BitRipper is an integrated DVD ripping and conversion program that provides AVI or Mpeg creation from DVDs in a single step.
I’ve been making terrific conversions of DVDs into video files using all freeware tools for a long time, my programs of choice in this regard being AutoGK and more recently Handbrake. Both of these, however, will start processing your files from the DVD/VOB files after the DVD encryption/protection is removed using another, external, program and in most cases after the DVD had been saved (“ripped”) to your hard drive.
What BitRipper offers is an integrated solution that consolidates the ripping and conversion parts into a single process, and then attempts to make it as simple to run as clicking a single button.
BitRipper started life as a commercial product that only recently became freeware. Note that in my evaluating this program I will be implicitly comparing it with Handbrake (mentioned above).
What I like about BitRipper: some cool features
- Decrypts and converts: combines the DVD decryption and conversion processes, so that you no longer have to think of these as two distinct parts requiring different programs. More convenient but also will save you a lot of time and manual involvement with the process.
- Handles any DVD: whether its a normal 4.7 Gig size or a double density 8 Gig+ DVD. “Decryption” mentioned above means that BitRipper will copy most commercial, copy-protected DVDs (includes “3rd party” CSS decryption module. (I am guessing that some very recent DVDs might have protections that it will not be able to decrypt).
- Converts on the fly: i.e. does not save the DVD to your hard drive first and therefore does not require gigabytes of free space on your hard drive to run.
- Installer includes codecs: installing BitRipper will also install a number of codecs that you need to perform a conversion, but the program will also use any codecs that you might have pre-installed on your system. I would advise downloading and using the LAME MP3 codec which provides better audio quality options than the included MP3 codec.
- Simplicity: the program is designed to suggest a simple, 1-click conversion (see screenshot above), where you merely insert a disc and press a button. My experience, however, is that this is the case if you do not want/need to customize the conversion settings, at which point things can become both complex and confusing.
- Ability to convert all parts of a track at once: by this I mean that BitRipper will allow you to select all tracks within a DVD at once. Can be very useful, especially when you want to convert all episodes of a TV series at once into a single AVI.
- Customizable: to a good extent; in terms of quality, resolution, aspect ratio, and output file size. More on this in the “wish list” section below.
- Audio normalization: you can easily raise (and lower, if you like) audio volume from the main conversion interface.
- Performance: is quite fast, although this is somewhat subjective and variable.
- Compression: use the Xvid video and Mp3 audio codecs for high compression.
Wish list: what could have been changed and/or done better
- Only AVI/Mpeg supported: which is good and well, except that many would want to watch DVDs on Ipods/PSPs/Handhelds and support for MP4/M4V would have been a great idea. If you want to convert to Ipod Handbrake can do it for you.
- Quality customization is somewhat confusing: e.g. I’m not sure why there are two bit-rate calculators (the function of both being to tell you what you should set the bitrate of your video to be if you want a certain AVI file size and a certain audio quality). If you dig in you will find that there are profiles and presets aplenty that are not intuitive and somewhat difficult to figure out, and not much by the way of explaining what all of it is about. Rather confusing, esp. for a program that prides itself on its simplicity.
- Aspect ratio: although I am listing this as a liability it could conceivably be considered an asset of sorts. If you set the video height/width such that it is larger in aspect ratio than that of the source (and ask it to preserve the original aspect ratio), the program will insert black colored bands on top and bottom of the visible video. I personally prefer how Handbrake automatically resizes the height of the resulting video in accordance with your desired width and the original’s aspect ratio.
- Batch processing: is not supported, although as mentioned above BitRipper will allow you to convert multiple parts of a track (e.g. episodes in a TV series DVD) into a single AVI. (Again Handbrake can do this).
- Subtitles: do not seem to be supported in BitRipper.
The verdict: this program is fantastic if you (a) do not care to customize your video, inwhich case the default settings used (original aspect ratio, original resolution) will probably work just fine, and you can worry about the file size later on, (b) you value the ability to convert in a single click, without ripping to the hard drive first and messing with other programs, and (c) if you are OK with AVI or Mpeg as the output container.
For myself I (a) require more control over the conversion process, and (b) need to convert to Ipod format, which means I will stick to the combination of Handbrake and DVD43 (which when run together can also deliver the option to convert straight from DVD without ripping to hard drive first). Ironcially I find Handbrake to be the better designed of the two despite BitRipper’s focus on a 1-click conversion. Alternately I would also recommend the combination of RipIt4Me or DVD FAB HD Decrypter, and Handbrake.
Version Tested: 1.31 (018)
Compatibility: tested on XP; no info on Vista.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 1.15 megs).