Monday, January 26, 2004
Is that a DVD in your Pocket? DVD to Pocket PC Reviewed
Posted by Anthony Caruana in "SOFTWARE" @ 10:35 AM
<!>DVD to Pocket PC sets out to do what can already be done by a number of other tools. What makes it special is that it does with one tool and a single button push what is usually done by a combination of other tools and lots of messing around. Instead of using an application, like Super DVD Ripper, to extract the DVD movie and then something like Virtual Dub to encode the movie, DVD to Pocket PC rolls all of those function and settings into a very clean interface with a single button. Is it perfect? I think it's pretty good but there are some little things I'd like to addressed.
Once you've downloaded DVD to Pocket PC you'll need to install it. You'll need a computer running Windows XP to do that. According to the Makayama Web site other operating systems are not supported. The installation required just over 12MB for installation and requires that you have the Microsoft Windows Media Player Series 9 Encoder also installed.
If you don't have it, the DVD to Pocket PC installer will prompt you to download and install it.
Finally, your PC will need to have a DVD drive and Codec installed. I use Cyberlink PowerDVD. On the Pocket PC side of things you'll need a device running Windows Mobile 2003 to view movies.
How did I Test
Once installed, DVD to Pocket PC is very easy to use. Although there are a myriad of settings for you to tinker with, you can be up and running a few seconds after starting the software and putting a movie in your DVD drive. For the purposes of this review I used a Region 4 copy of Star Trek First Contact. The movie has a run time of about 104 minutes. My PC is a Celeron 2.4 GHz running Windows XP Professional with 1 GB of RAM and about 25 GB of free disk space.
Let it Rip!
Once the DVD was in the drive, I started DVD to Pocket and hit the single Open button on the screen.
This brought up a selection window so that I could pick which track to rip from the DVD. On a DVD with a single movie this is usually the track with the longest run time.
You'll also notice that the DVD is playing in the application window within the image of the Pocket PC. Even the buttons on the Media Player work! Once you've finished messing around with that you can press the Start button on the screen and DVD to Pocket PC rips the movie from the disk and stores it on your hard drive.
The ripped file is then encoded to work on the Pocket PC.
The entire process took about five hours on my computer and, once started, did not require any intervention from me. During the entire ripping and encoding processes the CPU on my computer was running at close to 100%. Memory use was pretty low. This indicates that the more processing power you throw at this, the faster it will run. The developer recommends running it after a clean reboot, with no other applications running.
The ripped DVD file, prior to encoding was stored to the root of my hard drive and was about 1 GB in size. The final file, converted to run on my Pocket PC from a 256 MB SD card was 208 MB in size. It was stored on the desktop of my PC and was called DVD.wmv. You can then copy the file to your Pocket PC either by using a card reader (recommended) or through Activesync (if you're patient).
While ripping and converting my DVD I did experience one rather annoying piece of behaviour. On a couple of occassions, I just left the software to do its thing while I went out. When I returned a few hours later it had stopped after ripping the DVD and did not start the conversion to Pocket PC format. It seemed to me that DVD to Pocket PC was unable to invoke the Windows Media Player Encoder to do the second half of the process. Fortunately, if this happens, you don't have to start over as there is a menu option (Options | Special) to start from Step 2 of the process.