First we saw music hit the digital age, now we are seeing movies go digital. Unfortunately, most of us still have a rather large DVD collection, and while it is popular for Blu-Ray discs to come with a digital copy, most DVDs don't. In fact, most DVDs are bogged down with copy protection, making it difficult to copy the DVD to the iPad. In order to convert a DVD to an iPad-compatible format, you will need a program that can overcome these issues.
Luckily, there are some good choices available for doing the job that aren't too difficult to use. Because the DVD must be copied to your PC first, you will need to know your way around your file system. But these programs will be able to convert most DVDs to your iPad, and best of all, they are free.
First, you will need a program to copy the DVD to your PC. These programs are called DVD rippers, and if you search Google, you can easily get overwhelmed by the options. Most of these programs cost anywhere from few dollars to $20-$30, but some of the best are actually free. Here are a few that should do the trick:
- DVD Shrink. This DVD ripper hasn't been updated in years and the website is now defunct, but it is still one of the best tools for copying a DVD to the iPad. It also compresses the video and allows you to strip out extras like deleted scenes and multiple language support.
- DVD Decrypter. DVD Shrink is great, but it can stumble over some of the newer copy protection schemes. DVD Decrypter isn't perfect, but it can help convert DVDs that DVD Shrink fails to copy to your PC. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the compression and ability to strip out extras.
- Mac the Ripper. If you have a Mac, you will want to use Mac the Ripper. Like DVD Shrink and DVD Decrypter, it does a great job of copying the DVD to your PC where you will be able to convert it to an iPad-compatible file.
Next, you need a program that can take the DVD files and convert them into a format that can be read by your iPad. Luckily, the best program for doing this very thing happens to be completely free.
- HandBrake. HandBrake not only converts the DVD to an MP4 file, it also comes with presets to optimize the DVD for your iPad. You can also optimize it for your iPhone, AppleTV or other formats. You can even tinker with it to create your own specific format for the video, such as cropping it more towards the top of the screen or using a different video codec. Note: The one deficit of HandBrake is the time it can take to work its magic. Don't be surprised to see an estimate of 1-2 hours for it to finish the job.
That's it. Once you've copied the DVD to your PC and converted it to an iPad-compatible file, you are ready to go. You can load the DVD into iTunes and use Home Sharing to stream it to your iPad or simply sync the file itself to your iPad.