming from other computers, enabling people to play games that are otherwise not supported on their device, closed shop and re-opened itself not too much later. There are a lot of rumors going around about why, but the whole scenario doesn't look too clean if you ask me.
Last Friday morning, information started appearing on the web about lay-offs at OnLive. Supposedly everything was fine, but by the end of the day, it was announced that OnLive was acquired by a newly-formed company.
To me, the whole ordeal looks rather fishy. This so-called restructuring resulted in killing off the stake investors had in the company. Big name companies, who backed OnLive, providing the funds for them to be what they are, such as HTC, Warner Bross, Autodesk all lost their stakes in the company, but aside from that, a majority of employees, working long hours to get it up and running, received partial payment by means of shares, which now are totally worthless.
Later it was found out that one of the original backers "purchased" the company's assets.
On Forbes.com, an official statement with a Q&A was posted and one thing mentioned there is scary.
"The company is actively seeking additional funding"
With major investors already having lost millions thanks to this restructuring, who in their right mind would provide them additional funds?
For more information:
OnLive - SlashGear
OnLive Acquired By Lauder Partners Affiliate, FAQ Issued to Quell Rumors - Forbes
OnLive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ubisoft Piracy Rate.
Earlier this week, Ubisoft outed that the piracy rate for PC games is 93/95%, and that the "Free2Play" model with ingame purchases is the way of the future.
I chuckled when I read that.
When it comes to PC Games, Ubisoft is notorious for using very severe DRM. A permanent internet connection is often required in order to play one of their games, and of course games need to be activated after purchase in order for them to work, and, especially with big-name releases, their activation servers don't tend to hold up that well, resulting in a lot of people waiting for hours in order to be able to use it.
Because of those limitations and issues, people who want to play their games tend to look for other ways, often downloading so-called "cracks", small patches that eliminate activation systems, CD?DVD checks and the likes.
The reason for my smiling moment when I read the article is even better. I remembered a few years ago that it was Ubisoft themselves who actually distributed one of these cracks to circumvent the copy-protection on one of their own games, Rainbow Six Vegas 2.
The game was offered in both Disc-version and Direct2Drive download version, and unfortunately, when an update patch was released for the game, they "forgot" about the download-version, and a DVD-check was enabled, rendering the game unplayable.
In order to fix the issue, they "obtained" a pirated copy of the game, and distributed the included crack (with some small modifications) to the people who purchased the downloaded version.
So for Ubisoft to claim these high rates of piracy, I'm wondering if these numbers include Rainbow Six Vegas 2.
Personally, I'm not too sure about Free2Play being the solution. I believe that DRM is the problem. You would think that after many years of paying customers complaining about unplayable games that Ubisoft would realize that they are actually pushing people to move towards piracy. If I purchase a new-release game for $60 or so, one I have been waiting all year for, and come home and try and install it and I can't because of connection issues of some sort, of course these people will try and find other means in order to play the game. And of course, for the next game, they will remember and not even bother purchasing the game. This is also one of the main reasons why consoles are more popular for gaming. You buy a game, slide it in the XBOX or PS3, and you are (usually) done.
The thing is, media companies are putting too much focus on piracy, rather than their paying customers. Piracy will always remain, but what they fail to realize is that the majority of people are actually willing to purchase, but just don't want to put up with the crap that prevents them from doing a little more with it. With PC games, being able to play games at a lan-party with friends without having to have a permanent internet connection, with software having the ability to install an application on more than one computer, or with movies, being able to watch it on the go without having to be restricted to certain apps.
If you give your customers some freedom, they will reward you, but by enforcing restrictions upon your paying customers you will push them towards looking into obtaining this freedom using other means.
Guillemot: As many PC players pay for F2P as boxed product | GamesIndustry International
Ubisoft Uses Internet Crack To Get Around Its Own DRM | Techdirt
DVD Catalyst News:
This week, I released two updates for DVD Catalyst 4. The official version has been updated to v4.2.5 and I also updated the public beta of v4.3 to Beta 2.
There was a difference in profiles between the previous official version and the previous beta, making it a bit tricky if you were using the beta and switched back to the official version. With the two updates this week, both versions have the same device profiles.
I tweaked a few things, but the main focus in this update was the addition of a couple of new profiles:
I added a collection of profiles for Yarvik tablets, a popular brand for Android- tablets in Europe. I also included a large amount of Sony's Xperia models, Samsung, (Galaxy Note's and more), Lenovo, and even for the AMP1000 from Diamond Multimedia. All in all, I added about 300 or so new profiles in this version.
Aside from the profiles, I made some changes to the custom subtitles selection dialog (it now opens in the same location as where the video file is located) and the file-transfer dialog, which appeared for devices that didn't work well with it.
Both updates are free for existing users of DVD Catalyst 4. To update the official version, just tap on the cat-eyes in the program, or use your original download link you received upon purchase.
To update the Beta version, go to the "Version Info" tab in Global Settings, and tap on the "Beta" button.
Official: DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2.5 Release Notes | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Beta: DVD Catalyst 4 v4.3 Beta 2 Release Notes | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
This week, The Hunger Games was released on DVD and Bluray, so, as I usually do with big-release movies, I had to make sure they would convert fine with DVD Catalyst 4.
DVD: The Hunger Games 2012 DVD | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Bluray: The Hunger Games (2012) Bluray | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Aside from that, I also picked up a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and a VTech Innotab2, and posted small guides for them on the website:
DVD to Galaxy Note 10.1 | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
DVD to Innotab2 | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Q: Why are there so many device profiles in DVD Catalyst?
A: Unfortunately many devices have certain limitations when it comes to video playback. They use specific video formats, maximum screensize, maximum quality settings etc, and because of these differences, DVD Catalyst 4 contains profiles that correctly set the conversion settings in order to ensure compatibility with that device.
With the market becoming more and more standardized with certain device groups (Android, iOS, Windows Phone etc), and devices becoming more and more powerful, the need for device profiles for newer devices isn't as important as it was with previous generations, however, on a daily basis I receive emails with questions about "I just picked up device X but I don't know what settings to use", so in order to make it as easy as possible for new users, I include profiles for these devices.
Many conversion tools include "Generic" Android and iOS profiles, and while using a similar setup in DVD Catalyst 4 would make things a lot easier for me, the problem with those profiles is that the settings used in those profiles don't always reflect the best settings. Usually the screensize is set smaller than what your device is capable of in order to maintain compatibility with multiple devices, the quality settings might be set to a safe compatibility setting rather than optimized specifically for the device, and in the end, you end up with a video file that just doesn't do justice to your fancy new tablet.
The settings used in the profiles in DVD Catalyst 4 are ones I verified myself. While I do not own every smartphone/tablet/media player that DVD Catalyst 4 has profiles for, I do pick up popular devices that are different in certain ways. When it comes to video, the device group (Apple/Android, Blackberry) plays a large factor in regards of compatibility, but aside from that, also the processor-type used for playing videos makes a huge difference in determining the capability of the device.
Last year, when the Motorola Xoom was first released, people were complaining about 1080p HD video files. In the specifications, it was listed as being fully supported, but on numerous forums and websites people were complaining about 1080p simply not working. Even many similar conversion tool developers claimed it just didn't work, and that the Tegra2 was not capable of 1080p video playback.
So I got myself a Motorola Xoom, and started working with HD video on it, and after a few days, managed to get it working.
Of course the factory specifications of a device are important for determining what types of video something is capable of playing, however, as with the case of the Motorola Xoom, it doesn't always provide enough information in order to get the best possible results, so I made it a habit to pick up devices that are different. If it wasn't for getting a Xoom myself, I wouldn't have been able to get 1080p video to play on it. If I didn't pick up an Innotab, I wouldn't have been able to come up with the proper settings.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Mini review.
I wasn't too sure last week if I would get one, but aside from the different processor used in the Note 10.1, a feature that I have been wanting for a very long time was added to it as well, multi-screen.
Video-wise, I didn't run into any complications. Using DVD Catalyst 4, I created a variety of different MP4 videos using different settings and resolutions, and it played them all without any complications. Even a 5.5GB 1080p version of The Hunger Games played without hickups (from internal memory). The DVD Catalyst 4 updates from this week has profiles for the Note 10.1, and those are based upon my experiences.
The device itself is a mixed bag.
It feels "cheap". Plasticy, and if you hold it with one hand at the edge, it creaks a bit.
The first night I used it, my wife, whom was playing on the iPad3, asked me "Did you buy another one?", referring to the look being very close to that of the iPad. I chuckled, and mentioned to her that both companies are currently in a lawsuit related to that very question.
Anyway, compared to the iPad, it does look like a cheap knock-off.
But, software-wise, things are a little different.
Of course one of its main features is the S-Pen, but aside from playing a bit with it, I don't use it much. The S-apps that ship with the Note work well, but unfortunately an app such as Sketchbook Mobile doesn't recognize the different pressure levels of the S-Pen (yet).
As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is capable of running 2 apps on-screen, at the same time.
or if you are a bit creative, 2 apps AND video playback:
which is really cool.
Not all apps support multi-screen mode, but with a web browser on one side, and video playback on another, it makes it a whole lot more useful and entertaining.
Throughout the week, I have been using it every night, and it has been holding up really well for me. When I am watching a movie on one of my devices, I tend to check emails on a regular basis, and with the Note, I no longer have to use my phone for that, I can do both at the same time on one screen.
Is it worth the $550 (32GB model)?
In my opinion, no.
For me, the Note 10.1 serves multiple purposes. Video-playback aside, Samsung's Touchwiz has been giving me problems in the past in regards of Android (MovieGallery) development, so it will be put to use for that as well. The multi-screen, while I do love it, is currently more of a gimmick. Only Samsung's own apps will work with it, and popular apps such as Gmail and Facebook are best accessed through the web browser rather than their app equivalent. Since most people who would pick up a Galaxy Note 10.1 already own smart phones they can use for informative tasks anyway, I don't see much of an advantage of the Note over other tablets. With last year 10" devices such as the Xoom selling for about half the price, for people who are new to the tablet-market, I would recommend going that way instead.
Tablet line-up for fall 2012:
With upcoming announcements from both Apple (Sept 12th) and Amazon (Sept 6th), which will very likely introduce a new range of tablets, the "premium" line-up for this year will be quite considerable.
Amazon Kindle Fire 2, possibly in a 7" and a 10" version, Apple iPad Mini and the Apple iPad 3, Google Nexus 7, and of course a variety of different tablets from Acer, Asus, Samsung and Toshiba, all have their advantages and disadvantages.
For many people, specifications are quite important, but we are now at a point that for most uses, tablets (and smart phones) that are being released are powerful enough for everything we use them for. Of course there are certain apps and games that push them to their limits, but for most users, even last-generation devices are more than capable of doing whatever they use them for, so for me the added content is where the difference lies.
Of course the Android line up with the Nexus 7, Transformer TF300, Infinity, A700, Galaxy Tab etc combined with Google's store, containing a lot of content aside from apps, is very strong, but Apple's iTunes still provides a larger collection of media such as movies and TV shows, and has a deeper connection with movie studios by means of Digital Copies included with DVDs and Blurays.
But, similar as last year, Amazon is the winner for me here. Unlike Apple and Google (and even the Blackberry movie store) Amazon offers a subscription to a large amount of content. With its "Prime" service ($80/yr) Amazon instantly provides access to its Instant video catalog, which keeps getting more and more content. Earlier this week, they obtained a new deal which added popular series like Heroes and Battlestar Galactica, all free to watch.
The Hunger Games Mini Review
Last Saturday, the Hunger Games was released on DVD and Bluray. Of course I had to make sure both would work fine with DVD Catalyst 4, but I figured I'd give some thoughts about the movie itself as well.
Since we did watch the movie before, my wife didn't feel like watching it again, so I converted the Bluray and watched it on my Galaxy Note 10.1.
Lately I've been using the Blackberry Playbook at nights, so I was a bit spoiled with the screen, but it looked "ok" on the Note.
The movie itself is good, but with it being a book adaption, you can't help but compare it to the book. I enjoyed the book, but with the movie it just felt like it was missing something. I'm not sure if it was shot that way, or if it was caused by the editing process, but it seemed the movie was just a collection of scenes stitched together. At times where there was a flashback to remind the viewer on what happened earlier, it looked like they just copied and pasted that scene again, rather than making it a little different. Also the setup of the movie, until it got to the actual arena, seemed like parts were cut out, and unless you actually read the book, knowing why certain things happened were left in the dark. All in all, it felt like it was done on purpose, in order to leave room for an "Uncut" release that would actually contain the full experience.
I don't believe it was a bad movie, on the contrary, but it basically requires you to read the book to get the full experience.
The Expendables 2 Mini Review
For me, the biggest movie of the year, so of course I had to go see it. My wife had no interest, but (thanks hon) she did endure the movie with me. For me, having all my action favorites from my time in a single movie is like a dream come true.
Of course the movie has gotten mixed reviews. No story line, bad acting and whatever else, but who cares. A movie such as this doesn't need all that. Cheesy stuff like guns never running out of ammo, armies shooting at the main guys from all angles, and the main guys are left standing, thats what I grew up with, and that is what the Expendables movies bring back. Mindless, senseless action, just like the old days, and with guys that don't need to be mentioned with first names, like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Willis, Van Damme and Norris in the same movie, epic, no other word for it, just epic.
DVD Catalyst on Facebook:
Tools4Movies | Facebook
DVD Catalyst on Google+
Sign up to receive the DVD Catalyst Newsletter by email once a week (your email address will only be used for the newsletter. I don't sell/share information to others and I don't send out spam emails)
Newsletter | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Thank you for reading the newsletter. Have a great weekend, and see you next week,