Archive for DVD

Half Off Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 Video Editor and DVD Maker

For longer than I can remember, I have been using and recommending Corel’s VideoStudio Pro package for excellent, affordable, and easy-to-use editing of digital video and for making your own DVDs.

Corel never rests in their efforts to keep these product competitive, modern, and up-to-date with the latest home video standards. The latest version, VideoStudio Pro X4, is no exception.

At its regular price of $100 it is still a great buy, but currently you can acquire this software for half that, $50.

VideoStudio Pro X4

VideoStudio Pro X4

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 is the powerful, creative and easy way to take your video footage from shoot to showfast. Quickly load, organize and trim SD or HD video clips. Easily cut together your production from templates and get creative with amazing effects, music, titles, transitions and more. Explore new Stop Motion Animation and Time-Lapse tools, then export to 3D! Share anywhereon iPhone and other mobile devices, disc, your favorite website or your TV. …

Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray and DVD today

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

I used to read comic books. Admittedly, I still pick one up and flip through the pages to see what’s going on with some of my favorites.

One favorite has always been Iron Man.

I loved the first Iron Man movie. I probably saw it at least 6 times in the theater. I bought the DVD shortly after it came out… and I was waiting for it to come out, too.

I didn’t think the second one was as good as the first. The first one was good enough to make up for it, I guess. I was concerned the filmmakers wouldn’t work so hard on the second one. It’s easy to do when then first was so successful.

Regardless, Iron Man 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD today. Both can be bought with digital copies for your computer or laptop. You can use the links here to take advantage of the great prices at

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

Iron Man 2 DVD

Iron Man 2 DVD

TigerDirect Deals

Skylarking is gearing up for Black Friday, but you can get an early start with these home entertainment and computer specials from TigerDirect.

SONY BRAVIA HDTVs w/FREE Blu-Ray Player.- (11/9 – 11/16/09) or while supplies last!

sonyset1SAVE $545 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony Bravia II 40″ LCD HDTV KDL40V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Network Blu-Ray Disc Player Bundle $954.98. I’ve been wanting to get one of these network blu-ray disc players. Hook them up to your home network to stream movies, videos, music, and more right off the Internet from Netflix, YouTube, and more. Plus you can also play and upscale your standard DVDs to near high definition with this player.

sonyset2SAVE $650 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony 52″ Bravia V LCD HDTV KDL52V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Network Blu-Ray Disc Player Bundle $1,599.98. One more foot of viewing space on your screen with fantastic Sony Bravia features. Too many to list, and, once again, the same great network Blu-ray player as before.

sonyset3SAVE $750 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony 55″ LCD HDTV KDL55V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Disc Player Bundle $1,799.98.

BEST SELLERS.- (11/9 – 11/16/09) or while supplies last!

  • SAVE $40 – FREE SHIPPING – AOC 20″ Widescreen LCD Monitor with 1680 x 1050 pixels of resolution, a 3000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio for crisp images with sharp black and white. Has a VGA connector for use with any PC or notebook. All yours for $109.99.
  • SAVE $20 – FREE SHIPPING – ACER Aspire Desktop with an AMD Athlon 2.6GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), a massive 320GB hard disk drive for storing all your files. All powered by Vista Home Premium. $249.99. This computer is eligible for a free Windows 7 upgrade, too.
  • SAVE $200 – FREE SHIPPING – HP Pavilion dv2 Notebook with an AMD Athlon Neo 1.6GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), a 250GB hard disk drive (storage) with an external DVD-RW (rewriteable DVD burner). The screen measures 12.1 inches. Comes with Windows Vista Premium $549.99 after $50 MIR, rebate expires 01/16/2010. Plus you can get a Windows 7 upgrade for this machine.


    Gateway Win7 Notebook $700

  • SAVE $90 – FREE SHIPPING – HP Pavilion G70 Notebook with an Intel Core2Duo T6500 processor with a 2.1GHz clock speed, 4GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), and 320GB of hard disk space. A large 17 inch screen tops it off. With Windows Vista Premium (64-bit) This is a refurbished unit for $579.97. Upgrade it to Windows 7 while you’re at it.
  • SAVE $150 – FREE SHIPPING – Gateway Notebook Intel Core2 Duo T6600 2.2GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM (memory), a 500GB hard drive for storage, and a large 17.3 inch LED screen. Equipped with the Microsoft Windows 7 Premium 64-bit operating system for a mere $699.99.

What’s with External Blu-Ray Drives?

Grammatically speaking, I am not too certain about that headline, but subjectwise I’d like to thank “Reel Advice” from the “Reel Advice Movie review” blog for commenting on my Sept. 4 post about the Portable DVD and CD Drive for $40. They said:

Pretty nice deal for a portable drive but I will wait for portable Bluray drives before buying one of my own!

For me, Blu-ray wasn’t a consideration because I don’t have any Blu-ray discs — data or video — except for one or two accidental purchases, Superman II and Iron Man, which I have long since sold on eBay. Additionally, I bought the Lite-On ETDU10896 External Slim DVD ROMicon from purely for installing software and transferring files to computers other than my own. The other consideration was price. I didn’t want to spend more than $60 including tax.

But Reel Advice’s comment made me go back and search for portable blu-ray drives all the same. The results were interesting… for a while.

External Blu-Ray Drives

External Blu-Ray Drives

It turns out there are only two External / Portable Blu-Ray drives out there under $100 from “major” manufacturers: The LG BE06LU10 Super Multi Blue and the Panasonic UJ-120, but, for the most part, they are not available for “retail” sale; they’re pretty much “OEM”. OEM is “Original Equipment Manufacturer” which means they are for purchase by computer manufacturers. So if you are not an equipment manufacturer, and you buy one of these drives, and something goes wrong with it, you won’t be able to get any support from the manufacturer. (I had that happen once with an OEM motherboard I bought. There was a retail version available, but the OEM version was cheaper. Sadly, when I had trouble with the motherboard, I couldn’t get any assistance. I lived with it. Buyer beware, etc. I should have known better.)

So you can’t go to Best Buy and get any of these drives now, but they are available through other sites online.

One such site,, had a nice list of requirements for the Panasonic UJ-120 to work properly on your PC. Here’s the run down from their site:

  • Required software is not included.
  • This will function fine with your existing DVD and CD viewing and recording software.
  • To watch Blu-Ray movies, you will need HD capable software such as PowerDVD 8 Ultra, PowerDVD Suite 6 or ArcSoftTotalMedia Theater.
  • To use the drive as Blu-Ray player, your system needs to meet the following requirements:
  • Operating system: Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or better or Windows Vista
  • CPU: Core Duo or Core 2 Duo systems are generally compatible with Blu-ray disc drives. If your PC has a single processor (e.g. Intel Pentium 4), it should be at least 3.2 Ghz or have an AMD Athlon 64 FX games model, or an Intel Pentium EE Edition.
  • Memory: At least 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics card: This is the important part! You will need an nVidia GeForce 7600 GT or higher or an AMD/ATI X1600 or higher. You will need at least 256MB graphics memory and your card should support HDCP. Contact the manufacturer directly or visit their site for video adapter specifications if you aren’t sure whether your graphics card is HDCP enabled. You may also want to confirm that you have a graphics adapter driver version which supports Blu-ray discs (AMD/ATI Catalyst 6.7 and higher or nVidia ForceWare 93.71), and download the latest driver if necessary.
  • We know this list of requirements is intimidating. You’ll often be covered if your computer is a fairly recent model. We attached the USB 2.0 Blu-Ray drive to our Dell XPS M2010, installed the PowerDVD 8 Ultra and had no problem at all viewing a Blu-Ray movie.

Good points.

Vista System Properties

Vista System Properties

If you’re interested in seeing if your Windows (XP or Vista) computer meets these requirements, do the following:

  1. On the desktop, right-click on “My Computer”. A list a ppears. (Alternately, you can go to the “Control Panel” on your Start menu, then double-click “System”.)
  2. Click “Properties”. A system properties dialog box appears.
  3. On the screen you will find information for your computer’s “Operating System”, the “Processor” (CPU), and “Memory (RAM)”.
  4. Click the “Hardware” tab (XP) and/or “Device Manager”.
  5. Double-click “Display adapters” to see what graphics card you have. (You may have to do some research here to see if your card meets the requirements on the list above.)

And if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me here at Skylarking.

Resounding Flop

Oh, well.  Last week’s free Netflix offer went exactly the opposite of what I expected. I’m not quite sure where it went wrong.

When I offered to send a coupon for a free month of Netflix to everyone who subscribed to Skylarking by email last week, I expected to be swamped with subscribers. Well, maybe not swamped, but I expected I would be quite busy emailing coupons out at some point over the weekend. Specially when I saw my offer being retweeted on Twitter on two separate days.

Sadly, I ended up not having to send out a single coupon.

In some cases people subscribed, but never confirmed their subscription when the validation email from Feedburner arrived. I emailed these people directly, and had some of the emails I sent out bounce back with a “user unknown” failure.

Overall, I was looking to get maybe 50 to 100 new subscribers to Skylarking. I figured some of those subscribers would cancel their subscription after they received the coupon, and I was okay with that, but I received less than 30 new subscribers who either never validated, or the address they submitted was “user unknown” by their email service.

Fortunately, my subscriber drive was not a complete flop. I did pick up a handful of new subscribers by RSS feed, and I did note an increase in clicks on the feed, too. I am thankful for that.

Anyhoo (not a typo), I will try again.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Try Netflix Free for One Month

netflixIf you’ve never ever used Netflix, but you’d like to try it out, then subscribe to Skylarking with your valid email address before midnight on the evening of Friday, June 12, 2009 and I will email you a coupon for one month of Netflix for free. Normally their free trial is only for two weeks, but this offer is for one full month of service. Quantities are limited on this offer.

Rules to Qualify

  1. Subscribe with a valid email address using the subscription form at the top right of the site.
  2. Activate your email subscription when you receive the “Activation” email message. (Watch your spam folders.)
  3. Only the first 100 +/- subscribers will get a coupon.
  4. When the Feedburner count at the top of the site reads around 145 to 155 then no more coupons will be sent. (To account for Feedburner’s update delay.)
  5. You will receive your coupon by email on Saturday, June 13, 2009.
  6. Your email subscription to Skylarking must be active through Saturday June 13, 2009.

Disclaimer from Netflix
Coupons expire on June 15, 2009. Current and previous Netflix members and their households are ineligible. Internet access and valid payment method required to redeem offer. Free Trial lasts for one month. Netflix will begin to bill your payment method for the Netflix plan selected at sign-up at the completion of the free trial unless you cancel prior to the end of the free trial. Subscription Periods: Your Netflix membership is a month-to-month subscription that you can cancel at any time. Click the “Your Account” button for cancellation instructions. No refunds or credits for partial monthly subscription periods. Membership & Trial Plans: The number of DVDs out at a time varies by plan. For example, 3 DVDs out at-a-time is $16.99 a month plus applicable tax. Blu-ray: An additional monthly fee applies for Blu-ray access. Delivery: One business day delivery based on more than 97% of our members being within one-day postal delivery zones. Netflix reserves the right to change terms and conditions at any time.

What Is Netflix?
I can’t believe you asked me that, but here it is straight from their web site’s About Us page:

Netflix, Inc. is the world’s largest online movie rental service, with more than 10 million subscribers. For one low monthly price, Netflix subscribers can get DVDs delivered to their homes and can instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed to their TVs and computers, all in unlimited amounts. Subscribers can choose from over 100,000 DVD titles and a growing library of more than 12,000 choices that can be watched instantly. There are never any due dates or late fees. DVDs are delivered free to subscribers by first class mail, with a postage-paid return envelope, from 58 distribution centers. More than 97 percent of Netflix subscribers live in areas that generally receive shipments in one business day.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Weekend Sale at Corel! Ends Midnight May 31.

Corel, the makers of WordPerfect, VideoStudio, and Paint Shop Pro, is having a special online sale which ends at midnight on May 31. Here are some links to some of their products. The links will let Corel know you found out about the sale from Skylarking.

bs_pspx2ult_lgSave Up to $40 on Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate. Full $99.99 $59.99. Offer ends Midnight 05/31/09: Paint Shop Pro is a very popular and easy to use photo and image editing program. It’s popular with high school and college students, and very handy for web site developers, too.

Save $40 on Corel VideoStudio™ Pro X2. Full $99.99 Only $59.99. Offer Ends Midnight 05/31/09: I have been using Corel VideoStudio for many years now to edit my home movies from my digital camcorder. With VideoStudio you can import video from most digital camcorders, edit them, and burn them onto DVDs which can be used in most DVD players and game consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation. You can even use VideoStudio Pro to upload your videos onto YouTube. It’s a great product, and I recommend it highly. And this is a great price.

Save up to $30 on WordPerfect Office X4 Standard. Full $299.99 $269.99. Offer Ends Midnight 05/31/09 : WordPerfect Office includes the WordPerfect word processor, the Quattro Pro spreadsheet application, the Presentations slideshow application, Visual Intelligence SE for creating charts and graphs, the WordPerfect Lightning notation application, and WordPerfect Mail for email. It also includes tools for opening and creating PDFs and web sites.

bs_painter11_lgFREE $40 GelaSkins laptop Cover & Photo Painter webinar with Corel Painter 11 from $199.00. Expires Midnight 05/31/09: If you purchase a copy of Corel Painter 11 online through before this offer ends, you will receive protective GelaSkins laptop cover (a $40 value) for your laptop, and an invite to attend an online seminar to learn more about using Corel photo Painter 11.

photo_video_bundle_lgSave $30 on Corel Photo & Video Bundle only $149.99 $119.99. This package deal provides you with the tools for editing your digital photos and videos with your personal computer. This bundle contains Paint Shop Pro X2 Ultimate for photo editing, and Video Studio Pro X2 for video editing and video CD and DVD burning. You can also create videos which can be played back on your video capable iPod, iTouch, iPhone. or T-Mobile G1. This package also includes a 2 GB USB flash drive, and WinDVD for playing DVDs on your PC using your PC’s DVD drive. Read more about each of these applications in my descriptions above.

bs_windvd9plusblueray_lgSave $40 on WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray. Full $99.99 $59.99. Ends Midnight 05/31/09. WinDVD9 Plus Blu-ray allows you to play DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs on your PC’s DVD or Blu-ray DVD drive for enjoying Hi-Def video discs on your computer. If you’re not sure your computer is equipped to handle Hi-Def Video and Blu-ray you can download Corel’s Hi-Definition Advisor Tool to check your computer system’s compatibility. WinDVD 9 also supports Dolby Digital EX Pro Logic II, Real Player, QuickTime, DivX, AVCGD, and DTS Digital Surround. And it’s compatible with Windows Vista.

Feel free to contact me about these products, or add your comments on this offer and the products with the links below.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Zappos is more than shoes

zapposTweet! Tweet! Skylarking is back!

While I was on the mend, I was still watching and reading the news, surfing the web, etc., and amidst it all I watched as all the things I could write about piled up on my desk, my night table, and in my head. Where it piled up more I will not say, but it didn’t take me long to decide that would be blogged about.

Perhaps you know Zappos? It’s a play on words for “zapatos” — Spanish for shoes. Indeed, rose to fame as the shoe site that had them all, and with a fantastic return policy, too: 365 days from the date of purchase so long as the item was in the condition you received it in, and in the original packaging. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Perhaps you saw Zappos on Nightline last July? The segment gave you an inside look at the company, the staff, the culture, the policies, the young CEO Tony Hsieh, and, of course, the web site itself. You can see it here at right. I highly recommend watching.

zappos-diesel-underwearEither way, if you’ve heard of Zappos, shopped at Zappos, or not, I recommend checking them out today, or very very soon because Zappos has grown to be so much more than shoes. Now they carry clothing, handbags, sunglasses, and even Diesel underwear. (Hey, it’s not everyday you get to read a technology blog that talks about underwear. Is it?) I’m not talking about Vin Diesel’s underwear (he’s the star of all those tech action films like Hitman, XXX, and the new The Fast and The Furious. Did you see those links? Yes? Yes, you can get Vin Diesel on DVD at Zappos, too. Now, back to my topic.)  No, this is men’s and women’s underwear from the popular and trendy Diesel brand. Not just the bottoms, they sell the tops, too. The whole family can get in on the act, because Diesel makes clothes for kids, too.

Okay, I must confess, some friends heard I was ill last week and they thought to cheer me up with a little gift, so they bought what you would buy anyone who was sick in bed and needed to be cheered up. Yes, you guessed it, they bought me some Diesel underwear from They found them among the gift ideas on the site. Admittedly, boxers are more my style, but who can turn away a gift from friends when one needs it most. Regardless, I have a little less than 365 days to send them back.

You can also check out the upcoming, new and improved Zappos site which is being called “Zeta“. Zappos knows, and now you do, too.

Oh, and I’m still on the mend if you want to cheer me up…  (Suite 46, 27 Merrick Ave, Merrick NY 11566). Tweet! Tweet!

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Save 30% on all TV remotes and home theater in a box

Now you can save 30% on all TV remotes and home theater in a box with coupon code 0907K09NFD9Z0N from now until March 12, 2009. This offer is brought to you by Dell.


harmony88You can save on remotes such as the Logitech Harmony 880 (shown). The Harmony 880 features plug-and-play USB connectivity for easy programability and setup, 53 top-mounted hard buttons and 8 on-screen activity buttons, and an interactive display which keeps you  informed of what is going on. You can use the 8 On-screen activity buttons with Smart State Technology to watch movies, listen to music, or enjoy your favorite TV shows. You can also integrate up to 15 devices including HDTVs, DVR Systems, DVD, CD players, VCRs, PVRs, cable or satellite boxes, speaker systems and more. It also includes a sleek docking station that keeps the remote fully charged.

Home Theater in a Box

Assembling the parts for a home theater system can be a daunting task., but Dell simplifies the process with their Home Theater Selector tool. It takes you step by step through the process. It starts by asking what room will your theater system be in, what are the lighting conditions, and where will the screen be. The it shows you some component recommendations based upon your answers.

Video: To Stream or Not To Stream

That is today’s question.

Apple iTunes

I’m referring to the video streaming services that are available for the home consumer market today: Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and Blockbuster. Streaming video, for those unfamiliar, allows you to watch a video while it downloads. This was available to computers originally, and has since moved on to include televisions via game consoles and set-top boxes, and mobile phones most recently through YouTube and MySpace among others.

Netflix, Inc.

I’ve read a lot of articles with a lot of opinions on which is better or best, but it seems clear to me there is no one service that works best for everyone and every viewing platform:

  • Not everyone wants to watch video or TV on their computer or mobile phone
  • Not everyone wants to pay $300 for a phone or a box
  • Not everyone watches videos on a regular monthly basis

As Tim Berry at business planning site says, “Not everyone is your customer.”

What Services are there?

Computer Services

For streaming video to your computer you have many choices: Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon’s Video on Demand, iTunes, and CinemaNow among others. Some of these, such as iTunes, aren’t true streaming services since the video must be partially or completely downloaded first in order to be watched, but broadband Internet access is sharply reducing the amount of time one must wait for the video to download.

All you need is some video playing software on your computer in order to watch the videos. Some services use popular pre-existing programs such as Apple’s Quicktime (which is included with iTunes) and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. Some services, such as Amazon’s Video on Demand use their own software. (Amazon has their Unbox Video player software.) Others, such as Google’s YouTube and Hulu from NBC Universal and News Corp. can be watched in your browser.

Some of these services charges have a monthly subscription fee you can use, or you can pay on demand. If you watch videos frequently, they are bound to have a monthly subscription plan that you will find suitable. Otherwise you can expect to pay at least $1.99 or $3.99 per video for on demand service. New releases tend to be harding to get as not all film distributors are willing to make their videos available in this fashion.


Netflix Devices

Netflix Devices

The number of television services are increasing rapidly, but, in my opinion, still has a way to go. Quality is still not dependable from the true streaming services.

For example, Netflix, a perennial favorite, allows you to stream to your computer, and a variety of network media boxes are available which allow you to connect your computer to your television though your home computer network. You also have the option of streaming to a TiVo digital video recorder, a Xbox 360 game console, or a LG BD300 or Samsung’s BD-P2500 or BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players. The video will download at the highest possible speed with the highest possible picture quality, but if there is a increase in demand the picture quality reduces to maintain the download speed necessary to keep the picture moving. A recent increase in usage by Xbox 360 owners caused such an increase in demand that some experienced picture qualities they considered “unwatchable”.

Take control! Get movies on-demand. Watch instantly on your TV at anytime. Learn more.

As with the computer services mentioned earlier, there is either an on-demand fee or a monthly subscription plus the boxes themselves cost upwards of $150 and $250. TIVO has a monthly subscription of about $8 to $12, and Xbox 360 requires a $8 monthly subscription to their Xbox Live Gold service, or a $49 annual fee.

There are other set-top boxes to look at, too, such as Vudu and Roku.

Special Recommendation

Take a look at the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player for accessing Netflix video on demand service. This player sells at Best Buy for $349, but you can get it at Amazon for $290 now.

Mobile Phones



Principal among the mobile phones are the Blackberry and iPhone. These new phones, along with Google G1 phone from T-Mobile, allow you to watch videos from any of the web based services. You laso have the option of storing video files on some of the phones with large storage capability. For example, the iPhone allows you to download videos from the iTunes service. Verizon offers it VCast television service which allows you to watch television programs on your cellphone.

Google G1

Google G1

The phones cost over $179, and then your phone service is about $39 a month (but you already knew that) plus there is a data service fee of $30 per month as well. The data service is needed for either Vcast or Internet access on your Blackberry, G1, or iPhone.

My Issues, Maybe Yours

Many of us watch too much TV, and in many cases too much video. Which is worse?  That all depends on what you watch and who you talk to.  Monthly subscriptions make me feel forced to watch video or feel as though I’m throwing my money away. I was an early adopter of Netflix, among other things, and paid the monthly subscription for a whole year and only watched one video, so that was a $96 rental. Big waste. I’m more of an on-demand video watcher, not an on schedule video watcher. I prefer to be informed over entertained, and when I’m informed I like to be informed honestly and objectively whenever possible.

I also like to have maximum picture quality. I had a laserdisc player, still do, and I have several DVD players. I think some of my laserdiscs look better than some of my DVDs. The engineering quality isn’t always equal. Some manufacturers put a little extra care into the transfer, but streaming video currently has a variable picture quality to account for levels of demand. Some days are better than others. I’m just thinking about digital TV right now. The occasional picture scrambling drives me nuts. We get to look forward to that 24 hours a day when analog TV broadcasts go offline in February 2009.

I hope you’ve found this post informative today. Let me know what you think of streaming video, the different services, and anything related. Or send me a question for a future post.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.