Tag Archives | piracy

When is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Going to be Released in Vietnam? Apparently Never.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the newest Harry Potter movie (phim Harry Potter 7, part 2) won’t be coming to Vietnam (Viet Nam). At all. Although Deathly Hallows Part 2 was being promoted in Vietnam as recently as last month, I’ve heard from friends that Warner Brothers has terminated its movie distribution agreement with Galaxy doesn’t want to release its movies in Vietnam. This effects not only the new Harry Potter, which was due to be released in two weeks, but all of its other movies such as Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and Blake (she so) Lively.

This is why I noticed recently that all references to the new Harry Potter movie had been removed from Megastar’s website.

While Warner certainly considers China to be a serious market, for whatever reason, Vietnam isn’t worth consideration despite the proven and growing successes of local operations such as Galaxy and Megastar. Big movies from other companies have done well enough in Vietnam, and Harry Potter has a huge fan base here, so I can’t imagine why something can’t be worked out.

Thus our options for the final chapter seem to be 1) (piracy) download a CAM version when it comes out in July 2) (piracy) purchase a higher-quality bootleg copy of the real DVD in 6 months 3) (yeah, right) go overseas to watch it 4) read the book and watch the trailer (below) to imagine the movie in your mind.

Thanks Warner Brothers! I can’t wait for Warner Brothers to complain about Piracy in the SE Asia region.

Poop.

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Buying Blu-Ray (HD) Movies in Vietnam [More on Piracy]

Blu-Ray Disc logo 

Image via Wikipedia

(Other related articles: How to be a Digital Pirate in Vietnam, My Torrent Guide for You, The Escapist : Sony Invades Vietnam with PlayStations)

Today, I want to share about the world of network media tanks, getting HD-quality movies on the cheap, and how to make this all happen. I won’t talk too much about the situation of piracy, having discussed those in detail in other articles. I also won’t get too technical about the discussion, just what 99% of the people reading this need to know to get things done.

The lowdown: getting HD movies in Vietnam can be quite affordable. Will these movies be the exact same quality as buying a Blu-Ray disc in the US? No. But pretty close for most concerning eyes (if you’re reading this article here of all places, you probably cannot tell the difference. I don’t even know if I can, for that matter, and I have a HD Player and Movies for my Xbox 360)

Getting movies basically gets down to getting a player for them (media tank), the movies (movie copy service), and of course, the TV.

Buying Movies:

3 Steps:

  1. Buy a Media Tank
  2. Buy a Hard Drive to Attach to Media Tank
  3. Buy Movies

Step 1, Buy a Media Tank:

A media tank is like a DVD Player or VCR. You connect it to your TV and it has the ability to play media. I have a WD TV hooked up to a Seagate 1.5 TB Drive. If you want to know more scroll to the bottom of post.

For a full list of Media Tanks available at Halo Shop in Saigon, see here: Media Tank List, Halo Shop. I generally recommend them for any purchases. They can speak English and they’re not so full of BS so you can take their advice for an easier process.

If you’re from Hanoi, sorry, I don’t know of any places in Hanoi, though I’m sure they exist- ask a local Home Theater shop, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

A few more notes: Don’t bother getting HD movies unless you have an HDTV. There will be no benefit. Also, use an HDMI cable to connect the Media Tank to the HD TV. HDMI Cables should cost less than $10 USD- don’t be tricked into paying more. Lastly, if you’re not going to hook up a 5.1 (or 7.1/8.1/etc.) sound system to your TV, you should make sure the audio will be ok if you connect the Media Tank to your TV. Just ask “Can I use this Media Tank with my TV speakers?” With the WD TV, this isn’t a problem unless you are playing DTS movies, but scroll to the end of this post for more on that.

Step 2, Buy a Hard Drive to Attach to Media Tank:

You can buy these anywhere. I would suggest getting a package deal when you get your Media Tank, minimum 1TB Hard Drive, get 2TB if you can afford it. Remember, movies are 5-10 GB each, so a 1TB Hard Drive will store only 200 movies. Tank + Hard Drive may cost $400 to $500 depending on what you buy. Sounds expensive, but the movies themselves are extremely cheap.

Step 3, Buy Movies:

imageThere are basically 3 types of content: 480P (DVD quality), 720P (Hi Def), and 1080P (Bad ass Hi Def). You, for practical purposes, want 720P content. If you really think you need 1080P, read the section about buying a TV below. I do have a 32” 1080P TV, but I also sit less than 3 feet away from it.

One other thing to consider is that not that many movies are available in 1080P here, so not necessarily worth the extra cash.

There are two places that I consider:

  1. ChepPhim.Net: 199/19 Duong (Street) 3/2 F11 District 10, TPHCM. Movie List, ChepPhim.Net
  2. Halo Shop: 82 Pasteur, District 1, TPHCM. Movie List, Halo Shop

ChepPhim.net is cheap, fast, and has much more content available compared to Halo Shop. You can get 1TB copied for about $10 USD in less than two days. They update their movie list about twice a month and even have TV sets like Lost and Prison Break.

Buying a TV and Home Audio:

TV:

image I’ll make this simple- get a 720P TV. If you really think you may want a 1080P, read this article first: 1080p Does Matter – Here’s When (Screen Size vs. Viewing Distance vs. Resolution). If you have a family or plan to share the TV with someone else, unless you are just rich, get a 720P. A bonus about having a 1080P TV, though, is that you can use it as a 1920 x 1080 PC monitor.

For the record, I have a 32” 1080P from LG, and like I said before, I have to sit less than 3 feet away from it to take full advantage of 1080p movies, of which there are few. Most video games also max out at 720P.

Retailers:

Home Audio:

This one’s a bit tougher. I can’t really help here in terms of where to buy in Vietnam or what to buy. Try HD Vietnam if you can read Vietnamese. Otherwise, stick with the stereo TV speakers.

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About the Western Digital WD TV: [Quick Review and Tips]

I have the WD TV, the original version.

imageSome notes on it:

  • It’s cheap. I expect the original can be had for about $100 USD now in Vietnam. I don’t think the WD TV is sold at Halo Shop anymore.
  • Supports most video formats, but surprisingly, not .FLV or .WMV. I don’t use it for audio or pictures.
  • Overall, it’s okay. Not great. But a solid value for $100. The HDMI connection on mine is a bit loose, so sometimes there’s no signal, and the remote can be frustratingly spotty. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the machine won’t turn on or off, even when the remove is right next to the sensor. Once the machine starts recognizing the remote that particular day, everything is great.
  • Getting the new version (Western Digital WD TV Live Network-ready HD Media Player) or the original (WD TV Live) is fine for most purposes. The 2 main additions in the WD TV Live are 1) DTS support and 2) Networking support. Networking support means you can hook it up to another computer and stream stuff rather than have to connect a Hard Drive to it. The DTS support, for me, is a bit more important, because many movies that I’ve purchased here are DTS-only and therefore result in no audio when using the original WD TV. There is a fix – you’ll need this to convert those movies with the PopCorn MKV AudioConverter (along with Tutorial for converting audio tracks with HeartWare MKV Audio Converter).
  • There’s an issue with some 1080P movies on the WD TV with movies that have too many Reference (Ref) frames. This is where we get a bit technical. If you run into this issue, you’ll have to re-encode the entire movie, which is a two day process. If you get a 1080P movie that seems to stutter, try to find a 720P version. Or get a different media tank. If you really need help with this, you can find the solution on forums online. My hint: I used a combination of MediaInfo and RipBot264 to fix The Dark Knight. I haven’t fixed any other movies yet.

Links:

  • Official Firmware: WD TV Product Update – you can probably ask whomever you buy this from to install it for you if you are non-technical, but it also isn’t so difficult.
  • Unofficial Firmware: B-RAD (Don’t worry about using this unless you want to spend a lot of time on techie stuff. A note about the unofficial firmware is that I still can’t it to work right with all the extra functionality people have developed for it)
  • More talk about Firmware and Stuff: WDTV Forum Homebrew / Custom Firmware

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Sorry if this post got a bit crazy, but hopefully it’s useful to someone out there. If you have any questions or want to send in your own recommendations and tips, please leave a comment!

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The Escapist : Sony Invades Vietnam with PlayStations

New Logo of the PlayStation 3 after the relaun...

Image via Wikipedia

The Escapist : News : Sony Invades Vietnam with PlayStations

This reminds me of Sony trying to sell legit DVDs and Blu-Rays in Vietnam. Sony is trying to sell Blu-Rays for the normal full price in the US (Over $30 USD per movie) in a country where you can have 2TB of HD-quality Movies (average movie is 5GB, so that’s 400 movies!) transferred to a hard drive for less than $20 USD.

So, unsurprisingly, it’s already cheaper to buy imported Sony game consoles than waiting for the “officially authorized” machines.

Ho Chi Minh City (TPHCM/Saigon), Halo Shop:

  • Playstation 3: 6,750,000 VND ($360 USD compared to $532.57 from Sony)
  • Playstation 2: 3,200,000 VND (longer, full coverage warranty from shop) / 2,700,000 VND ($172 or $145 compared to $239.37 from Sony)
  • Playstation Portable: 5,000,000 VND (longer, full coverage warranty from shop) / 4,600,000 VND ($270 or $194 compared to $319.33 from Sony))

Hanoi, XGame:

  • Playstation 3: 6.499.000 VND ($350 USD compared to $532.57 from Sony)
  • Playstation 2: 2.499.000 VND ($134 USD compared to $239.37 from Sony)
  • Playstation Portable: 3.899.000 VND – 4.099.000 VND (colors) ($210 – $216 compared to $319.33 from Sony)

A friend made the point that people will pay more for officially authorized products, for support and warranty reasons. This is possible, however:

  • You’re looking at 50-80% premiums from buying something new (gray market imported from another country) for the same thing, also new, just officially authorized.
  • You cannot pirate games for the PS3, so you would be buying real games and therefore, a warranty claim is legit. However, if you have a PSP or PS2, there is no one here, absolutely no one, who is buying legitimate software for those consoles. So if you’re hacking your console, you will have invalidated your warranty anyway. Even rich people (I know of some) will just pirate- and why wouldn’t you?
  • The most popular, trustworthy shops who are selling these modded systems and pirated software also do repairs themselves, and are quite experienced at it.
  • Sony sells authorized DVDs and Blu-Rays, but they’re extremely difficult to find, either in terms of information online, and in shops. I only know of one place that sells them here, and I just saw them by chance. Sony obviously won’t let a Halo Shop or XGame sell authorized consoles next to imported ones and pirated game discs, so where are you going to find these systems?
  • If they’re selling games, they’re going to sell non-localized games? Most Vietnamese do not read or understand spoken English that well (couldn’t handle a Final Fantasy game, for example), so non-localized games makes the value of buying legit even lower.

The reason why XBox’s and Wii’s are not officially sold here is because you can easily pirates games for those two systems. Microsoft (maybe not at this point in the product cycle, I guess) takes a loss on each system sold, trying to make it back through software, so if all software is pirated, not such a big reason to sell it officially here. I don’t even know of any places to buy legitimate 360 software. The Wii is profitable on the hardware, but overall, Vietnam is not such a big market for video games (consoles) as it is for PC games, in which companies make money off online games in which they can restrict piracy.

PC games are much more accessible to the normal Vietnamese youngster because the cost to play is so much lower. Players can rent a seat at an Internet cafe and play free games, paying only for microtransactions while a console + accessories investment is well over an average Vietnamese monthly income, perhaps even double the monthly income.

Sony Invades Vietnam with PlayStations

Greg Tito posted on 20 January 2010 1:09 am

image

Sony announced that it is now selling its PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 and 3 consoles in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

As of January 16th, 2010, citizens of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be able to purchase Sony videogame consoles in their country. Vietnam is now the eighth Asian nation in which Sony sells its videogame hardware. PlayStation Portable is 5,990,000 Vietnamese Dong or US $319.33. The PlayStation 2 will retail for 4,490,000 Vietnamese Dong (US $239.37), while the PlayStation 3 is being sold for 9,990,000 Dong ($532.57). Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of Dong.

The PlayStation 3 model being sold in Vietnam is the “slim” model with a 120gb hard drive which was released last year. “While inheriting the sleek curved body design of the original model,” Sony said. “The form factor of the new PS3 system features a new meticulous design with textured surface finish, giving an all new impression and a casual look.”

Previously, if you wanted a PlayStation in Vietnam, you were forced to import it yourself. There is no mention as to why Sony did not sell its consoles in the country before, or why the sales are now allowed in the Socialist nation.

The Escapist : News : Sony Invades Vietnam with PlayStations

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine [REVIEW - Spoiler Free]

x_men_origins_wolverine_posterIf you’re not aware, the big news regarding the piracy scene and movie industry lately was the Internet release of an early workprint of Wolverine, which won’t be released in US theaters until May. The workprint’s basically close to DVD quality, but missing some effects, perhaps 15 minutes of footage, and doesn’t have its own music in there- I read a comment on VCD Quality that said the music was taken from Transformers and is in there as a placeholder, a common practice for works in progress.

As someone’s already been fired for reviewing this, I don’t want to stress how much of a pirate I am, but I will say that I did argue whether I should download it. I had read an article a couple of weeks ago that discussed Gabe Newell’s (he’s the head guy at Valve, makers of the Half-Life franchise and the Steam gaming service) thoughts on piracy, and he felt that a lot of piracy comes from people just not being able to get what they want when they want it. An example he gave was with regional releases- if you’re in the UK, you might have to wait an extra few months for its official release (even if you’re willing to pay) there when you could just pirate the US release right now.

This is what influenced my decision. I didn’t know if I was so into viewing a unfinished version, but then I looked at Megastar’s release calendar, and you don’t see Wolverine listed at all (movies are often listed 2-4 months in advance, so it’s not that Megastar lists later). Some movies come to Vietnam theaters quite quickly; Watchmen came here one week after the US release. But others take quite a while; Dark Knight came 6 weeks after the US release, and Slumdog Millionaire is finally coming here at the end of April, over 4 months after I watched it in the US, 5 months after it was first released in the US, and 1 month after it will have been released on DVD. And a good quality bootleg of that has been available since January, thus greatly negating the motivation for moviegoers here to want to wait it out.

Taking those into consideration, and some positive impressions of the workprint I’d read, I decided to check it out.

I liked it. Wolverine really surprised me, and this is coming from someone who had no particular inclination to go watch it before this. I really thought it would be a dud.

I don’t want to go into extensive details or give you my rating for it, since it wasn’t a final version, but here are some notes:

  • The music, even if it was taken from Transformers, fit the movie well enough. Wasn’t a problem. So I imagine the final version with the real music will be good.
  • Intro parts of the movie to introduce the character were very well done.
  • Liev Shreiber as Victor Creed was a great character. He’s fleshed out well here, while in the comics and cartoon, I tend to think of him more as a dumb Wolverine knockoff.
  • It’s cool to see the partly finished special effects. You can learn a little bit more about how movies are made. I know that some movies have released green screen versions of their movies (Sin City), but maybe this is something more and more action movies should consider doing.
  • The plot is much more complete and well thought out than I was expecting. It made me want to rewatch X-Men and think about how this all connects, and there are a lot of appearances from other comic characters.There’s also an emotional depth that I think is deeper than in any of the X-Men movies.

Knowing that this version isn’t complete and there’s potentially more footage actually excites me. Instead of watching this and thinking, well, I’ve already seen it, no need to see it in theaters, I think of this version as more of an extended trailer. So while before this pirate release, I really wasn’t interested in the movie, now I definitely want to see it whenever it comes out to Vietnam. Will go invite the team at work as well, I think they’d really enjoy it.

See the official trailer below:

Update, May 18, 2009: Ended up seeing Wolverine in its premiere weekend at Vincom in Hanoi. Since I originally posted this, I, like Jin and [[Tu]], now believe the leak may have been a PR hoax. Of course, I am not sure why (why release an almost-final version instead of a half finished version with promise) or how they could get away with such a thing (think of their partners), but Wolverine has done pretty well at the box office, so maybe it was quite brilliant. The ironic thing is that Fox initially said that the leaked movie was quite different from the final one, and that’s what made me see it, knowing I could see an even better version once it came out to theaters. The reality is, the two versions are essentially identical. I wasn’t going to see it in theates once I found this out, but ended up giving up my money when I was hanging out with a friend in Hanoi, and there was nothing else decent we could see. In the end, I did like the movie- I gave it a 7/10

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My Torrent Guide for You

Yes, as I have said before, I am a digital pirate.

I won’t try to defend myself. In some ways and interpretations, it’s stealing, and I admit to it. At the same time, I do buy stuff, though much less so since I’ve moved to Vietnam and been surrounded by piracy along with more limited work wages. But still, if you take any machine that I have, whether it be game console like the XBox 360, or DVD player, I guarantee that I have bought at least the average amount (also called the “attach rate”) that a customer will buy for that machine, and most of the time, much more so. I’ve bought many games, dvds, and even music cds that I never opened or played.

Torrents do have its more “gray” uses, though. Like watching basketball when it is impossible to do so in your country (Vietnam). Or checking out old tv shows or games that aren’t really sold anymore. Moving on….

Torrents, What are and How to:

A torrent is basically a file that points to other files. Almost like a map. If you download a torrent, you actually haven’t downloaded anything, just directions to some files. You actually need something that can figure out how to read those directions, like uTorrent.

Download µTorrent – Powerful BitTorrent Client

utorrent

If you’ve ever downloaded files with your browser, think of uTorrent as a download manager for torrent files. It knows how to find all the files you want. I don’t want to get too detailed on how to set it up, but here are some general tips once you’ve installed it.

Setting a download location:

utorrent003

Once you have uTorrent installed, go to the menu bar (up top), click on Options and then Preferences. (You can also click Ctrl-P).

utorrent004

Under directories, choose a location for your files (this is where the actual files will be stored. Remember this directory. Click OK to save.

Back to the uTorrent interface, look at the bottom, right:

utorrent005

You will find some funny numbers with D: and U:

D: means your download rate, U: means your upload rate. Normally, if you don’t change these settings, uTorrent will use all your bandwidth, which could upset your housemates, wife, etc., and interfere with normal internet usage. You can adjust these by right clicking on the D: to adjust the download rate (I suggest 10-20 kB/s) and then U: for the upload (match the download rate if possible).

Oops, one more thing. When you download torrent files from your browser, make sure when you get prompted if you want to download or open them, open them. Downloading them will do nothing, so open them like I show you below. If you have uTorrent installed, uTorrent will automatically handle it for you from there.

utorrent006

Torrents, Where to find:

Here are my recommendations, the sites I use:

General/Everything:

From movies to music to ebooks to games to tv shows. If you’re looking for movies try axxo or klaxxon in the search- results with those tend to be legit. The Pirate Bay is likely the most famous torrent site out there, but I much prefer Mininova and BtJunkie. You can also try Demonoid, but it’s not easy to get an account there.

Anime:

Comics:

Games:

Sports:

Other:

Last Notes:

Since many torrents link to files that are considered piracy or illegal, you do have to think about whether you’re ok with that. Depending on where you live, there may be repercussions. Mike, for examples, does not torrent anymore now that the various industries have started suing users. If you want to make sure there’s no chance of legal consequences, just don’t torrent. Simple.

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