movies

Netflix movies very slow to load - but fast on an iPad

Netflix lets you watch movies on your TV using your Wii and also on your computer using InstantWatch, which relies on Silverlight technology from Microsoft.

It works great through the Wii but it's pathetically slow on a computer with Silverlight (which I am convinced is the problem). You can expect to wait 5 - 10 minutes to load up the movie when using Netflix on your Mac or PC computer, and you can expect to wait another 5 - 10 minutes for the movie to "buffer" itself at least twice during the movie.

I've tried it on both Windows and Mac computers using both Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer browsers. Same results. It's definitely a problem with the Silverlight viewer and not the Netflix streaming service because it works great when viewing movies on your TV using a Wii.

Netflix movies fortunately still load very fast on an iPad using the Netflix app from iTunes. It took only a few seconds to load up a movie on my iPad, and I didn't experience any of the slow buffering problems that plague the PC/Mac viewer.

Once the movie was loaded on my iPad, it played almost instantly with no additional buffering. I was able to fast forward and it was able to play from the new position almost immediately - a task that leaves you waiting 5 - 10 minutes for buffering when using Netlix on your computer.

But the iPad solution is not without it's flaws. Netflix movies run faster on iPads but the quality has gone way down. Here's a clip from Surrogates starring Bruce Willis where 5 surrogate policemen are killed by a weapon that zaps their optical sockets.

You can see how bitmapped the clip looks. It's about like viewing a Youtube video which is just one step above completely unacceptable for action shots.

How to Rip Copy-Protected DVD Movies

DVD movies that you buy or rent can be viewed on your computer using a number of DVD player programs, but there are a few downsides to this approach - especially for laptop users who travel a lot:

1. Battery life on laptops is greatly reduced by the mechanical spinning of the DVD drive.

2. It's a pain to swap out DVD discs for each movie, let alone pack the discs along if you're on a vacation or business trip.

3. The spinning DVD drive is noisy and can be annoying for passengers sitting next to you.

For these reasons, it's often desirable to convert each DVD movie to an electronic format so they can be viewed as videos. This approach lets you store several videos on your hard and play them as often as you like without having to swap out DVD discs. Your battery life will also be a lot longer, because you won't have to keep a DVD drive spinning to watch the videos.

Converting commercial movies into video format requires software that's able to crack the copy-protection and convert the movie into common digital video formats, such as Quicktime's .mp4/.mov format, or Windows Media's .wmv format.

Getting Started

In this article I'll show you 5 easy steps for converting copy-protected DVD movies into videos using Wondershare's DVD Ripper Platinum program. You'll be able to convert your movies into numerous formats for viewing them on your computer as well as mobile devices like the iPhone, PSP, Zune and even an Apple TV.

To get started, download Wondershare for Windows (also available for Mac) from their website and follow along with the steps below:

Five Easy Steps for Ripping DVD Movies

1. Install and start Wondershare DVD Ripper Platinum, and insert the DVD movie into your disc drive.

Record TV Shows and Cable Movies Directly to your Computer

Many people pay an extra $10 - $15 a month for a DVR to record TV shows and movies and view them later.

Did you know you could be recording TV and cable shows directly to your computer for free?

All you need is an audio/video capture adapter that plugs into your computer's USB port, like the EasyCAP USB2.0 Video Capture VHS-to-USB Adapter. Once you've hooked the adapter up between your TV and your computer, you'll be able to record any show directly to your computer in a digital video format of your choice (avi, mpeg, wmv, etc).

You can also edit the videos to remove commercials, and can even transfer these videos to your iphone or other mobile device to view them on the go.

Here's what the adapter looks like, with cables that will plug into your TV's RCA or S-Video jacks on one end, and into your computer's USB port on the other end:

The USB end plugs into your computer, and the RCA jacks plug into your TV, VCR, or cable box.

The adapter comes with Ulead Movie Maker software that you'll run on your PC. With the software running, you'll click "Video Capture" when your TV show or movie comes on and the show will be saved to your computer in high quality digital video and audio.

Yes, this adapter could also be used to make backup copies of your DVD or VHS movies (just be sure to honor any copyright laws that may exist in your country).

Transfer Video from your Camcorder to your Computer

Have a video you've recorded that you're proud of or that you'd like to share with friends and family?

This article will show you how to connect your camcorder to your PC, copy your recording to your computer, make a movie and publish it to YouTube or BlipTV or burn them to a DVD that will play in your DVD or Blue-Ray player - all using free software that's already bundled with Windows Vista Premium (along with a recommendation for a top notch movie making program if you don't have Vista Premium).

The only thing you'll need to buy if you don't have one already, is a Firewire DV cable that will connect your camcorder to your computer. Once connected, you can easily make movies out of them using free tools that are built into Windows.

You can also make backup copies of your miniDV digital video cassettes on your computer and burn them to a DVD, or convert them into mp4 video format and transfer them to your iPod or iPhone.

Connect your Camcorder to your Computer

I own a Canon ZR800 digital camcorder, which is a very popular model that takes great videos using standard MiniDV cassettes. I recently took some video of my 10-year-old daughter's talent show she did with 3 of her friends at school, and several other mothers wanted a copy of the video.

Blockbuster vs Netflix - Which Movie Rental Service is the Best?

Remember when you used to have to drive to the rental store and pick out VHS movies to rent? You might even remember renting a VCR machine before they became common place.

Then DVDs hit the market and DVD players became so affordable that almost everyone owned one. High quality movie media combined with high-end flat panel HD TV screens provide for a top notch movie viewing experience right in your own home.

Blockbuster and Netflix have jumped head first into the movie rental business, and both will ship 3 DVD movies to your home at a time for a low monthly fee. You can rent as many movies as you want throughout the month, but you can only have up to 3 at a time.

So which movie rental service is the best? Blockbuster or Netflix?

I've tried both services for several months, and ended up choosing one of them and sticking with it for over 2 years. Before I tell you which one, let's compare the facts:

Netflix

The first service to start with free delivery movie rentals was Netflix, and they quickly captured the market with their low $18.99-a-month fee for as many movies as you could watch.

Netflix has a very user-friendly website that lets you browse thousands of movies, new releases, classics, and every imaginable category and genre.

My wife and I were Netflix evangelists for several months, and encouraged our friends to check out the service. It was far cheaper to pay the low monthly fee than to pay for each individual rental movie, especially when you consider late fees for forgetting to return them on time.

How to Backup Copy-Protected DVD Movies

Question: I have a few DVD movies that I'd like to copy for backup purposes, and would also like to view them on my laptop when I go on business trips. The software that came with my laptop isn't able to do it though - it says the DVDs are copy-protected. Is there an easy way to do this?

Answer: You'd think it would just be a simple matter of plugging the DVD into the DVD drive on your computer, and clicking a "Create Backup Copy" menu somewhere in Windows Explorer (or in the Finder for Mac users). It turns out however that copy-protection and encryption on commercial DVD movies have made it a lot harder than that.

Your operating system will not let you make backup copies of your favorite copy-protected commercial DVD movies without the help of third-party software programs. You'll also most likely need to find software made outside the United States. Thanks to some confusing legislation, and the fear of copyright law suits in the states, companies like Roxio, Nero, and others have removed the ability to copy commercial DVDs.

Is it legal?

If you're intentions are to copy your DVDs and sell them for profit, then you're clearly violating copyright laws and will be subject to fines or imprisonment if caught.

But what about making backup copies of your own DVDs that you paid for? I'm not a lawyer, so I recommend that you read the copyright laws for your country and decide for yourself what's legal and what's not. Personally I found them confusing at best, and conflicting with regards to fair usage laws that should allow me to protect my personal property by making backup copies of my own DVDs.

I'm a firm believer in the right to protect your own personal property. For DVDs that means being able to burn backup copies to your heart's content, provided they're for your own personal viewing (ie. you aren't selling them or using them to make a profit).

The search for a good DVD Ripper and Burner