Tag Archives: dvd

Is Netflix Worth It Anymore?

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from damn near day one.

I’ve certainly appreciated having the service there as an entertainment alternative long before video streaming was a remote possibility. I’d have three DVDs out at a time and often forget I was holding onto them for months on end. You could say that I’ve wasted a lot of money on Netflix – far more than I would have spent at a local video rental store.

So, last year, I decided to drop the 3-disc option and go with the 1-disc plan plus the on-demand streaming – even though the streaming selection was seemingly stunted (though nowhere as bad as Hulu’s lackluster movie library). For the most part, that’s worked out well – but I still feel like I’m overpaying for media that I’m not remembering to digest.

This morning, news came down the pike (yes, pike – not pipe) that Netflix is staging new subscription plans for us. Yippee? Nope.

There are now 2 DVD-Only plans:

  • $8 a month for one disc at a time
  • $12 a month for two discs at a time

Now there’s a separate option:

  • Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $8 a month

They think that this change “is a terrific value.” I think it’s a load of shit. This is “forcing” me to drop their disc-only plan altogether (based on my patterns). When I want to rent a DVD, I’ll simply make an online reservation for my local Redbox station. I’d be tempted to drop the Netflix streaming plan if there were a viable alternative elsewhere – but judging by how many documentaries my girlfriend loves to watch, that’s not practical.

I guess at the end of the day, I’m going to be spending less money with Netflix (by $2). Thanks?

Useless Technology

Raise your hand if you actually still have a land-line in your home – and use it. I have a feeling not many hands will be up in the air. Many people simply don’t see the need to pay for this type of service when they already shell out money for their cellular device every month. We need our cell phones, right? However, if we have those, do we really need a land line as well? The answer – for millions of users – is a big fat NO.

This makes me wonder what other types of technologies are considered outdated or useless. Things such as CDs are obsolete in large part these days. They aren’t gone, no. But they certainly don’t sell the way they used to. With services to listen to and download your favorite music out there, who wants to go buy a disc that you aren’t supposed to rip onto your devices? I’m pretty sure almost no one does, which is why record companies keep screaming about their bottom line.

Head to any electronics department, and you’ll find a number of VCRs for sale. Who the hell uses one of those anymore? If you still have old VHS tapes lying around, you’ve likely converted them into digital media to use on your computer or other (newer) devices. We want to save those memories, right? Those little tapes don’t last forever, and they just don’t play well, anyway.

Another piece of “obsolete” tech I see everywhere are fax machines. Can anyone tell me who still USES those things? I wish they would die a terrible death in a fire or something. There is actually one of these devices in my home. I can’t tell you when the last time was that I used it, though. These days, I scan documents into the computer and transmit them via email. Remember, no one has land lines so how the heck are they going to receive a fax?

What other types of technologies currently being sold make you scratch your head and wonder why anyone bothers? What is obsolete in your mind?

It’s a Wonderful Life


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Have you ever actually watched the entire movie? I did – once. It is a wonderful life, but it would be so much more wonderful if they updated the movie with 3D effects and Dolby Surround Sound.

JibJab is so much fun! You really should try it yourself sometime!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Free Studio Pack


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Marques has contributed a few screencasts to our community in the past few weeks – and has done an excellent job. This week, he’s demonstrating for us a software bundle full of useful tools… all at no cost. With these tools, you’ll be able to do numerous things with video, audio and even YouTube!

The first thing you’ll need to do is head over to the DVDVideoSoft website. Once there, you’ll see a listing of all of the available software titles that they have – for free! You can, of course, pick and choose amongst them based on your particular needs. For the purposes of this screencast, Marques has downloaded the full studio suite, which is found on the right side of the page.

The suite includes ALL of the software you see listed on the page. As soon as you run it for the first time, you’re going to see a beautiful opening screen. This lumps the things you can do into four categories, to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. There’s “Internet”, where you can manage your video downloads and uploads. Then we have “DVD and Video”, where you can do things like edit video and convert to other formats. Next you’ll see “MP3 and Audio”, which allows you to edit, convert, rip and burn your audio files. Lastly, you’ll find the “CD / DVD / BD” category, which helps you to burn or rip your media.

This software bundle comes loaded with several powerful tools, all of which will make your life easier. How cool is it that you don’t need twelve programs to do all of this? You only need to download the free suite from the folks at DVDVideoSoft, and let it do the work for you.

Thanks, Marques, for another great tutorial screencast!

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PlayPlay

Where to Get Blu-ray DVD Movies for Cheap

The Amazon Movies & TV Team is offering several special sales in the month of March. First is a Blu-ray sale with over 300 Blu-ray as Low as $13.99 while supplies last. This is a great opportunity for you to build your Blu-ray library from their selection of titles – including Iron Man, Transformers and Wall-E.

Next is a chance for you to save up to $60 off James Bond on Blu-ray while supplies last.
Finally, they have their Big DVD Sale with hundreds of DVDs as Low as $6.49 while supplies last.

There are further pre-order bargains on Quantum of Solace [Blu-ray], Slumdog Millionaire [Blu-ray] and Bolt [Blu-ray]. Also explore Amazon’s huge selection of over 1,500 Blu-ray titles, with everyday savings up to 40%.

Now all I need is a Blu-ray player!

Are You Still Using a VCR for VHS Tapes?

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So what do all the cool kids want for Christmas this year? They want a VCR, of course! It’s such a hot product, since it’s been running for awhile. A VCR can play VHS tapes, you know! Thank goodness I finally have a VCR of my own! I have here the new Ion USB VCR from the folks at ThinkGeek!

EZ VHS Converter software lets you burn your videos to DVD, watch on your PSP, iPod or laptop computer. Exported MPEG4 video is compatible with select mobile phones and portable multimedia devices. Connect your VHS, VHS-C, or 8MM camcorder to the front panel jacks to backup your camcorder videos. When you’re finished archiving your videos to your computer, VCR 2 PC is the perfect VHS player for any room in the house. Some of the main features include:

  • Connects to Windows XP and Vista machines via USB 2.0 port.
  • Capture video at resolutions up to 720 x 480 (NTSC) or 720 x 576 (PAL).
  • Sends video uncompressed over the USB cable.
  • Burn Video to DVD Export video to iPod or PSP format.
  • Plug and play USB computer connection Standard RCA and composite outputs for connection to any TV or home theater system.
  • Standard RCA inputs for connecting video cameras.
  • Auto-tracking, variable speed slow motion, playback, and rewind.
  • Soft-touch, backlit buttons.

The Ion VCR is an excellent device. How else can you turn any of your old VHS movies into something you can watch on today’s technology? It’s so easy to use! If you’re planning to get a VCR anyway, make sure you pick this up to turn your VHS tapes into something more useful.

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What was the First / Last Movie you saw in a Theater?

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What was the first movie you ever saw in a movie theater? For me, I remember watching The Rescuers at a drive-in when I was a kid. I’ve been going to movie theaters all my life, even still today. Even though I have excellent home equipment to watch from the comfort of my couch, there’s still a place for the movie theater. There needs to be some changes, yes. And the cost? Don’t get me started there.


I talked to my chat room, and asked them what their thoughts are as to what movie theaters need to be like for the future. Here is what they came up with:

  • Free food! We know that’s how they make their money, but maybe they can come up with other ways to make money. I mean seriously. Bring on the popcorn dripping butter! Why not trying free popcorn or soda night?
  • Discount licensing. Imagine if you went to a movie and you take your stub… and use it to buy that DVD, or be able to download it. Your ticket would entitle to you to a discount.
  • Aroma and audience ambiance That would likely get me to go to the theater for that kind of experience.
  • Force-feedback seats. How cool would that be? The only feedback I get on my seat is when I move it around. Bringing the movie off the screen and into the audience is something that would be really cool.
  • Interaction! Let the audience choose their own ending. The audience could create a noise level or push a button to choose how they would like to see the movie end.





Excellent Movie-Related Deals!

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Roxio Toast 9: Burn, Watch, Listen, Share

Whether you’ve never used Toast in the past, or looking for more features than previous versions… you’ll be happy to read all about Roxio Toast 9, which is being released later today. I have always been a fan of this software. After reading through all of the new things they’ve incorporated, as well as the improvements, I’ll definitely be upgrading soon. Toast 9 sets the standard, again – now by extending the hi-def burning options to HD DVD and Blu-ray media. Whatever your projects involve… data, music, photo or video… you’ll finish more quickly and reliably thanks to the new Toast 9.

Get the most from your digital media and Mac OS X, with Toast 9. Extending your options to Blu-ray and HD DVD media, it sets the standard yet again for burning on the Mac and includes a host of new features. Compress, copy and convert video to watch on popular mobile devices. Trim unwanted segments. Capture streaming audio from any source, even automatically add title, artist and other tags – then enjoy it on your iPod. Burn or play your favorite TV shows on your iPhone or PSP. It’s everything you need to Toast your digital life!

“What’s New” in Toast 9

  • Batch DVD-Video saves you time, by letting you use multiple DVD-Video folders for a Fit-to-DVD compression or conversion.
  • Video cropping and trimming features let you easily remove unwanted video segments before you burn your disc, or move to your portable player.
  • Create High Definition Blu-Ray, HD DVD or standard DVD discs of your HD camcorder footage, slide shows or other HD video content.
  • Watch your recorded TiVo or EyeTV shows via the Internet, or stream video from your Mac to your iPhone or Internet-connected PC or Mac!
  • Unique audio fingerprinting technology identifies untagged music files and adds name, artist, album and other file information. No more “Track 01″!
  • Capture streaming audio from ANY source, including the Internet, to build a library of audio tracks.
  • Preview video quality for selected encoding settings in seconds
  • Pause video conversions to regain control of your Mac and resume when convenient
  • Preserve DVD chapters in video converted for your iPod – no need to rewind or fast forward

What’s “Improved” in Toast 9

  • You can now burn up to 30 GB on a single HD DVD disc, or up to 50 GB on a single Blu-Ray Disc. Archive up to 12,500 songs, 50,000 pictures, or many hours of video.
  • Span files of any size across multiple discs… including HD DVD. Then, restore and read them on either a Mac or PC.
  • Automatically catalog and track the contents of your discs. You can easily locate any file on any disc… even when they aren’t in the drive.
  • File recovery for damaged discs
  • New menu styles and custom DVD menu backgrounds
  • Broad device support includes video conversion for Xbox 360, BlackBerry devices, and more
  • Dynamic DJ-style crossfades, transitions, audio processing, and Roxio Jam pro-quality mastering tools
  • Vinyl LP and tape conversion to CD, DVD, iPod and more
  • Create 100% full quality photo archive discs with slideshows that play automatically on a Mac or PC
  • Quickly create personalized disc labels for printing or LightScribe laser etching

With so many new and improved features… what are you waiting for?

Are You Ready for Blu-Ray DVD?

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Now that the Format War is over (for now at least), I realize I will have to buy myself a Blu-Ray drive one of these days. When I do buy one, it will be an external USB drive, so I can take it with me from one machine to another in my house. I’m not in a rush, however. One of our Community members sent in the following top five list, of reasons to not rush out to buy a Blu-Ray drive.

  • The best Blu-Ray player currently on the market is a game console. I am not criticizing the PS3s video capabilities. It has been said by many that it’s one of the best Blu-Ray players out there. I just feel like there is something wrong with this picture. I mean, you are going to create a new video format and the best player for that format is a device that was not even designed with video playback as its primary function? Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea that consoles are more than just gaming machines. Something just feels wrong about it being the BEST Blu-Ray player. I don’t know why I feel that way, I just do. Plus… I would rather have a dedicated player.
  • Video availability. This will probably become less of an issue in the coming months now that HD-DVD is dead. I understand that there are great movies out there for the Blu-Ray… however they are not numerous enough yet to warrant the investment.
  • Evolving standard. This is where I will contradict myself a little. If you must purchase a Blu-Ray player today, PLEASE get the PS3. I say this because almost all the current Blu-R,ay players are somewhat obsolete. The great majority of players out there are v.1.0, while the newer players are v. 1.1. Later this year Sony will introduce v. 2.0 for their Blu-Ray players. I may be wrong about this, but while most players will allow you to upgrade the firmware… none are wi-fi capable. The ps3 is already wi-fi capable (so there is no need to route a broadband wire) and Sony has been excellent when it comes to expanding the capabilities of the PS3.
  • Price. I am not willing to pay the current prices for a Blu-Ray player. When it comes down to about $200 or so, I will entertain the thought. For now, I will assume a wait and see position.
  • DVD. I just can’t find a compelling reason to let go of my dvd player. Yes, I know Blu-Ray looks better, but is it honestly that much better? DVD had a clear advantage over VHS, but can the same be said for Blu-Ray over DVD? I also don’t feel like it has a “killer app” or a must-have feature. Some people used the lack of WOW feature as their main reason not to move to Vista… and I honestly believe the same could be said about the Blu-Ray format.

After this was posted, I received the following email and wanted to share it in this post.

You said to chime in as to why we chose one format over the other, and here is my 2 cents. I myself chose Blu-Ray because I am a big fan of Sonys game consoles (yes, a playstation man thru and thru). From a gamers stand point, being able to put much more information per disc, was going to allow Sony (at least in my mind) to smoke the competition with the potential of their gaming consoles graphics and gameplay. I don’t have an HDTV (trust me, i’m workin on it) so HD movies didn’t tickle my fancy. I stayed away from the movie player scene. This is probably the most basic answer you’d hear for people who are pro Blu-Ray, but I figured I might as well tune in. Oh, and as a side note, the potential for Blu-Ray far exceeds the gaming and movie scene. The potential for just storage or large amounts of information as a hard copy backup for corporations or just the general users… Blu-Ray can be written in quad layers for 100gigs of information.

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Xbox DVD

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I have 4 Xbox 360s, for the simple reason that I can share media throughout the house, or be able to play games wherever I am. I was lucky to win these a few years ago. I received an email from someone saying that they are considering selling their Xbox 360 to buy a PS3. What?!

The email was very thought-provoking. The writer states that he is thinking of switching because Blu-Ray is the winner in the format war. He has a feeling that a larger effort will go into raising PS3s power in the console world. Also, of course, we have the Virtual World coming this Spring. PlayStation Home is a virtual community of PS3 owners living together in both public and private environments. Users will be able to login, chat with both text and speech and play casual games together such as pool, bowling and even embedded arcade machines. And when the old stand-bys grow stale, users can invite one another into other PlayStation Network titles outside of PlayStation Home. Every user will have their own virtual apartment to decorate with furniture, their trophies from various games and content from their own PS3s.

The writer ends the email by asking me which console has the brighter future.

If you already have a handful of Xbox 360 games, why would you sell the console because another player already has a Blu-Ray drive? What’s going to stop Microsoft from developing a Blu-Ray USB drive? Nothing… that’s what. Just because there will be no new content on HD-DVD… doesn’t mean it’s completely dead and unusable. My prediction is that Microsoft will indeed come out with a Blu-Ray USB drive very soon, to bring the Xbox up to speed with the PS3 in that regard. Don’t sell your console just because of this. This has literally only come down the past few weeks. Give Microsoft a chance to develop something for the Xbox.

If you LIKE the PS3, and its options, better than the Xbox… then good on you. Buy the PS3 console. But why would you go to all that trouble just for new physical media? Trust me when I say Microsoft and other companies WILL catch up to the Blu-Ray craze. Don’t count them out yet.

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