Tag Archives: dvd

Why I’ll hold off with Windows 8; Windows 8 won’t have Media Center or DVD playback built in

Quick note: Really sorry I haven’t blogged for a while – been busy with other things! Will try and keep a vague schedule for posts going.

I read in the news recently that Microsoft are stripping back some of the built in features that will be included in Windows 8. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s new flagship operating system that is expected to reach computer screens in the last quarter of 2012.

Two things came to my attention as I read these two (one & two) blog posts by Microsoft.

  • First of all, Windows Media Center is going to be an extra add-on to Windows 8. This means, unlike Windows 7, you’ll have to pay for it on top of the price of the core OS if you want – no matter whether you have the home or pro version of Windows 8. Whilst this won’t bother most people, for anyone using TV tuners on their computer (ie me), this could be a huge downfall. Media Center has a fantastic interface for TV and the EPG is great too – so I’ll be rather peeved if I have to pay for Media Center.
  • Secondly, Windows 8 will not be able to natively play DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. Why, you ask? Well, I’m not sure, but it does make some kind of sense to an extent. The key idea of Windows 8 is that it will be usable on tablets – which, in most (if not all)  cases, won’t have a DVD or Blu-Ray drive – so Microsoft are probably thinking they don’t need to waste money on licensing codecs to decode the discs. However, this is no good for anybody who is planning to use Windows 8 on a laptop or a desktop.

I fear that Microsoft are going to fall into the same trap with Windows 8 as they did with Windows Vista/7. Windows 8 will be fantastic on new devices that have it preinstalled, but Microsoft will face the backlog of people using their existing machines with Windows 7. Then, years after Windows 8 has launched, there will still be a vast majority of people on older operating systems that are still supported.

At the moment, I can’t see any huge reason to upgrade to Windows 8. There’s nothing in it for me that stands out and makes me think “I really want that”.

Ah well, Windows 7 is going to be supported until 2020, so I think I’ll stick with that for now.

Lovefilm – first class DVD/Bluray rentals – but at a cost

A few weeks ago, I was offered a free one month trial of Lovefilm and a £15 Amazon voucher (I believe Amazon are still running the promotion, so check amazon.co.uk). I like free, so thought I’d give it a try. I’m pretty careful about reading the terms though – don’t want to get charged money – so I did check them over and they seemed fine. Basically, they give you one month free – during which time you can rent as many films as you like (2 at a time), and then if you don’t cancel by the end of the month you’ll be charged the recurring subscription price (£13.27 at the time of writing). You’ll be sent your Amazon voucher within 30 days after you’ve got 10 films on your rental list and the first one has been dispatched.

Anyway, conditions aside, I thought I’d sign up and see what it was like. You have to provide card details, and they’ll authorize a £1 payment from your account – but this is refunded after about a week. Got it going, added some films and waited for the packages to fall through the postbox.

I have to say – after three weeks of trying it – I really do like the service. The speed of delivery is very good – with DVD’s usually arriving next day after despatch. They are packaged well and seem to keep the DVDs in good condition while in transit.

I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of DVD in a couple of cases. A couple of the discs that I ordered (particularly with older titles) were scratched to the point of them skipping – which irritated me slightly. However, you can report a problem with any disc you’ve had out and they will check it for you.

The website is also very easy to use. You simply choose which films you’d like to rent and it adds them to your list. You can even make separate lists for friends and family and choose how many discs are dispatched from each list. That, together with the watch online feature – which allows you to watch many titles online for free, makes the website relatively enjoyable to use.

Unfortunately, the cost of the service is a slight downfall. £13.27 per month for 2 titles at a time, I would say, is quite steep unless you really are an avid film lover. It’s a shame, because with many older releases being £3 each, it does make the service look quite expensive.  think the idea of it is brilliant – particularly if you watch a lot of films – but for me, I’ve managed to get through most of the films I wanted to see within the month!

However, if you are interested in renting films on a long term basis, this is well worth looking into. I’d much rather use Lovefilm than a conventional film rental service (in a shop). You’ve just got to keep on top of it (and make sure you’ve got enough films to see), otherwise it probably won’t be worth your money.

Do you still buy DVDs (or physical disks) or do you buy digitally?

Digital online films are all well and good, but are they better than DVDs?

It amazes me – despite the fact that my computer is rapidly becoming my digital shopping centre, I’m still not sure whether it’s better to buy physical discs (in my case DVDs – my budget doesn’t stretch to Blu-Ray films… yet!) or whether to digitally buy them online.

Cost is still the biggest factor for me – and probably for most people. Often films are horribly expensive on digital stores, such as iTunes, when you can get them very cheaply on shops such as Amazon or eBay as a physical disk.

Also, even if I buy it as a physical disk I can still rip it to my computer and use it on whatever device I want. As far as I’m aware, I’m perfectly within my rights to do so if I own the disk and don’t share it with anyone else. If I buy the content through a digital provider, that may be subject to DRM which means I won’t be able to place it on my iPod or whatever.

I was interested to hear rumours that some stores were offering free digital downloads of content together with purchases DVD discs. I’m not entirely sure whether that’s true or not, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone can verify that info for me.

Do you buy discs or download them (legitimately, of course!)? I’m still a cost-cutter – so whatever is cheaper get’s my purchase! But there are many other factors such as quality or portability that should be considered.

Convert your .ts PVR recordings to DVD format with ease!

If you’ve got a PVR (personal video recorder – a device that records TV programmes), you’ve probably get a few recordings lying on the hard disk that you really don’t want to delete. But now you’re reaching the stage where you’re running out of hard disk space and sacrifices are going to have to be made.

Well have no fear, because I’ve found a nifty little program that will convert the videos from your PVR into a DVD format ready for burning to DVD.

If you have a USB connection from your hard disk PVR to your computer, you’ll be able to copy the contents of it to your computer. Hook up your USB cable to it, put it into the necessary USB mode, and see what’s on it.

If you find various .ts files, you’re in luck. Because there’s a free program available called HDTV2DVD which will rewrite your .ts files into MPEG files for DVD burning. Even better – it will even organise the files into VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS so all you have to do is burn the two folders to DVD and it’s done.

The only thing you have to be aware of is that when you use HDTV2DVD on long programmes (eg. films which are more that 1.5 hours), you are going to struggle to fit it onto a 4.7GB DVD. You might need to get a dual layer disk.

There is an “autofit” feature which will effectively shrink the video into a size that will fit onto DVD, but it can really pixelise the image.

The one bug in HDTV2DVD that really annoys me is that the percentage done calculator is totally screwed up. By the time my 2 hour film had go to the end of conversion, the percentage done calculator was edging on 1,000,000%.

Other than that, it’s a really handy piece of freeware. I can’t seem to find any other program that will do the same job for free, so this one is a definite must have if you have a PVR.

Try it out and see what you think.