Ripping DVDs and Set top Box
Co-worker in the office asked a little advice of me, but since I'm not a settop box nor a DVD guy, I don't know all the answers:
Two part Question:
1) What is a good set-top box to recommend? She'd like to physically plug in an external harddrive. Network capability (wireless) would be an asset.
2) What is the easiest way for her (not computer saavy) to rip DVDs and store them on her external harddrive? Some DVDs (like movies) would just need the movie itself ripped. Other DVDs (like an interactive YOGA DVD) would need all the menus and 'extras' of the DVD to remain intact.
Cost is a factor. She's willing to spend a little money, but doesn't want to spend an obscene amount.
What about the ASUS OPLAY? I'm not sure if it will recognize full DVD formats...
Edit #2: She added she may want to surf the web and stream sports channels...what about the Zotac Zbox? It's a little more expensive, but it's got full HTPC capability..
Rip raw mpeg2 with Magic DVD Ripper, convert with autogk or staxrip. For menu preservation I would imagine making a disc image or extracting the video ts folder.
I'm partial to Boxee Box, although I don't browse with it. For streaming mkvs, Netflix and YouTube its great, plus it can be found on Kijiji for $125ish.
I have set up a few O!Plays, its not limited to just them but they have 0 umph. They are slow in menu's and the first few seconds of video is usually no sounds or plays catch up. They also seem to be an ASUS afterthought when it comes to netflix etc. I would advise against them.
To rip DVDs for just their video I would suggest handbrake it works well and outputs decent video quality on their pre sets. speed seems to have improved lately as well, DVDs are under 30 min to encode and blurays are about 2.5 hours on their high pre-sets. Sub titles on some blue rays are a pain in the ass and need more work then she is probably willing to put in just as a word of warning.
For menus ISO is the easiest way to go.
I have been struggling with small media boxes and have decided the only real solution is a real PC, anything else is a compromise in something.
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