A Real Review of RealDVD

Finally, a way to copy DVDs that's clearly legal--and pretty darn easy.

By  |  Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 6:42 am

This sneakernet approach to movie sharing worked as advertised in my tests. (I used it watch movies, in very slightly jerky form, on an HP Mini-Note that had no DVD drive.) But it’s the most disappointing thing about RealDVD–the ability to store a wealth of movies on a networked drive and stream them around the house at will would have been far cooler.


This software lets you copy DVDs easily and legally; supports Windows PCs only; sharing among multiple PCs only via USB drives; categorization data is spotty and can’t be edited.

Price: $30

Real’s RealDVD site (software available late September)

The copying limitations also limit how comprehensive and permanent your DVD archive can be. Even if you devoted a terabyte hard drive to movies, you could only store around 160 of ’em. And if you save your movies on a PC’s internal drive, the whole darn collection is forever associated with that machine; buy a new computer, and you’ll have to copy your DVDs all over again.

For all these reasons, I can’t see anyone using RealDVD to do what many of us have done with our music: rip gigantic collections to at least semi-permanent digital collections we keep even as the PCs and other devices in our lives change. This software is better suited to lighter use–saving a handful of favorite movies onto a desktop (or living room PC) or loading a complete season of a TV show onto a laptop before you hit the road.

I’d love to see Real support network drives somehow, and release a Mac version  of the software; the company told me it hopes to do both. It should also permit editing of category fields, so users can get them right when Gracenote doesn’t. (I’m not asking for copying of DVDs to mobile devices because I don’t see any way to do it in a way that would be both kosher and pleasing.) But for PC-based watching, even this first version of RealDVD does the job–and does it in a much more straightforward fashion than any alternative I know of.

And hey, did I mention that it’s legal?



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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Rob Walley Says:

    It’s far easier to decrypt and recode your DVDs into a mpeg 4 format, pile hundred of titles onto an external drive and move the drive around or network it. A free copy of DVD 43 will decrypt and Nero’s excellent recoder will do the trick. I can run all 251 episodes of M*A*S*H from my office computer over the network, to my living room media center and onto my 60 inch wide screen, in chronological sequence and then repeat them endlessly for days on end. The picture and sound are perfect in mpeg4 and took less than 100 gb on my external HD. When I go on trips or vacation, I pack up the HD and plug it in to a laptop (or any multitude of HD supporting devices) and I’m set. External HD costs are extremely low and some units are smaller that iPods. The legality of this method is of course questionable, but I am ripping my own purchased DVDs for my own use, not unlike taking the DVDs and playing them on different players around my home or on the road. My method is elegant and useful.

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