Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 76.
Aside from a minor update for DVD Catalyst 4 (mainly NOOK HD profiles), again most of my time this week was spent on MovieGallery and trying to find a way to get Christmas lights in a big tree.
Again, not much this week.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini popped up on a couple of websites, and while it resembles the S3 in a couple of ways, the specs seem to point more towards the S2 than the S3.
Also some people started getting their iPod Touch 5 in the mail. When it was announced, I wasn't too impressed, and didn't pre-order it. I'm still not sure about if I am getting one or not. I have the 1st, 3rd and 4th generation iPod Touch models, and honestly, aside from the slightly higher resolution, I don't see much use for upgrading from the iPod Touch 4 to the new one.
Google seems to be pulling the 16GB Nexus 7 and replacing it with a 32GB model. One of my biggest gripes of the Nexus 7 (and the Kindle Fire HD) is the lack of memory expansion, and while I did get the 16GB version of the Nexus 7, it just needs more in order to qualify as a media device for me. 32GB will make a big difference, but if Barnes and Noble does it right with its new services, it might still be able to take a chunk of sales from Amazon and Google, thanks to its memory-card slot.
An interesting story on Slashdot yesterday about The US Navy funding a "MacGuyver Bot" project. The name is fitting for its intended goal, a robot that should be capable of using nearby objects to overcome certain obstacles or save lives. A very interesting concept, and I hope that it will succeed, but I can't help but wonder how much duct tape will be used during development.
DVD Catalyst News:
Earlier this week I released an update for DVD Catalyst 4. Mainly to include profiles for the new NOOK models, the NOOK HD and the NOOK HD+, but aside from that, I made some small tweaks here and there and made a few changes to the file-naming.
I have had a few people contact me in regards of conversion issues, who were using characters in the file that are not actually supported to be used in file-names. I thought I had all of them covered before, but somehow I missed a few.
Most of my time (again) was spent on MovieGallery development. With the changes I did since the original release, some people started experiencing some performance issues, so I'm actually rewriting the majority of the code, while adding new functionality as well. My main goal is to make it, obviously, run more smoothly, but also to make it even easier to use.
Based on the reviews on App Stores like B&N, Amazon and Google Play, I'm not sure if I will re-implement the fail-safe trailer display. Quite a few people don't seem to bother to read the actual product description, and then complaint about MovieGallery just "displaying trailers" because of it, so I'm not sure if I should or not.
For the most part, the new MovieGallery is functional, but I still have to re-implement the settings, some graphical tweaks and a few other things, but it is coming along nicely. I don't have an idea of a release date yet, but it shouldn't be too long.
With the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire starting to gain ground in Europe, I have been getting quite a few emails with questions, so to make things a bit easier, first a few links to video guides:
How to convert and transfer movies to the Google Nexus 7:
Ultimate Nexus 7 Video How To Guide | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
How to convert and transfer movies to the Amazon Kindle Fire:
Ultimate Kindle Fire Video How To Guide | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Of course, with the release of DVD Catalyst 4 v126.96.36.199, I posted up the release notes:
DVD Catalyst 4 v188.8.131.52 Release Notes | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Last week I also had someone ask about complications with "Meet the Robinsons", so I ordered it, and ran it through its paces:
Meet the Robinsons | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
And, with Prometheus being released this week, I wanted to make sure it would work fine, so I converted the movie with DVD Catalyst 4:
DVD to NOOK HD - Prometheus 2012 DVD | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Q: When I play video on the Nexus 7, it doesn't fill the screen. The video stays small. (a repeat from 2 weeks ago, but I've been getting quite a few questions about this the last week)
A: By default, the Google Nexus 7 is locked in “portrait” mode. I have no idea why, but it is.
To unlock the screen rotation on the Nexus 7, drag the top menu-bar (where the clock and wifi signal are displayed) down, and tap on the little lock icon with the arrows around it. The lock should change to a rectangle. After this, the screen rotation will be unlocked, and turning your Nexus 7 will turn the video as well.
Q: Upscaling video, or convert DVDs to 1080p HD.
A: While I do get this question fairly often, this is more of a response of an advertising post of one of my competitors on a forum I visit.
The post, as usual, was mainly written with "key-words" popular video-related keywords in order to make it more likely for Google searches to find it. That by itself is nothing new, however, this particular post was about converting DVD's to 1080p for a particular device, so I figured I'd write something about that.
There is a reason why Bluray movies are 35GB in size. Because of the higher resolution of a Bluray movie, 1080p (1920x1080) more "pixels" are displayed on-screen, and each pixel uses some data in order to determine its color. DVD movies, usually 4-8GB in size, have a lower resolution, 480p (720x480), and as a result don't need as much data.
Most conversion tools just blindly use the selected settings for the conversion process. If you tell it to convert a DVD to 1080p resolution, it will just do that, without actually taking into account what it is doing. What happens with this is that the lower resolution video gets converted to the higher resolution (obviously), but in order to do so, pixels just get increased in size, the same way as if you zoom in on a picture. The DVD doesn't have the actual HD video, so it will use what is there to make it HD.
For a DVD to go from 720x480 to 1920x1080, each pixel gets increased about 2.5x in height (480 > 1080) and also about 2.5x in width (720 > 1920), so roughly each pixel becomes 6 pixels (2.5x2.5). Because each pixel needs some data to store its color and intensity, the file will end up 6x as large in order to store all this data, meaning if your DVD would look good when you convert it at its original resolution to 1GB, to have the same movie converted to a 1080p resolution, you would need about 6GB for the same file.
The stupidity of this is that if you play a lower resolution video on a device such as a tablet or iPad, the video player will scale it to fit on-screen. So, even if you have a lower-resolution video, it will actually look the same as if you would convert this to a higher resolution video, because the video player does the same type of scaling as a conversion tool would do. The only difference is that the lower resolution video file is a lot smaller in file-size.
This is where DVD Catalyst works a bit different. It actually does take the resolution into account.
You can of course tell it to upscale the video to a higher resolution, but by default, it actually looks at the selected screen resolution and the resolution of the video, and only when needed it will scale the video.
As a result, it is able to convert your movies at a better quality and a smaller file-size.
For more information, please have a look here:
DVD Catalyst 4.1 User Guide
Q: Future-proof video files.
A: Quite often, people ask me about video files for archiving purposes so that they can use the videos with a HTPC, a NAS, as well as with future devices.
Currently the most widely supported video format is H264 MP4/M4V. With companies like Apple and Google providing their purchased movies in that format, it is unlikely that that changes anytime soon, so in order to backup your DVD collection to a format that can be used now as well as a couple of years from now, I suggest to use one of the MP4 formats in DVD Catalyst 4, in particular one of the HQXT profiles, If you take one of those, for example the Google > Nexus 7 HQXT profile, the profile has a resolution set that is higher than DVDs, so you don't actually lose any in terms of resolution. If you want great quality, enable "Power User" and after selecting the profile, tap on Modify, and change the CRF setting to 20. Video will look pretty much identical to your original DVD, and the files will play on almost everything currently on the market, including Apple and Android phones and tablets.
Diamond Multimedia Support.
I got a response !
6 weeks (!) after I filed an online support claim regarding an HDMI recording device, I finally got a response. Useless as what it was, they did respond, finally.
In my original claim, I mentioned I tried it with 2 computers, and a collection of different devices, but unfortunately none of that was actually reflected in the response I got. It seemed more like a brush-off copy & paste than anything else;
" I apologize for the delay in response. Regarding your issues, have you tried connecting just your source to our device, and then connect from our device to your computer, for capture to see if you get the same problem? Have you tried using our device on another computer to see if you get the same problem? If you get the same problem, then have you tried to have the device replaced as the issue may be with our unit having a hardware malfunction."
After receiving the notification about the post, I went to the support call on their support page to repeat part of my response, hoping I would get a response back in a reasonable amount of time, but nothing in return as of yet.
Is the Motorola Xoom still relevant?
I believe so. In fact, I believe, after more than a year and a half, it is still one of the better tablets out there. It had some issues when it was first released, non functional SD, performance issues etc, but even though I do have newer and more powerful tablets such as the Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Nexus 7, it still does great at what it was designed for. Sure, it might not do awesome with the newest 3D games, but for everything else, it does what it needs to do, and the battery-life is still outstanding.
One of the best things about the Xoom is its reliability. For the last couple of months, I have been putting a lot of time in Android development, and while I do test on all the devices I have, the Xoom is my favorite. With the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and even my Galaxy Nexus, I continuously run into connectivity issues during development testing, but the Xoom continues to work, no matter how badly I abuse it.
If you are in the market for a good, affordable Android tablet, the Xoom will not disappoint, and while Apple holds on to something like a 2 year policy for product support, thanks to the modding community, the Xoom will continue to improve even after Motorola decides to stop.
Back when it came out (I have the 3G model) I paid $800 for mine, but now, with some digging and luck, you can pick up a refurbished WiFi Xoom for about $230 or so.
Arrow TV Series:
Not something I usually do, but this week, I watched the premiere of Arrow, a new TV series (Arrow Video - Pilot | Watch Online Free ).
Normally, when I watch a TV show, I tend to hold off until a few episodes build up (I also started watching Homeland this week, which just started its 3rd season), but after seeing some previews, I decided to watch it.
The show seems to pull some of its core elements from Batman, with the main character playing a rich and self-centered guy with a hidden identity under the skin that tries to right the wrongs in the city.
The show itself is actually pretty good. As many of you know, I am somewhat stuck in the 80's when it comes to action movies and TV shows, and this fits in quite nicely. I'm looking forward to the next episode, but unfortunately, it is the waiting that I never like.
Christmas lights in a big tree.
What should have been fairly easy has turned out in a major nuisance. Before we are starting to put up our Halloween decorations in the yard, I want to put Christmas lights in the big tree we have in our yard. It sounds strange, but when the decorations go up, it will be hard to get to the tree, and I am afraid that after Halloween, the weather will be too bad to put them in, so I want to do it sooner, rather than later.
The problem I'm running into is that the tree is about 35 feet tall.
A few weeks ago, I started with rope-lights, but after 10 strings tied together, I managed to go around the tree twice, so that wasn't working. Using some of the X-Mas lights from last year, I found that using net-lights would work better, but with the 4 I had only covering a very small portion of the tree, I had to get more. I found a deal on the web for net-lights, and with some calculations and measuring came up with a number of the ones I needed and ordered them, but now the task is how to get them up that high. Initially I figured a tree-trimming stick, one of those telescoping ones, would be great for it, but that only got up about 20 feet, so I still have another half of the tree to go. A step ladder gives me a bit extra, but not enough to be able to safely put them up. Part of the problem there is that the tree doesn't have much strength and fill beyond the outer layer, so leaning a ladder against it will likely result in broken branches and broken limbs on my part.
I've been trying to get a hold of some companies in my area whom might have a bucket-truck in order to assist me with hanging the lights, but haven't been able to get a hold of someone just yet. I'm hoping somewhere this week I can get it done before snow starts hitting us.
Tips & Tricks:
Playback volume, when it comes to watching your own movies on a tablet/smartphone is a bit of a big deal.
While many conversion tools are capable of boosting the volume a bit during conversion to take care of this, the volume setting needs to be determined on a per-video basis. DVDs need a larger increase, DIVX files only a little, TV recordings usually nothing, so for each conversion you do, you will need to adjust the volume manually before you start the conversion. If you forget this, or set the volume too high, you end up with distorted sound, or whenever you watch something on your device, you will have to adjust the volume.
DVD Catalyst 4 uses a technology we call “Volume Maximizer“, a feature that automatically kicks in on all your conversions, and is not found in any other application on the market.
You never have to change the audio volume of your conversions. Every conversion you do with DVD Catalyst 4 will be as loud as possible without causing distortion, and regardless of the volume of the original video or DVD, all of your created files will end up with the same loudness, so you don’t have to adjust the volume on your playback device or audio system whenever you watch something else.
For more information about how it works, have a look here:
DVD Catalyst - Volume Maximizer
AVI MKV ISO Playback. All over the internet, on websites as well as loads of questions on forums, people ask about playback of internet-obtained video files. File-types such as AVI, MKV and even ISO files.
For many devices, there are players available in their app-stores, however, depending on the files, it is a bit of a hit and miss in order to get these files to play, and even then, it takes some time of fiddling in order to get them to play without stuttering or without audio sync issues.
In most cases, the people asking about playing such files mention that they do not want to convert the movies, mainly because converting their collection using most conversion tools is a long, painful and mostly manual (per file) process.
But, if you use your tablet/smartphone a lot for video playback on the go, having your video files in a properly supported video format will make your viewing experience a lot more enjoyable. No need to fiddle with different settings for each movie you are trying to watch, and, more importantly, if your videos are in a supported video format, you can get the best possible quality for your videos.
If you have a large collection of video files, either all the same, or lots of different types and sizes, it doesn't get easier to convert them if you use DVD Catalyst 4. No need to set up a conversion manually for each individual file you want to convert, just start DVD Catalyst, drag your files, or folders containing files, over onto the program, and with one click, DVD Catalyst will convert them all. Just select the device profile you want to use for playback, and be it just 1 file, 10 files or 1000's of video files, a simple drag & drop and a click, the conversion process will automatically run a batch conversion on all your videos.
Use this together with one of the auto-adjusting HQXT profiles for your device, and video playback issues will be an issue of the past.
For more information on how this works, have a look here:
DVD Catalyst - Batch Convert
With winter around the corner, this upcoming week, aside from MovieGallery development, will be filled with outside preparations.
Tomorrow I'll be helping my father-in-law with putting plastic around his screened-in porch, and of course I need to check the exposed parts of the waterlines underneath our place to make sure it is all still insulated, checking heating tape, close off the tap outside, clean out the heater and whatever else comes up. Doing these kinds of things never was my strong point, but it needs to be done, and unfortunately, I'm the one who has to do it.
Those things, the lights in the tree, and maybe the Halloween decorations if I can get the tree done.
Anyway, thank you for reading, and have a great weekend,
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 converts your movie and TV show collection (DVD, AVI, MKV, ISO etc) to great quality video files that are perfectly optimized to play on portable devices.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including Apple's full iPad/iPod and iPhone product line, Amazon Kindle Fire (all models), Asus Transformer (original, Prime, Infinity etc), all Samsung's Galaxy models, including the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Xperia, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom and much more.
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