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Digital DIGEST - LIVE UPDATE Issue 40

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15 December, 2003

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1. Introduction

2. What's happened on DivX Digest since the last newsletter?

3. What's happened on DVD Digest since the last newsletter?

4. What's happened on DVD±R Digest since the last newsletter?

5. How to cancel/change your subscription email address/settings
- how to maintain the subscription to this newsletter even if
your email address has changed

6. A simple thank-you and some concluding words

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1. Introduction

Well, it nearing the end of the year again, so welcome to what could
be the last ever newsletter for 2003 (although I'll try my best to
squeeze another one in).

Plenty to talk about in this issue, mainly because I now have more
time to work on Digital Digest. There's news about DVDtoOgm, more
ranting from me about HTPCs, rumors about firmware that upgrades your
8x DVD writer drive for dual layered burning.

Look forward to more rantings about HTPC in the next issue, and a
special roundup of 2003, as well as the usual predictions for the
coming year.

Happy Holidays.

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2. What's happened on DivX Digest since the last newsletter?

A new version of DVDtoOgm has been released. In case anyone missed my
rant in Issue 32, DVDtoOgm does to DVD to Ogm conversion what
GordianKnot does to DVD to AVI conversion. In fact, both software
share the basic principles of operation, as well as several key

The new 1.40 Beta version adds several features users of GordianKnot
would be familiar with. First of all, Smart Cropping has been added,
which now makes cropping video as easy as pressing a single button.
Next up is the all important compressibility checking, which is one
of the key features that make GordianKnot so effective at producing
high quality (yet small sized) video files. Compressibility checking
compresses a small portion of the video (usually 10%), and use this
small portion to determine a compressibility rating, which then
allows you to adjust the bit-rate to get the best compromise between
quality and file size.

Next up is DivX multi-pass support, which has been in demand ever
since DivX 5 introduced the concept of multiple pass encoding. Then
there is the 3ivX support, which is great to see. There are also
small changes to the interface, to allow for Ogm's more unique
features, such as multiple audio track support. It is now possible to
add more than 2 audio tracks.

To go with the new version, I have updated the DVDtoOgm guide as
well. There was also a new version of GordianKnot released, which
added MPA muxing support, as well as a new de-interlacing filter,
better handling of default codec settings, as well as updates for the
included software.

I've also finally updated the DivX 5 Setup guide for the 5.1.x
version of the DivX codec, which had quite a few changes to the
overall interface. One of the small changes, but possibly confusing
one, was the change to the performance/quality option. In previous
versions of the DivX codec, you would set this to the "Slowest"
setting to get the best possible quality. In the new version,
the "Standard" now corresponds to the previous "Slowest" setting, and
two new "Slowest" setting is now much much slower. The quality
increases of selecting the "Slowest" setting probably doesn't justify
the quality gains though, so the "Standard" setting is now the best
one. MV re-use (logging) is no longer selected by default, since it
reduces the quality with only small gains in performance (and with
modern CPUs, it's worth going for maximum quality without having to
worry too much about performance). All of this is explained in great
detail (with some quite technical explanations) in the official DivX
guide, which is now available as a PDF document.

As for my DivX 5 Setup guide, it has been updated to account for the
changes in the new DivX codec, as well as clarifying the instructions
regarding the different encoding pass methods.

Related Links :
3ivX :
DivX 5.1.x Setup Guide : http://www.divx-
DVDtoOgm :
DVD to Ogm Conversion Guide : http://www.divx-
GordianKnot :
Official DivX Guide :

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3. What's happened on DVD Digest since the last newsletter?

I've been a little obsessed recently, and it's taking up all my time.
Even though I have added plenty of movie organizers to DVD Digest,
I've never really used one of them before, but ever since I started,
I haven't been able to stop. I have about 150 DVDs in my modest
collection, and I've always thought that cataloging them would be a
good idea, even if it just for insurance purposes. But the thought of
all that typing turns me right off.

That all changed when I started using IMDB enabled movie organizers -
just type in the movie's name, and seconds later, all the information
regarding the movie has been automatically entered in. It can even
download a screenshot of the DVD cover for you. And best of all, you
get all sorts of statistics about your movie collection. And it
doesn't really matter which movie organizer you use - most of them
offer pretty much the same functions.

And if you've been reading this newsletter, you'll know that I have
another little obsession - HTPCs. I have already decided that my next
computer purchase will be a home theatre PC, not that there are any
special requirements that make an ordinary PC different to a HTPC.
The only additional thing you'll need to quality most computers for
HTPC status is a TV input card. The other part of the equation is the
software, and this is usually the more difficult bit.

In order to qualify your PC as an HTPC, the default Windows interface
just won't cut it. What you need is an easy to use interface that can
access all your multimedia applications (eg. DVD player, MP3 player,
picture viewer ...), that can be operated using a remote control
device. I've talked about myHTPC before (and I've finally added it to
the software section), but myHTPC does exactly what I just described
above. It's a graphical menu interface that allows you to associate
external programs with each menu item. Most multimedia programs these
days have remote control support, and combined with myHTPC, you will
never have to use your keyboard/mouse ever again (although most HTPCs
have wireless keyboard/mouse, so it's not too difficult if a program
doesn't support remote control use).

If you want to go with a more integrated solution, then Intervideo
Home Theatre is what you need. While Intervideo Home Theatre offers a
similar type of graphical user interface as myHTPC, the difference is
that all of the multimedia functions are built right into the GUI,
and the entire software bundle includes pretty much all the
multimedia tools you'll need (and all of them are good quality
software, made by the company responsible for the most popular DVD
player software in the world). The only drawback is that it has less
flexibility than myHTPC, which allows you to associate any program
you choose to the front-end.

Still, it says a lot about "convergence", when a well known company
like Intervideo produces software designed specifically for the HTPC
market. In fact, HP already has a PC out in my country that is sold
as a HTPC and uses the Intervideo Home Theatre software, and one of
the hottest items in this year's PC shows are small form factor PC
cases (Shuttle being the company known for having the best small form
factor cases), also designed specifically for the HTPC market. It's
all happening ...

Related Links :
DVD Movie Organizers :
Intervideo Home Theatre :
myHTPC :

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4. What's happened on DVD±R Digest since the last newsletter?

In the last issue, I talked about dual layer burning, and the
possible implications it has on DVD backups. The original estimate
arrival for the first dual layered burner is April, but there is news
that it may be here much sooner, and it may be even require any new
hardware (or at least theoretically).

It turns out that by tweaking existing 8x DVD+R drives, it will be
possible to write to dual layered media. Although this was only
mentioned as a way of prototyping dual layer technology, rumor
quickly circulated that manufacturers of existing 8x DVD+R writers
(Benq, Liteon, Plextor ... drives slower than 8x does not have
sufficient laser power to burn dual layered discs) will eventually
release a firmware that enables dual layered writing. Certain rumors
suggest that the firmware could be released as soon as January 2004.

Now, assuming this is technically possible, I find it hard to believe
that hardware manufacturers would want to risk losing millions in
lost dual layered burner sales, to please customers that they have
already made money from. Everybody already knows about CPU
manufacturing, and how the same chip manufactured on the same
production line gets sold at different speeds based on production
quality (hence the possibility of overclocking a P4 2.4 GHz to over 3
GHz, with stock cooling), and if a firmware is all that's needed to
make them burn dual layered discs, then bank on manufacturers to
release the exact same hardware with a different firmware, call it a
brand new model and charge $100 more for it. It's just business ...

16x recording could be here as well, as demonstrated by Philips. With
16x burning, you can burn a full DVD+R in less than 6 minutes. DVD
burning technology seems to be moving very quickly lately - the
announcement of 16x burning comes out at a time when even 8x drives
(and media) are still rare. Who knows, it may be news about 24x
burning in our next newsletter ...

Related Links :
Benq DW800A dual layer firmware news :
Dual layer DVD+R : Digital Video Forum Discussion :'625
Shakin' All Over: DVD Recording Goes for 16X :€89
The dual layer DVD recordable - Article :
Your 8x DVD+R drive might write dual layer discs :

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5. How to cancel/change settings/email address for your subscription
to this newsletter

Changing subscription status for this newsletter is pretty easy.

To un-subscribe :
- Send an email to liveupdate-unsubscribe at using the
email account that receives this newsletter.

To change the email address that receives this newsletter :
- Un-subscribe using your current one, and sign up using a new email

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6. A simple thank-you and some concluding words

Just a note to thank all the thousands of people, including you, who
joined the Digital Digest LiveUpdate list. I've spent quite a bit of
time developing this site, and making it what it is today, and really
do appreciate your continued support.

I hoped you enjoyed another issue of the LiveUpdate newsletter. You
won't have to wait seven more months for the next issue, I promise


============END OF LIVEUPDATE NEWSLETTER===========

Hilary Duff is America's Sweetheart & an international HeartBreaker.

"FAILING = Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth" -- Gary
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