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All posts tagged "dvd"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DVD Streaming Service Goes Offline (At Least Temporarily)

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:30 AM

"Zediva, an innovative and unlicensed DVD streaming company that ran afoul of Hollywood, has shut the online doors to its private theater to comply with a federal court order."

Earlier this month the Zediva company closed (at least temporarily) its online operations. They had what I thought was quite a unique idea for, and implementation of, a streaming DVD service. Zediva thought it could circumvent licensing requirements by literally renting customers a DVD and a DVD player, with your computer, tablet or Google TV as the remote control. Were any of you using this service, and, if so, did it work well for you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Digital Convenience Price Threshold?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

In the tug of war between atoms and bits, how much does it take to sway you one way or another? Digital download or buying DVDs - which way do you roll? I bought the first episode of "Breaking Bad" on iTunes a few weeks ago, watched it yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since I don't currently have an active account (it's a DVD rental service) I'd be looking at buying Breaking Bad season one. How do the numbers work out? Read more...

Monday, November 1, 2010

DVD2Blu Version Two

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

Thinking about taking advantage of this one. Pretty much any DVD (other than adult titles) qualifies. So, it sound like you could go pick up a bunch of DVD's from the Dollar Store and net out getting a bunch of Blu-Ray discs for about $6 each. But, I'm betting a lot of these titles will probably have a regular price of $9.99 by the end of the year (some already do), so if you are only interested in one or two titles, it may not be worth the effort.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Pre-Ordered a Boxee Box: Have You?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

Last week, I placed a pre-order for a Boxee Box (you can too via this handy pre-order link!). Why? Well, I've been watching the network/local media player space evolve over the past few years, and I've yet to implement any of them. I've seen two basic types of devices:

  1. Devices that offer superior technical capabilities in terms of files (ISO rips, etc.) and formats supported (every video codec under the sun), but lack any semblance of true usability, often featuring awful user interface, painful performance, or both. I'd put most of the dedicated network media players in this camp; Popcorn Hour, efforts from Seagate, Western Digital, Asus, etc.
  2. Devices that offer superior user interface and usability, but lack broad technical abilities; they're often limited in terms of file types (no ISO support), codecs, and are very mainstream in their support of content. I'd put Windows Media Center, and anything based on that (Media Center Extenders), in this category along with the Xbox 360, Apple TV, etc.

I've wanted a device that does both, and it looks like the Boxee Box may be the closest I've come so far. I've messed around with several of these devices over the years; I even bought an Acer Aspire Revo and installed XBMC on it in the hopes that I'd finally be able to do what I wanted. It failed. Read more...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warner Offers to Swap Your DVDs to Blu-ray

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Upgrade your Warner Bros. DVD titles for new industry-leading Blu-ray discs and unleash the power of your HDTV through the DVD2Blu program. Blu-ray disks as low as $7.95 and free shipping on orders over $25."

I was pretty excited when I first saw this. But then I looked at the details. There are not a huge number of movies offered. Out of my collection, I only had 4 eligible movies (technically 7, but I'd already purchased the Blu-ray disk for the other 3). Of those, most were only a couple buck extra to just buy the Blu-ray directly from Amazon which, given the months I waited to get my disks shipped on the similar Red2Blu program, seems worth it since I'd get to keep the DVD's that way. The last movie, Superman Returns, is technically a good deal since it would cost $23.99 from Amazon, but I already regret purchasing that DVD, so no need to double down on the buyers remorse.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Corel's WinDVD Pro 2010 Reviewed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Here's the scenario: I have a computer in my office connected to a Dell 26" LCD TV, and I use it as my master media computer, including handling the task of recording standard-def TV shows. I often watch movies on it while I work on editing photos or videos. It doesn't have a Blu-ray player on it, but since I still have the dv2 on loan from HP I decided to connect the USB-based Blu-ray drive. It worked like a charm, but even with Windows 7 installed, I can't play Blu-ray discs without added software. I asked the nice folks at Corel to let me take WinDVD Pro 2010 for a spin. I tested this software on a machine with 4 GB of RAM, an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU at 2.4 Ghz, and an Nvidia 7950GT video card.

WinDVD Pro 2010 sells for a hefty $99 USD; it seems anything related to Blu-ray is expensive, from discs to players to software. It's likely in no small part to the royalties and codec licensing required to play that juicy 1080p video, but when entire computers cost $299, $99 seems a bit steep for software to play movies.

After downloading the 110 MB installer, I ran it and was surprised to see it had to install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package and Microsoft DirectX 2008 package. Really? A C++ package from 2005? On a Windows 7 computer? The EULA was a bit different than normal - the first paragraph was in bold text and it stated that the install was good for one copy on one computer only. That's not something I normally see, but given the expensive Blu-ray licensing fee involved, I can see why they do this. Next it asks for a region selection, and after the install is complete, it offers to be the default player not only for Blu-ray discs, but also for AVCHD and M2T/MTS files - and audio CDs as well. I said yes to the former, no the latter, and was then prompted to install the QuickTime player. It seems every MPEG4-based product out there leans on Quicktime in some way, which is frustrating if you don't want Quicktime installed on your computer. Read more...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Do the Movie Companies Toy With Us Like This?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:40 AM

That's what I see for choices when I look on, and this is something I've seen before: the studios release a Blu-ray version of the movie that has less features on it than the special edition DVD version - at least in Canada they do. In the example above, both movies are the Directors Cut, but the Blu-ray edition ($27.95 CAD) has no indication that it has the same bonus features as the special edition DVD ($33.99 CAD). The lower price of the Blu-ray version seems to back that up. Yet when I look on, the only Blu-ray version is the special edition, and it has all the bonus features listed. Curiously, it's the same price ($22.99) as the special edition DVD. What a headache - it looks like I'm going to have to wait for this to be in stores before I can figure it out.

Tags: dvd, blu-ray, watchman

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cringely's Thoughts on Blu-ray

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"There is growing sentiment in the industry that Blu-Ray, as it was originally intended, is a failure. How can that be? Wasn’t it just a year ago that Blu-Ray, with its greater data capacity, triumphed over the opposing HD-DVD standard? Well promises were made to achieve that victory and now it appears promises may have been broken. Understand that the success or failure of Blu-Ray has little to do with games and everything to do with movies. Two historical events informed the battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. First was the epic and costly 1980‘s competition between the BetaMax and VHS tape cassette standards. Second was the triumphant succession of DVD over VHS, when we all replaced our tape libraries with disks, gladly paying anew for what we already owned, buying every Hollywood exec a new Mercedes in the process."

Cringley argues that the reason Activision is putting pressure on Sony has more to do with a failure of Blu-ray than game sales. Although I was hoping HD-DVD would win, I think the perceived failure of Blu-ray is really a matter of falsely defining the definition of success. Expecting Blu-ray to replicate the success of DVD was not reasonable. Neither HD format offered the kind of upgrade that DVD offered over VHS. Plus, people have lots of DVD players, so unless they want to restrict their viewing to just one TV, they've got to replace all their players, which is not exactly cheap. One of the great features of HD-DVD was the combo disk, which eliminated this problem. Eventually, Blu-ray players will achieve penetration through a slow war of attrition as old DVD players get replace and Blu-ray players reach a price that DVD players will no longer be produced.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Content: Have You Double-dipped? Triple? More?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:00 AM

OK, I confess, as much as I hated having to do it, I have gone back and purchased multiple copies of the same content in different formats. Normally, I'm against this as a matter of principle since I figure I should not have to pay twice for the same content. Of course, the move to HD content changes that equation for me since just like the move from VHS to DVD, whether you like it or not, you are getting a higher quality level, which has value. For VHS, over time, I've replaced everything in my collection with DVD. For DVD, I'm being more selective since a) for a lot of content the difference from DVD to Blu-ray is negligible or unimportant and b) Blu-ray players are backwards compatible so I can still use my DVDs. But, there are always certain titles that I'll want the latest and greatest versions of.

Star Wars is an obvious example for me. I've bought it 4 times already and I'll be buying it a 5th when it eventually comes out on Blu-ray. Lord of the Rings is another example, I bought the regular and extended versions on DVD, but I'll only be picking up the extended versions on Blu-ray since I find the extended version massively superior to the theatrical release. Also, I'm a big Firefly fan, so I bought Serenity on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray. Interestingly, I don't plan on buying the Firefly series on Blu-ray. I rented it and found that due to the grainy style of the series, it did not benefit much from the Blu-ray transfer. So, what are your guilty pleasures that have caused you to double dip for the same content?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Maximum PC Shows You How To Create Your Own Video Library

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:30 AM

"Now, ripping DVDs is our great challenge. Copying and transcoding the disc’s video into more efficient formats involves math an order of magnitude scarier than what’s required to rip audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in mere moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of Alien vs. Predator to an iPod-friendly format. But with the right software, a quad-core-equipped PC, and a little know-how, you can cut your disc-rip time from hours to 30 minutes. Plenty of tricks and traps still await first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics and then walk you through some of the most valuable power-user ripping secrets."

I actually don't see ripping DVDs as a great challenge, but I have had the pleasure of going through lots of different programs over the years to back up my library. For those of you just getting into the whole process, either for backing up, or to create an instant access media library for your home theater, Maximum PC has put up a fairly good tutorial that will probably save you a lot of time and effort. It's quite thorough and even covers Blu-ray discs if you've got any. It even touches on how to stream your new library around the house. The only part I find lacking is that it doesn't provide you with any instructions on how to stream outside of your domicile. All I can add to that is to consider services like, which can take your media library and make it available to you anywhere so long as you have an internet connection.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

AutoBrake Speeds Up Backing Up DVDs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:30 AM

"Trying to rip DVDs to your home server consistently and without issue is not easy. After doing some research I came across a free application called HandBrake which is a fantastic video encoder and it just so happens that it can rip DVDs. However, HandBrake requires somebody to set it up each time you wish to rip a DVD. Obviously nobody is going to want to bother with that so I decided to write a small application which will do this automatically."

DVDs are a great media format. They can put up with a fair amount of abuse and pack away into a tiny little space. Still, they're not indestructable, so the need for backing up DVDs is important. Especially after you find your DVD player can't play half of your scratched DVDs. Handbrake is a program that lets you backup your DVDs onto your computer, and AutoBrake takes things a step further, automating much of the steps you need to take with HandBrake. Sure, it might only take a minute or two to do it yourself, but when you're ripping a couple dozen DVDs, you don't want to have to constantly come back to the computer for a couple minutes at a time. It's a small thing, but it really helps and frees you up on Backup Sunday.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is there a New Chinese Competitor to Blu-ray?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 PM

"Everyone assumed the high definition format war was over after movie studios abruptly bailed on the HD-DVD format seemingly over night, but could it be just beginning? China certainly hopes so, whose China Blue HD (CBHD) just received a shot in the arm from Warner Brother's announcement that it plans to support the format with several films in the first half of 2009."

To even have a chance this would have to be absurdly cheap. Cheap as in a $50 player and movies priced comparable to normal DVDs that were preferably dual disks like many HD-DVD's were. Even then, I'd say the chance of success is doubtful. More than likely, this is a play by Warner Brother's to get some kind of concession from the Blu-ray camp.

Tags: hardware, dvd, hd, blu-ray

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Are Blu-ray Sales Suffering?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 PM

"Blu-ray U.S. disc sales have tripled in the past year, according to The Digital Entertainment Group, but there's a slight problem--Blu-ray sales are still lower than where film studios would like them to be, and there's no indication that Blu-ray sales will top DVD sales anytime soon. The studios blame Blu-ray's performance on the economy, and claim that if we were enjoying better economic times, the format's sales would be higher. But there's one person, Bill Mechanic, a film producer and former Fox Filmed Entertainment chief, who believes there's more to this story."

It seems as if HD-DVD isn't Blu-ray's greatest challenge. The venerable DVD is still putting up a fight against Sony's fledgling format. While Blu-ray has been around for years now, its sales are not meeting expectations. I have to agree with Bill Mechanic's idea that DVDs are hurting Blu-ray sales more than the economy. While Blu-ray definately provides more features and a sharp HDTV signal, it seems that most people aren't willing to pay a high premium for the extra content and clarity. Having an HDTV myself, I can certainly appreciate 720p and 1080p video, but DVDs fit in that category of "good enough" for me to watch most things. In fact, when shopping, I find myself thinking that Blu-ray is only worth it for certain videos, like documentaries, or movies that provide a lot of visuals. The rest, I look for in the bargain DVD bin! Am I the only one here? Is everyone else busy replacing their DVD collection with Blu-ray discs?

Tags: dvd, blu-ray

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Want to Backup Your DVD and Blu-ray Discs? Check Out AnyDVD!

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Software" @ 12:30 PM

"Film studios that have switched to Blu-ray may have crowed a little too early because the much-praised BD+ copy protection is an ad absurdum affair now, too. With today's release of version of AnyDVD HD it is now also possible to make backup security copies of Blu-ray discs protected with BD+. Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group will have to revise his statement from July, 2007 regarding BD+: "BD+, unlike AACS which suffered a partial hack last year, won't likely be breached for 10 years". It is worth mentioning that since he made that statement only eight months have gone by."

If you're looking for a way to backup your DVD and Blu-ray Discs, AnyDVD may be the software you need. It runs in the background on your PC, and when inserting a DVD or Blu-ray disc, it automagically removes the copy protection, which then allows you to use a DVD backup tool to make a copy of your disc. Now through March 30th, when you purchase directly from Slysoft [Affiliate] and use the coupon code "easter" you can receive 20% off AnyDVD (and any other SlySoft product)!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Announcing Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM

"The DVD playback picture just got much clearer with the introduction of WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray. Video lovers can stop worrying about formats thanks to the newest release of the world's number one DVD and video playback software. With the inclusion of All2HD -- the most advanced upscaling technology available -- standard-definition videos and DVDs play back at near-HD quality. For users who desire the ultimate experience, WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray can play back HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies with the latest features and tools including BonusView (picture-in-picture), Advanced Navigation and HD audio from Dolby and DTS, as well as support for AVCHD and H.264 formats. Either way, WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray provides a superior video playback experience."

WinDVD has added the ability to playback Blu-ray and HD DVD video on your PC (as long as you have the required hardware/software components). Conveniently, Corel offers a useful downloadable tool that examines your system and will tell you if any components aren't up to par for Blu-ray/HD DVD playback. WinDVD also includes a proprietary technology called "All2HD" which claims to upscale standard and DVD video to near HD quality (I'll have to see it to believe it!). I just have a plain old DVD drive in my PC, but how many of you have a Blu-ray/HD DVD player in your PC?

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