While I do not condone the ripping of rented or borrowed DVD’s or sharing ripped discs via bit torrent, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to record a DVD to your computer. Many of us are fans of home theater computers (HTPC) or have computer-based set-top boxes like Boxee or NeoTV that can stream content from different PC’s and servers around our home. That makes getting all of the discs we purchase onto a hard drive to create a sort of video jukebox a worthwhile endeavor.
There are a number of good free apps, such as DVD Shrink, that can do this but, thanks to ever-changing DRM methods, these can’t handle every disc. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a form of copy protection that is used by the movie studios in an effort to prevent their DVD’s from being ripped and pirated. It does absolutely nothing to thwart piracy, but it does cause plenty of problems for legitimate paying customers.
Is it worth your time? Let’s find out!
If you have a large and growing DVD library then you should probably consider investing a little bit of money in a good, well supported and frequently updated DVD ripping tool. There are a couple that I would recommend and one of those is called DVD Ranger. If you aren’t sure you need it then you can get a free seven day trial to see what you think.
When you boot up DVD Ranger you will be greeted with an interface that is fairly simple. There are seven tabs across the top and the app opens to the “TV” tab by default. That is where you will most likely want to work from because, in most cases, we are ripping discs for viewing on the big screen.
However, if you are looking to make the resulting video specifically for another type of device then you have a large number of options available. These include:
- Mobile – options include iPod, Blackberry, Creative Zen, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung, Windows Phone and more.
- Tablet – iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Archos, Blackberry, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung and more
In this case, I am converting the inserted DVD to a format that will be best for my HTPC, which is hooked to a large screen TV and an audio-video receiver.
For this, there are several options in the drop-down menu, including Apple TV, HD, Xvid, Blue-Ray and DVD. I am using HD and, again, there are more options here for screen resolution. Let’s use standard 720p and 128 kbps.
Now that all of our choices for video quality and format have been made we can move on to selecting the video source. There is only one DVD drive here and when it is clicked from the drop-down menu the disc immediately begins to be analyzed. Note that if you insert the disc after launching DVD Ranger you should get an automatic pop-up message telling you a disc has been found and asking if you would like to copy it.
Once the disc is scanned you will have to choose which files to rip — in this case one was 1:52:34 and the other 0:07:55, so it wasn’t hard to spot which was the actual movie.
Now click the large green button at the top right of the window to begin ripping the disc. Depending on the format and quality of your chosen video output, this could take a little while. In this case, using the options I listed above, the disc took about 40 minutes to be recorded.
The resulting file was 906 MB in size and, by default, is simply named DVDRanger.mp4 and is stored in a newly created folder in MyVideos which is also called DVD Ranger. More on those option in the next section.
There is, of course, the requisite menu bar across the top of the window, but it doesn’t contain a tremendous amount of options. You can’t “skin” the interface (unless you count changing between “blue” and “black”) or make changes and additions to menu bar items. But, remember this is a utility more than anything else. So, what do you get?
“File” is pretty basic, but “Edit” allows you to change region codes and access the “Settings” screen. From Settings you can make minor changes such as the aforementioned skin color choices, what processes occur after a disc burn, make changes to audio settings and more.
The “Extras” menu allows you to download YouTube videos (you will need to input the URL), enter into DVD authoring and Blue-Ray authoring.
“Burn” lets you choose from a video disc, Blue-Ray disc or data disc. You can also erase a disc from here, but that is only possible if the disc is an RW (re-writable) format.
“Info” provides most of the usual information you expect to find about any program — help, upgrade, register, about and a few more options as well.
DVD Ranger is not free, and it’s not even are particularly cheap at $49.99. However, it is not any more expensive than it’s strongest competitor, AnyDVD (49.00 EUR). If you rip a DVD every once in a while then that price may be a bit steep. If you have an existing large collection, especially one that is continuing to grow, then the price may not seem so steep for the functionality and simplicity of use that you get in this app.
In the end it comes down to your needs, your budget and what you feel comfortable with. The software is certainly worth the money, providing the need is there. If it isn’t then I recommend looking at the numerous free alternatives on the market.