Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter

Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter DIGITAL DIGEST - LIVE UPDATE Issue 26

Your "whenever I have time to write one" newsletter
Thursday, 29th November, 2001


0. Section Zer0 - An Introduction to this Issue

1. PowerDVD 4.0 XP - XPerience it now!!

2. Scam Alert - the dangers of SPAM

3. DivX Sucks?

4. Donate to Digital Digest - find out how your donations have helped

5. New Programs at Digital Digest

6. How to Cancel/Change Your Subscription Email Address/Settings
- how to maintain the subscription to this newsletter even if your email address has changed

7. A Simple Thank-you
- a thank-you message for all those that joined this list


0. Section Zer0

Welcome to this, the 26th issue, of the Digital Digest LiveUpdate newsletter. Sorry for not writing an issue for so long.

There are many reasons why I haven't been publishing any new newsletters, but the most important is because while I haven't been writing any newsletters, I've been increasing the amount of stuff I write during regular updates on the websites. With each update, there is usually a "message" of the day, most of the time detailing what is new, but sometimes, also features some editorial comments on the latest happenings in the DVD/DivX world. I've also increased the frequency of updates, which actually helps to reduce the strain of having to update a whole bunch of stuff at once (less new stuff each update, but more updates).

Most of you should have heard by now about the next and best(?) version of PowerDVD, designed to coincide with the release of Windows XP. While I am still writing the full review for this product, I think most of you should already know why this latest version is much better than PowerDVD 3.0 (DTS anyone :)

There is also the recent flood of DVD-related SPAM and scams : selling freeware DVD tools and links to DVD/DivX websites, for as much as $49.99 (note that this is the price of the full standard version of PowerDVD) - it's amazing how some people don't want to pay for useful tools such as PowerDVD sold by reputable sites such as, and yet, are willing the shell out their hard earned money for some "too-good-to-be-true" DVD backup software, promoted using SPAM. Delete all SPAM now!!

Enjoy :)

-- DVDGuy

1. PowerDVD 4.0 XP - XPerience it now!!

The many new "faces" of PowerDVD 4.0 XP

The next and perhaps the greatest version of PowerDVD has been released, and ever since the release of WinDVD 3.0 (with DTS decoding), I think almost everyone has seen this one coming - PowerDVD 4.0 now has DTS decoding as well.

But the new improvement doesn't end there - to coincide with the release of Windows XP, PowerDVD 4.0 has been given the moniker of PowerDVD 4.0 XP, and of course, it has full XP compatibility.

The other new features, which I will just go through briefly are : Dolby Pro-Logic decoder, SRS TruSurround XT, Virtual Speaker Settings, Video Always on top (a very frequently requested feature), and a whole host of "beneath the hood" enhancements.

PowerDVD 4.0 XP is also available in two different editions, the Standard, and Deluxe editions. Basically, the Standard edition is a stripped down of the Deluxe version, without DTS and SRS audio decoding/enhancements.

Upgrade versions of PowerDVD are available, but only if you upgrade from version 2.5 or later (upgrade from 2.5 or lower is no longer supported).

You can now purchase the Standard/Deluxe/Upgrade versions using the links on this page, and you will also help to support this web site :

2. Scam Alert - the dangers of SPAM

The kind of SPAM not hated 
by all

Lately, there has been quite a few scams involving DVD related applications through SPAM. After you visit the website mentioned in the SPAM, and submit your credit card information, you'll either :

1. Receive nothing 2. Receive a web page with links to DVD websites (such as DVD Digest) 3. Receive a copy of SmartRipper, or some other FREE DVD/DivX tool that you could have downloaded for free from any good DVD/DivX website.

Almost every day now, I get email from people that have been tricked into purchasing something they could have gotten for free, and there seem to be no end to this.

If you have received such an email, you should forward a copy of it to your local consumer/anti-fraud organization, explain to them why this is a fraud, and inform your ISP as well as the ISP of the email sender about this SPAM scam.

It seems the MPAA has not yet involved itself in this, but as always, they seem to only pick on the easy targets (such as DVD/DivX/Free-speech websites), while real pirates/scams are running wild and they are doing nothing to stop them.

Remember : any company willing to use SPAM to promote their products SHOULD NOT BE TRUSTED!!!

You may want to post your experience/opinion regarding this article here :

3. DivX Sucks??

Too complicated or just right?

With the popularization (is that even a word?) of DivX (both the 3.11 Alpha and 4.x flavors), there has been small, but vocal group of people out there that has been criticizing the whole DivX phenomenon.

While some of their criticisms, such as the whole DivX encoding process being too difficult, are partially justified, many of the other points are not always correct.

The most common criticism is that DivX's quality is not as good as that of MPEG-2/DVDs - this is true, but this is also deliberate. DivX is not meant to be a competing format for MPEG-2 - in fact, DivX is based on the specifications of MPEG-4. MPEG-2 is meant for high-bandwidth systems, such as DVDs or Digital TV, while MPEG-4 is meant for low-mid bandwidth systems such as WAP, and the Internet. To ensure that videos do not take days to download from WAP enabled devices or the Internet, MPEG-4 is designed to be flexible in the area of bit-rate (which largely determines the file size). Of course, you cannot expect something that is 100 times smaller in size than an equivalent MPEG-2, and for it to still have the same quality - some movies you can download online are smaller than a CD quality MP3 that is of the same length - so how can you expect the video to look even remotely like a DVD?

Another common criticism is that there are too many encoding options for the DivX codec (especially the DivX 4.x codec) - usually, it is newbies that offer this criticism, and it is understandable, since video compression can be a difficult concept to grasp (but then again, nothing is without a learning curve). Surprisingly, experts users usually find that the added options allow them to tweak the codec more, and produce better quality video - so they actually prefer having more options, as opposed to "dumbing" down the codec. Some also suggest that DVD to DivX conversion should be made easier, just like Audio-CD to MP3 conversion - but you have to remember that video conversion will always be more complicated than audio conversion, and that there are by far many more variables that determine the final video output (eg. bit-rate/resolution for both video and audio, frame-rate, PAL/NTSC, progressive/interlaced video) - this, compared to MP3 encoding, which usually only concerns choosing a suitable bit-rate, and even that can be automatically determined by the compressor since most people use a similar bit-rate anyway (eg. 128, 160, 192 kbps - the resolution is almost always at 44.1 kHz). Remember, with DivX encoding, you have to worry about the audio as well.

In fact, if there was a "1-click" DVD to DivX conversion program (no such thing, BTW, and not likely to pop up anytime soon - see SPAM article above), you'll find that many expert users will turn their heads at this program, unless it also gives you the option to "tweak" the settings a little. The output produced will also be mediocre at best, since each movie requires different encoding procedures to obtain the best quality, and the "human eye" (and brain) is sometimes needed to find the best encoding solution (not to mention a healthy dash of trial and error). Most likely, the conversion will simply fail and the user has to manually intervene, since there are far too many factors which could cause this to happen.

But in the end, the DivX codec is free for personal use, so any criticism will have to take this point into account - if you can find another video codec that is just as good as DivX and is also free, please feel free to use it instead, and rubbish DivX all you want :)

Feel free to post your opinion in our forum :

4. Donate to Digital Digest - find out how your donations have helped

You can now donate to us using the PayPal service, which a couple of visitors has recommended to us. Previously, this payment option wasn't available to those with non US bank accounts, but they have now added some support for international bank accounts.

You can donate to us here :

The above page also contains a list of items/services that your donation has helped Digital Digest to purchase, in order to make Digital Digest better for you. As I type, another dedicated server is being ordered, which will hopefully increase the loading speed of our websites. Running a website that gets 6,000,000+ page views (not "impressions" or "hits", but actual complete web pages downloaded) is very costly, and perhaps the reason why dotcoms going down the drain, left and right.

5. New Programs at Digital Digest

There has been too many new programs at Digital Digest released since the last newsletter, so there won't be a list of new/updated software for this issue of the newsletter.

6. 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  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 address 

7. A simple thank-you

Just a note to thank all the thousands of people (3000 at last count), including you, who joined the DVD Digest LiveUpdate program. We've spent quite a bit of time developing this site, and making it what it is today, and really do appreciate your continued support.

We have changed most of our click ads into banner impression ads, which means you no longer need to click on them, although it will still help my advertisers. And if you are interested in advertising on our site, or even on this newsletter, please contact us or refer to our Advertising page :

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We hoped you enjoyed another LiveUpdate newsletter. We'll try to make this newsletter a regular fortnightly one in the future.



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