DVD Catalyst Newsletter 66 - 08-03-12
Thank you for reading the 66th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
This week went by quick. I'm not sure what happened, but it just seems that I wrote last week's newsletter only a few days ago. I guess it's true. Time flies when you are having fun, even if it is something considered work.
Let me start with this week's Tech News:
This week turned into Nexus Q week.
If you have been following the newsletter, you might remember that based on the reviews, I was underwhelmed by its functionality, especially considering the $300 price on it, and because of this, I have tried to cancel my Nexus Q order for a while now.
The canceling process was never successful, basically requiring me to wait for it to be delivered and then refuse the package, but I guess I should be pleased with that, since Google decided to put the Nexus Q on hold, and ship the pre-orders for free, effectively making the so-called early adopters beta-testers for updates and feature additions that Google is planning to implement for it.
Mine came in yesterday, and while it is currently on hold in regards of sale, I will write a bit about my first experiences with it.
Total Recall 2012 comes out today. Movie studios seem to be out of ideas, aside from book-deals and video games, we are faced with a continuous stream of remake movies and reboot-franchises. After Spiderman, Batman and even Footloose, it is now time for Total Recall, a 1990 Schwarzenegger movie to get the remake treatment. I'm looking forward to what the 2012 treatment will do to this movie, however, I am split as to what I will find. Is it just a rehash of the same movie with updated special FX, is it a completely new story line with hints to the original?
And of course, with yet another remake, it makes you wonder what will be next. Will we see a remake of Top Gun, a reboot of The Terminator next?
A very rare Legend of Zelda Prototype cartridge was sold this week on eBay. $55.000 for a video game, cool and rare as it is, is a bit much for my taste. 2 years ago, a lady got the surprise of a lifetime after she placed a system on eBay with a few games when the price went up to $10.000+ just because of a rare game, but now, if you look on eBay, everything seems to be a RARE system, with people asking an arm and a leg for some not-so-rare items. Of course a prototype cartridge is a bit different, but still, I can think of plenty of other things to do with 55k.
Problem is, these auctions have an effect on how people think. A while ago, I was watching, I think it was, Auction Hunters on TV, and one of the guys was going overboard because he noticed a NES in the storage bin. With these crazy auctions on eBay, he was aiming high, but in the end, of course, it wasn't worth much at all ($15 and that was for some of its parts).
As promised, I've spent a considerable amount of time fighting with the email portion of the newsletter, and it appears to be working again.
Of course, aside from sending them out by email, I have also posted them on my website, so if you happen to have missed a bunch of them, and would like to read back the ones that were not sent out, please visit this link:
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Aside from working on the newsletter email issue, I've also been plugging away on other things. While I have not made much progress yet (as in something working) I have been trying out different development tools in order to create a multi-platform (Mac) version of DVD Catalyst. The development tool I have been using for development of DVD Catalyst since the beginning (2003) doesn't port over well to computers running something other than Windows, so a change is needed. This week, I have been playing a bit with the latest version of the same tool, which supposedly does work with Mac, however, the MacBook (2008) I have needs to be updated from Leopard (plain) to something newer, and I haven't gotten to that yet.
I'm hoping to get something done with that this weekend, so I can test out multi-platform coding with the new tool. Unfortunately most of these development tools cost a LOT of money, so I really want to make sure that I have something I can work with before I make the plunge.
I figured it was time again for a few streaming trailers, and since I don't recall releasing some really high quality ones, I used the HQXT settings, along with CRF set to 20 to produce the best possible results imaginable.
The first one contains trailers of Bourne Legacy, Expendables 2, Resident Evil, Step Up and Total Recall, and the second one, upon request, contains trailers for The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit and Oz.
The trailers are encoded using DVD Catalyst 4 v4.2.1 using different resolutions, including 720p and 1080p and provide a great way to show off what your tablet/phone is actually capable of in regards of video playback.
Earlier this week, I read an article on a tech-website I frequent that addressed the advantages of digital files over physical content carriers such as DVD and Bluray.
Regardless of my work with DVD Catalyst, I strongly disagree with the ideas of the writer.
The article describes services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix as a great replacement for DVDs and Blurays, taking into account the pricing and ease of access. It seems the article was written in some sort of a rush, in order to make a deadline, or provide some content to fill the site, because it failed to address things like availability on different devices, and even services like Amazon Prime, Vudu, Ultra Violet and even iTunes were left out.
While I can't argue the ease of access provided by browsing movies and shows on services that were mentioned in the article, and of course the price is right with those as well, he failed to address the important parts.
*Streaming videos from the cloud is handy, but in order to get Bluray quality, you will need an internet speed of at least 20MBps. While many cable services claim to offer such speeds and more, this number drops considerably when more people in the street are using the internet. Especially during off-school hours, cable-internet users are lucky if they are getting even 1/10th of that. Services like Netflix adjust the quality dynamically depending on the speed available, which results, during peak hours, in a poor less than DVD, quality on your HD TV.
And then I am not even counting the large amount of households that are barely getting 10MBps as an internet speed.
*Formats. Unlike DVD and Bluray, there is no specific format that ensures compatibility. Netflix and Hulu (as well as Amazon Video, iTunes etc) are proprietary services, and as a result, in order to be able to use these services, the device you want to use will need to be able to access them. Of course some devices have (some of) these services build-in, such as a Roku, a Smart TV or a Bluray player, and for popular tablets and phones, apps are available to enable support for them, but there is nothing out there that will work with them all.
*Lack of unity. Aside from different formats, each service has its own advantages and disadvantages. Deals are made to give one service access to some content and not to others (exclusives), some of them are faster than others with new content, and even a "unified" service such as Ultra Violet requires you to sign up with an account for each movie studio you obtain movies from, along with one central login that ties these services together.
*Expiration. If you use services like Netflix, you never know how long a movie will be available. Contracts change between content providers, and as a result, access to your favorite movies and shows could be removed at any time. Then, with so many different services, it is bound to happen that some of them will disappear. The movie studios still have not found a way to deal with the digital age, and as a result, they are trying a variety of different things. Offering movies through youtube, through Facebook, iTunes, Vudu, Ultra Violet, who knows which one will be in existence 1,2,5 or even 10 years from now?
Even the "Digital Copy" movies you purchase in combo packs (and considering that you pay extra for such a combo pack) have an expiration date set for them. After that, will they still be available for you to watch? It seems that even if you purchase your movies in digital form, it is basically an extension to the rental time period, rather than ensuring a permanent addition to your collection. With DVDs and Blurays, you have the physical content, and the movies and shows they contain will remain accessible for as long as you have them in your possession.
*Privacy. Even though you purchase these digital videos, in order to access them, you will need to setup an account with whatever service you use. Last week, I received an email from a company specializing in class-action-lawsuits, informing me about a case regarding Netflix supposedly selling viewing behavior of its customers to other companies. What happens with your personal information, as well as the videos you have in your collection from other services like Hulu+ and Ultra Violet? I'm quite sure that there are plenty of companies interested in collecting email addresses and other personal information such as gender and age, tied to spending habits and types of content they watch in order to spam with more targeted advertising. Even without connecting this type of information directly to a person, it is very valuable. For example, if you purchase movies (and other products) from Amazon, the next time you visit, Amazon will display similar items rather than a random selection of products, increasing its chances of you purchasing something you weren't actually looking for.
*Resale. Used DVDs and Blurays is a big market. There are a lot of companies relying on selling and purchasing used content. Also many people make use of their collection as collateral to come up with some quick money by means of pawnshops during times of need.
In the video game industry, both Microsoft and Sony are working on methods to eliminate the used-sales, and even with software, due to numerous activation systems, required registration, the ability to sell software after you no longer have a use for it is severely hampered.
To my knowledge, no-one has even attempted to sell their digital copys or Amazon/iTunes purchased digital video files, but I'm quite sure that that will not work.
So for me, I don't see a "Death of DVD" or a "Death of Bluray" coming anytime soon. Regardless of the outcome, I prefer to actually have a physical copy of the movies I purchase. No personal information being spread on the web, no expiration, no compatibility issues (ok, excluding Bluray-drive updates and Disney DVDs for arguments sake), and, no quality issues regarding internet bandwidth or even loss of internet all together. And, with physical discs, I know that, if I really have to, I can bag up a bunch of them and sell them without issues.
My collection of physical discs will continue to grow for as long as possible, and with pricing for digital versions being nearly the same as that of their physical counterparts, the only reason for me to go digital would be if I wanted to watch a particular movie or TV show right at this instant, and don't want to wait a day or 2 for shipping.
Google already realized that the Nexus Q is a bit limited in its current state, and as a result, decided to turn the people who pre-ordered it into betatesters for it by sending it out for free.
As mentioned mine came in yesterday (I guess I should be glad that Google doesn't have a proper pre-order-cancel system in place) and I've played a bit with it.
The device is pretty heavy, and feels well-constructed. It is a black ball with a diameter slightly smaller than a DVD. The top half acts as a volume controller, and that's basically it.
When I first got it out of the box, the MicroHDMI connection had me a bit worried, and I started thinking where I put mine (haven't used it for a few months) but thankfully, it actually shipped with it.
The setup was pretty easy, but you will need an Android device in order to be able to set it up. When you first turn it on, it will just sit there and blink a bit. After installing the Nexus Q app on my Nexus 7, I could connect to it using Bluetooth, and from there
I was prompted to enter the wifi code of my router so it could connect. That basically completed the setup.
Of course the first thing I tried was to play one of my own videos. The Nexus Q app added an additional button to Play Movies and the Play Music apps, but when I tried to play one of my own movies, it didn't go to the Nexus Q. When I tried playing the free Transformers movie that I got from Google with the Nexus 7, it did play on the TV through the Q.
Initially I thought it would play through the tablet, but it seems that the Nexus Q actually connects directly to the video in the cloud, rather than using your own device for it. Unfortunately, the quality of the actual video playback for the movie was "ok". For testing I used a higher-end Samsung LCD TV, and aside from some quality blemishes, I noticed some stutter here and there during camera panning (moving from one side to another side) scenes, which was a bit disappointing, when I play my own conversion of the same movie on the same TV, it looks considerably better and smooth.
With the Transformers movie playing, I turned off the Nexus 7, and it just continued to play the video. I did the same thing with some music that I uploaded to Google Music a while ago, which also continued to play (with some visualizations), even after I turned off the tablet, which is pretty cool.
But, that is basically all there is to it.
In its current state, I can see the Nexus Q being useful for music playback in a bar of some sort, enabling people to queue up their music on it like a jukebox, but with no options to adjust, it seems risky regarding what content is actually being played (an embarrassing MP3 recording of a friend's night out for example).
Of course one of the features I would love to see is the ability to have it play content I actually have on my device, similar as to an Apple TV, or redirecting an app such as Pandora to have it stream a channel from there, or being able to select songs to play on the Q from the Google Music web-interface, but I guess we'll have to wait a bit in order for Google to make it as great as it was hyped up to be.
But, aside from new features, Google will need to do something about the pricing though. Even with its production not being done in more labor-affordable countries, if it is to compete with the Apple TV, Roku and similar devices, the price of $300 is a bit too much. I can get a PS3 or XBOX360 for that, both of which offer more functionality.
How to put movies on the Asus Nexus 7 (avi dvd mkv iso etc):
How to put movies on the Apple iPad 3:
How to put movies on the Asus Transformer TF300:
How to put movies on the Samsung Galaxy S3:
How to convert your movies full-screen:
How to convert Bluray with DVD Catalyst 4:
And that is it for this week's newsletter. Next week, along with trying a few things with the new development tool, I'll be working on the website a bit more, in an attempt to get things more organized, and I have been drawing up some ideas for a new logo.
My graphic skills are not the greatest, but the design isn't too complicated, so hopefully I can pull it off :).
Anyway, thank you for reading the newsletter, and have a great weekend,