There are many reasons DVD and Blu-ray ripping has gotten popular, ranging from backing up scratch-prone discs, easing concerns about decay or decline of the medium, compressing movies for easy viewing on a tablet or phone on the go, or the less legal act of distributing of content to others. The task has gotten harder and harder to do over the years as publishers have learned to encrypt and lock away the disc's contents more and more, preventing the end user from shrinking the files or playing back on unapproved devices.
In a crowded field with other contenders like DVDFab, HandBrake, and MakeMKV, it can be hard to stand out. Each of those offers an interface either so simple a child could use it or so complex you need a degree in multimedia engineering to understand it. Along comes uRexsoft DVD Ripper Platinum v7.1. It manages to combine an easy-to-use front-end while keeping the complexity that power users seek well within reach. Note that the program appears to only work in Windows (at least Win7, 8, and 8.1, both 32- and 64-bit work with the same installer) and is only geared toward DVDs -- there is no mention of Blu-ray ripping functionality on their site. The software also is focused on ripping movies directly to files -- it doesn't make disc ISO images and didn't recognize any PS2 game discs I put in the drive. Lastly, the trial version will only rip the first 15 minutes of any disc, but otherwise appears to be fully functional.
I needed to get better acquainted with the current state of DVD ripping, so I took trial runs in HandBrake and DVDFab with the DVD version of Pixar's Up. I figured if anyone's DRM would stop a ripper dead in its tracks, it would be Disney's. HandBrake (with relatively default settings) spat out a 5.6GB MP4 that wouldn't play back in VLC Media Player or Windows Media Player standard, classic, or cinema editions. Not sure if it was the disc or the settings I gave it, but it was basically a dead-end. Then I tried the same task with DVDFab. It produced a clean 1GB MP4 full movie that played back fine, albeit with the DVDFab watermark throughout, a symptom of it being trial software.
Time for uRex to do its thing. The interface is clean and pretty easy to get around in without a guide. One really handy feature it offers is letting you choose output type by device or manufacturer (Apple, Blackberry, etc.), not just file or codec type. Among the devices listed are:
- Surface Pro and RT (MP4)
- Xbox One (MP4), Xbox (WMV)
- Zune (WMV)
- Google Nexus 7 (MP4)
- Wii (AVI)
- Kindle Fire (MP4)
- PS4, PS3, PSP, PS Vita (all MP4)
- Xperia X8, X10, Z1s, Z Ultra (all MP4)
Available video formats include AVI, MPG, WMV, MKV, MOV, M4V, ASF, DV, 3GP, 3GP2, MTS, M2TS, and WEBM. Ripping just the audio to pretty much any popular format is also supported: MP3, AC3, AAC, WMA, WAV, MKA, OGG, AU, AIFF, FLAC, M4A. The interface will allow you to preview what you're looking to rip beforehand, which is helpful when a disc has multiple tracks (special features, different language tracks, trailers, etc.). The software also tells you on the fly in the interface how big the source and output files are/will be as you make changes to output file types and settings, which is helpful.
While ripping, a progress bar slowly fills over the chapter/title currently being ripped, and thumbnail images appear within the row to show where in the movie the process is currently. It will also show subtitles in the thumbnails if that option is enabled. There is an option to apply different visual filters to the video while it is being ripped/processed.
uRex supports ripping from discs as well as mounted ISOs on virtual disc drives. Rips take about the same amount of time whether it's reading a disc or an ISO, and both methods are equally CPU and memory intensive. The time it takes to complete a task depends very much on the system specs. Resource usage can be throttled in the software's settings, but on Normal, ripping Up averaged using about 70-95% of my eight-core 3.11GHz AMD CPU and 450MB of RAM with an internal Optiarc AD-7200S DVD-RW drive. This rip was estimated at around 55 minutes, but took closer to 30 minutes. Comparatively, ripping the same disc on a laptop from 2006 with a Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, a solid state hard drive, and a Matsushita UJ-842 DVD Writer drive estimated 90 minutes but took closer to an hour. Same resource usage, eating up around 90% CPU throughout. On laptops especially, if your system doesn't cool adequately, this program might heat it up considerably.
It is possible to manually configure the video and audio types, aspect ratios, screen resolutions, and audio bitrates, and save your own custom output profiles, or choose SmartFit and let the program decide for you based on general settings and the source media. It can optionally capture and write subtitles on the video file, as well, using any of the subtitle tracks if finds on the disc.
Overall, my experience using uRex DVD Ripper was pretty positive, but there were some issues that bear mentioning. First, on each of the few movies I tried, there was a tendency by the ripper to clip the last couple of seconds off the tail end of the file (usually the credits at the end of the movie). This might be an issue for purists who want every last frame of a film in their video collection. The interface does have a couple of shortcomings as well, primarily in that it can't be resized or maximized, the word "cancel" is misspelled in all but one spot (usually "Cancle"), one of a few typos spotted, and confirmation dialogs alternate between saying "OK" and "Yes." In particular, "Yes" tends to appear in boxes where it's the only option. Maybe it's me, but when I see "Yes," I expect there to be a choice. When it's just a click-through acceptance dialog, I'm used to seeing "OK." The main program options menu button is up next to the minimize and close buttons, which was unexpected. It's also not possible to specify a filename when starting a rip, only the location to which the output file will be saved. This isn't a huge deal, and I've seen other ripping software do this, too. Finally, there's nothing in the way of an offline help system to get you acquainted with the software. There is a product overview in the software options menu, but that just opens their web page.
Minor issues aside, uRex seemed to do everything it promised and then some, offering good output quality and a range of options, while maintaining an interface that clearly considers its audience but doesn't hamper more savvy users.