Don't want to rip? Online stores sell movies you can download or simply watch online.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Rip your DVDs and watch them on your computer or portable player

Nov. 9, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   As we saw last week, audio CDs are ancient history to the legions of music fans who have ripped their CDs into MP3 files. But another kind of recorded disk is getting the cold shoulder, too. It's the video DVD.
   This seems impossible. Some of us are still getting used to DVDs after years of watching VHS tapes.
   But the technology that lets us listen to music on our iPods also gives us an easy way to watch movies on portable players. All we need to do is rip the movies.
   "Ripping" means extracting the movie and turning it into a file that can be played on your computer or portable player. Ripping software is easy to find, despite the widespread impression that it's illegal. (It's not illegal to copy a movie you already own, as long as you do it for your own use.)
   Don't want to rip? Online stores sell movies you can download or simply watch online.
   Want more evidence of this revolution? You can even watch TV shows online. The major broadcast networks have been streaming some of their shows for many months. If I miss "Grey's Anatomy" when it's broadcast on Thursday night, for example, I can go to ABC's Web site and watch it for free.
   The times, they are achanging. Let's see how this might affect you.
   If you have a lot of movies on DVDs:
   Get DVD ripping software so you can stick a dozen Hollywood films on your laptop for enjoyment on your next trip, or, of course, for viewing on your iPod.
   Windows users can pick from the five best DVD rippers as judged by LifeHacker, at http://lifehacker.com/380702/five-best-dvd-ripping-tools. Mac users have a good ripper in DVDRemaster. I use it exclusively. Get it from www.metakine.com/products/dvdremaster.
   If you want to buy or rent movies from online stores:
   Both Windows and Mac users can patronize these vendors:
   The iTunes Store (for movie downloads), at www.apple.com/itunes.
    Netflix (for streaming video), at www.netflix.com.
    Amazon (for streaming to Macs and Windows PCs, or downloading to Windows) at www.amazon.com/gp/video/ontv/start.
   If you want to watch TV shows online for free:
    ABC shows, at http://abc.go.com.
    NBC shows, at www.nbc.com/Video and at www.hulu.com.
    CBS shows, at www.cbs.com.
   Note that PBS shows are sometimes online. Search via Google for the name of the show. For example, for Nova, go to www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/programs.