Article 5: DVD Digital Copies


In the Modern Nerd’s fifth installment, I want to have a look at something that is fairly new in home video, the digital copy. We’ll look at the newer DVD packs, which are sold with a digital copy, and how you can make backups of your older DVD’s using free, intuitive, open source software.


Aren’t all DVD’s Digital?


It’s true, analog media hasn’t been produced since the days of the VCR. However, the industry is fully aware that the home DVD player is not the only place that consumers want to watch their movies. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops provide mobile entertainment for those on the go, whether you are stuck on a train or a plane, or making your road trip just a little bit more awesome. I looked at streaming options to your smartphone in my last entry, so check it out if you want some more information. The digital copy is the official answer to movies on your computer, and I’m happy to say that they’ve made it really easy. If you buy a copy of a new movie on blu-ray you can very easily go to the manufacturer’s site with the code that is included in your purchase, and choose your download. Be sure that the case specifically says "includes Digital Copy" if this is a feature you want to take advantage of. 


Putting the Files on your Devices


The DRM (Digital Rights Management) or the security of these files is still very important. With so much controversy on the internet about piracy, you can rest easy when you get the digital copies of your movies. The files are security-coded to your iTunes account if you choose to download to iTunes, or your Windows Media Player if that is your player of choice. If you have any Apple products you want to download your movies to, then iTunes would be the way to go. If you have different devices, then my best advice would be to head over to Google. Digital copies are very much compatible with other devices, but there is no all-encompassing program that I could point you to with any certainty. The Android marketplace has specialized apps that will play DRM-protected files downloaded for digital copies, based on the studio that published them. If laptops are more your speed for portability, then you have the option to download your movies to up to five different computers to be included in your library with iTunes. File sizes can be quite large, on the order of 1 to 2 gigabytes and up, so make sure that you have the hard drive space to store them if you want to start building your Digital Copy library.

Converting Your Older Movies

Unfortunately digital copies are not available for all of your movies, especially the older DVD’s in your collection.  So naturally, we’ll have to get a little creative. So let’s look at some software that will do the job for you, Handbrake. Handbrake is free, open source software that is available for both PC and Mac. It has a lot of really cool features, including the ability to crop video, choose your file format, and alter the size of your converted videos using the bitrate adjustment. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) makes it easy for newer users to jump right into the action. For the seasoned computer veteran, there is also a CLI (Command Line Interface) to input your commands.

This makes the program ideal for converting those older DVD’s to be played on all of your devices. I personally enjoyed getting The Hunt for Red October onto my iPhone for a long road trip. Just two points to note about Handbrake: This program will not remove digital copy protection from your DVD’s, and currently it does not support Blu-ray discs. For more information, and a link to download Handbrake, you should check out the Wikipedia article by the same title.

As more and more options become available to play your digital movie collection, it’s important to remember that buying DVD’s has not yet become obsolete. Hope you guys enjoyed, and I’ll be back next week.

Aaron Krick
Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer




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