In case I haven’t bored you enough by mentioning it, I do a lot of travel. Three-four times per month, I fly between my family in Austin, and my job in Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m not complaining–at least I’ve got a job!–but it does leave me with a lot of time on my own waiting. Waiting for planes to board, planes to get where they’re going, trains to arrive, trains to get where they’re going, etc. And so I spend a lot of time watching movies and TV shows on my iPhone and laptop.
Which is fine–despite what James Cameron says about it–but does leave you with the problem of conversion. You buy a movie or a TV series on DVD, and want to watch it on your iPhone. So you need to convert.
For a long time, I converted using freeware–ripping entire DVDs to my desktop with tools like RipItForMe or DVDShrink, and then converting with Handbrake or Videora. But eventually I bumped into some DRM code that Shrink couldn’t deal with, and moved on to a paid coverter (DVDFab), which I quite like. Still ripping from the DVD and then converting, however.
All this is just background so that you are aware I have a little experience in the whole “How do I get this confounded movie/TV show on my iPhone?” experience. So when Judie asked if anyone was interested in trying out some new conversion/ripping software, I grabbed it.
Here’s what Daniusoft has to say about their converter software:
Daniusoft Media Converter Ultimate is a massive working platform which cuts in the scope of multimedia decoding & encoding, legitimate copyright circumventing, DVD decrypting & authoring, and media file transferring for personal use.“Ultimate” means — up to 5+ independent function units, like DRM Removal; DVD Ripper; DVD burner; Media Converter; Media transfer .etc are geared on a single board. Slimmer file size while faster conversion speed.With this multimedia processing Titan, you can remove DRM copy protection from WMV WMA, iTunes M4P M4A M4V AAC M4B ASF, etc, Napster, Rhapsody, Bearshare, ruckus, BBC iPlayer downloaded WMV files, Audible audiobook .AA, ect protected Music Video files, Rip DVD to most popular video formats, Convert Video Music between different files, burn movie to DVD disc, directly transfer songs & video to your portable players like iPod, iPhone, PSP, Cell Phone, etc, an easy access to a simple yet convenient digital entertainment life is no more a dream.
As a reviewer, I didn’t purchase the CDs for this software; I simply downloaded and entered the unlock code given me by the Daniusoft folks, so I can’t speak to the whole unboxing/installing issue. If you end up buying the software the “usual way,” please let us know how that phase of product use goes for you in the comments section below.
The Ultimate is a complex piece of software, clearly designed for maximum flexibility. You can convert straight from DVDs, or from files or folders on your system. You can convert to a multiple number of formats. The Ultimate has a number of presets available for output; you can set it up to optimize for your iPhone, or an iPod, or other kinds of devices, so that you (theoretically–I only tested it for the iPhone and laptop) have output optimized the way you like it. Further, you can tweak the various pre-sets, or make up your own, if you have certain preferences (“I want AVI output, darn it!”). This software is hugely flexible, and if you want to convert from one format to another, or rip, or copy, this app will almost certainly do it for you.
The downside to all that flexibility is that it makes for a complicated, and sometimes difficult to navigate, interface. Do I think that Daniusoft could have improved the design and made it easier to use? Maybe. But here’s the thing that I’ve found with conversion applications, ripping fans: if you want power and flexibility, you have to live with a certain amount of complexity in your interface. The DIVX folks came out with a converter that had an incredibly simple interface . . . and I never, ever got it to work right. Goes to show.
So I am absolutely not downgrading the Ultimate for its complexity; I’m just letting you know that this is not a go-cart, here; it’s a complex piece of software that will take you a bit of time to get used to. A lot of time? No. More time than, I dunno, DVDFab, or something? No. So there you have it.
Speedwise, again, the Ultimate seems neither faster nor slower than other conversion software that I’ve used. Conversion times depend primarily on your processing power and the speed of your DVD drive, rather than the software–crunching VOB files into MPEG4 takes time, no matter how you slice it.
There were two issues that I had with the Ultimate. The first is a feature that wasn’t included: you can’t do chapter breaks. So if you convert a movie (or TV show), and that film has chapter breaks, those breaks are not written into the output file. While I personally find this an annoying lack, I’m sure that there are plenty of folks who simply won’t care.
The other issue is more problematic: if your iPhone is plugged in when you fire up and run Ultimate, your video files are . . . well, there’s no delicate way to put this: erased. This happened to me consistently, and is (in my view) a definite bug. Daniusoft has released an updated version of their software since I started using it, but since I carry around about 10 Gb worth of movies and TV shows most of the time, I’ve been too chicken to see whether the bug is still there or not.
On the plus side, when it came to ripping DVDs that had multiple files–DVDs for TV shows, for example–this is a great piece of software. It cues them up and knocks them down easily, the default being that everything is read and converted. I found this a huge boon when it came to ripping TV shows.
Overall, I liked this software and would recommend it for folks who aren’t intimidated by slightly-complex user interfaces, who don’t need chapter breaks, and who do a lot of conversion. (As this is the “Ultimate” level of the product, I would hope that folks expect a little complexity, however!)
I also think it’s the perfect tool, pretty much, if you’re converting TV shows, which typically come with multiple episodes per disk–for that kind of thing, honestly, it’s almost perfect, so long as you disable the iPhone option.
What I liked: flexible, powerful, performs queuing, makes ripping DVDs with multiple episodes easy
What needs improvement: Somewhat confusing interface at first; no way to include chapter breaks; the iTunes/iPhone problem with deleting files
MSRP: the Media Converter Ultimate is available from Daniusoft for $59.95