RealDVD - copy DVDs to your PC
RealNetworks enters the DVD copying fray with a consumer-friendly solution for copying movies to your hard drive. Their latest software offering, RealDVD, brings usability and attention to simplicity in copying DVDs to your computer. I have yet to try a solution that makes it easier to copy movies. RealDVD requires you to insert the disk and press a single button to copy the full movie, which is then playable from your hard drive. My only complaints about RealDVD are a lack of support for copying files to a portable device (like an iPod or Zune) and the amount of space each DVD takes up. RealDVD is, in effect, a virtual DVD carusel, as it takes the full resolution contents of a DVD movie and transfers them to your hard drive, which means each movie takes up somewhere between 4-9GB of space, depending on the movie. If your aim is to get all your movies quickly accessible from your computer, my suggestion is to invest in a 1TB portable hard drive along with RealDVD, so that you don't hit any space constraints as you're copying movies. I'd also like to see RealNetworks open up the copied files to play back on multiple computers without requiring me to spend an additional $19.99 per computer, but I understand they are attempt to place limits on use in order to remain within the bounds of a fair use scenario.
Advanced users are going to find something like Xilisoft DVD Ripper Ultimate more to their liking, because that app allows for creating portable versions. For simply making an easily navigable catalog of your DVD library on hard disk, RealDVD works quickly and easily. In my first experiment with RealDVD I copied a disk to my drive using my laptop's internal DVD drive. Laptop drives aren't known for being fast, because fast drives tend to drain battery more quickly. RealDVD anticipates potentially slow DVD drives by displaying a tip indicating approximate copy time depending on drive speed. If you have a slow DVD drive, connecting an external drive will save you a bunch of time. [Windows XP/Vista $29.99]