Add a portable Blu-ray player to your Mac (including playback software) for less than a SuperDrive

tl;dr: Buy a $40 Portable USB Blu-ray/DVD-R drive and $30 Blu-ray player MacGo for $10 less than an Apple SuperDrive and you get to watch/rip Blu-ray movies as a bonus.

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With Apple having eliminated optical media from just about every product it makes, including the redesigned iMacs, Mac Minis, and Retina MacBook Pros, many readers will be considering whether they need to procure a separate external DVD reader for emergencies. Some folks store archives, have software installers, backups, or have vast movie collection on DVD – and then there is Blu-ray…

Apple’s remedy is the DVD SuperDrive that costs $79 (well, $70/$50 used if you know where to shop). The SuperDrive is an Apple-quality product and can be used as a boot drive for many Macs that need to be upgraded or repaired via DVD.

But perhaps we can get a little more for our $80?

Steve Jobs viewed Blu-ray as a “bag of hurt” from the “mafia,” and Apple would frankly rather you stick to the iTunes ecosystem for video watching. But there are many nice Blu-ray titles out there, and iTunes’ compressed 1080p content still doesn’t come close the video and sound quality of Blu-ray. So, for those thinking of dropping $80 on a SuperDrive, we think we have a better option:

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Verizon finally launching live TV streaming app to iPad in 2012

Verizon Wireless made 26 of its live FiOS TV channels available for online streaming on the Xbox 360. In a new report, GigaOM had the chance to sit down and talk to a Verizon representative at CES 2012, who said a similar app would be available for the iPad sometime this year. Verizon originally announced the streaming app about a year ago and a half ago, but the company held back from releasing it. Verizon accredits the hesistance to making sure networks have the same reliability as IPTV services so streams do not crash.

Verizon also rolled out a similar app to Samsung’s connected Blu-Ray players and televisions today. The iPad app will presumably be available free to those who subscribe to Verizon’s FiOS TV service. We look forward to seeing the app land sometime later this year. Obviously, this will only be available for paying FiOS customers.

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Netflix spins off by-mail group as Qwikster

Some interesting news from Netflix this morning: They are spinning off their by mail group, which will also include video games and giving it a new name ‘Qwikster’.

While the video below and the announcement blog post set a conciliatory tone for the way the recent changes (price hikes) happened, those changes are still in place and will continue going forward.

In fact, it sounds like Netflix is set to spin off its old mailing business in the future even though in-house Qwikster now sells game rentals as well as movies and TV shows.

The future of video and gaming is clearly streaming and it appears that Netflix doesn’t want to be associated with that entity.

Apple, for what it is worth, has been shunning optical for years, refusing to put Blu-ray optical discs in its Macs or Apple TV products and instead pushing the streaming of media.

Roxio releases Toast 11 for those who still like to burn

I remember when installing Toast was one of the first things I did when I got a new Macintosh.  Now, I don’t even have an optical disc reader on my main computer and I use optical less and less on the home Macs.

However, I know there are a lot of uses of optical still out there and for those folks that create it, Roxio today updated their Toast software to Toast 11 with some important updates.

For existing users, Toast 11 adds many requested features such as recording to multiple drives simultaneously, a streamlined product update mechanism, and the ability to save custom video profiles, which is very useful for those that are often converting video for a particular device. The latest version now also offers built-in features for directly uploading media to social networking sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook and technology optimizations, dubbed VideoBoost, that help dramatically speed H.264 (high definition) video conversion or encoding.

New or exclusive-to-Toast features include: Internet audio recording; the ability to capture, save, and convert Web-based video content; disc spanning (automatically spreading a large amount of data or audio tracks across many discs); one-click backup of HD camcorder footage; dual-platform compatible disc creation; and TiVo-to-Go support.

The boxed package is $99, the Not-App Store download is $79 and a Toast 10 upgrade is $59.  Amazon has it as well.

Also launching today is Roxio Toast 11 Pro. Toast 11 Pro includes everything offered in Toast 11 Titanium as well as the Blu-ray Disc Plug-in and four award-winning digital media applications for making stunning video, photo, and audio projects…. Read more

Steve Jobs upgrades BluRay from ‘Bag of hurt’ to ‘Mafia’ and other rumors

Hardmac reports today some of Steve Jobs’ latest thoughts on BluRay.

He admitted that retrospectively he feels ashamed that Apple’s name is associated to Blu-ray, as he thinks that BD supporting associations look today more like Mafia than anything else.

Jobs famously called BluRay a ‘Bag of Hurt’ during a Q&A after a MacBook Event in 2008.

Concerning authoring on Blu-ray, it seems impossible to provide software supporting such format for consumer market. In addition to DRM, here it is the cost of licenses that slow down the entire process; one would have to start paying 3,000 USD to AACS, then 80,000 USD to Sony, 40,000 USD to Sonic, etc.

Hardmac also reports that the next version of Final Cut Pro will come in March or April 2011, which is what we’ve seen in Jobs emails.

Finally, they say that not everyone is happy with the Xserve axing but they don’t know what comes next.  We’ve heard some things. Read more