Rip and watch movies & TV shows

How to rip DVDs and record TV for on-the-go video entertainment

There are several ways to watch DVD movies and TV shows on the road.

Sling Media sells a commercial product, the Slingbox ($250), that lets you stream television shows over the Internet to wherever you’re located. Macintosh users can buy Elgato’s EyeTV ($330), which works like a computer-based TiVo and records shows in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 format. The Linux-based MythTV captures over-the-air unencrypted television signals (for more, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HDTV-PVR Cookbook). A few mobile devices, such as various Archos players, make it easy to transfer TV shows from a TV set to a handheld device.

If you’d like to rip (or copy) copy-protected DVD movies that you’ve purchased to make your travels easier, you have lots of options. Be warned that this is a grey legal area, given that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF) makes no exceptions for fair use. But as Macworld magazine points out, “you can conserve battery power—and keep your actual DVDs safe—by ripping your movies to your hard drive.”

Ripping programs include:

• PC users have a choice of dozens of different programs such as DVD Decrypter, SmartRipper or many others. (See Doom9.net’s DVD Ripper comparison.)

• For Mac users, the free MacTheRipper program copies DVDs in full fidelity and at full size — roughly 4.5GB per movie. Ripping a DVD typically takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

• If high quality isn’t required, the free, open-source HandBrake will rip a DVD to a smaller, lower-quality file playable by programs such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime Player or MediaCentral (pictured above) for the Mac.

Want to watch the captured video on your hotel room’s TV rather than your laptop screen? Bring along an S-Video or composite video cable, along with an adapter, if you’ve got them.

Sources: Macworld mobile Mac issue, Macworld Mac the Ripper review,

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JD Lasica
Written by JD Lasica
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