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Watch you DVDs and Blu-rays
In the age of all of these steaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime I never seem to find the one service that gives me all of my favourite movies with one subscriptions.
Before Netflix was a thing, I accumulated a lot of DVDs and Blu-rays and they just have been collecting dust, nowadays with a toddler around my DVDs risk to be scratched or even worse broken.
First you will need a DVD player to connect to your computer.
Afterwards you will need some specialised software to create a digital copy on your computer (ripping), after that you have two options:
Create a media server and stream your movies to your Ipad or convert your files to an .mp4 format add sync them to iTunes.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through how I watch my physical collection on my Ipad with my media server of choice Plex.
Why not just buy from the iTunes Store ?
The iTunes Store is the easiest option but I still find them quite expensive and purchasing movies and tv shows that I already own didn’t feel right to me, don’t get me wrong I have the odd movie from ITunes that I wanted to rent or watch on the fly but later I regretted the purchase for the following reasons:
- You are tied into the Apple ecosystem, I do love apple but if I wanted to watch my content on my Smart TV or Android or Windows PC I’m not able to so.
- Multiple languages, I live in a bilingual household and many movies don’t have additional languages apart from English.
- Digital content is still expensive and not as high quality as physical media in my opinion.
- You have to be connected to the Internet and you need a good broadband connection with decent bandwidth.
What you will need to do it yourself
- Blu-ray Drive– This will be used to read your DVDs and Blu-rays.
- Make MKV– Software used to decrypt the disk and save a copy.
- Handbrake – This is optional to convert files into MP4 (for iTunes).
- Hard disk space (this will depend on the number of disks you have.
- Computer to install Plex media server.
Convert DVDs to digital format
You can use an internal optical disk or you can purchase an external disk, check the compatibility with your operating system.
Insert your disk into the drive and start your software of choice to start the process.
My tool of choice is Make MKV which is in beta (software lingo for public testing). You can use the software for 30 days and then a licence costs around £ 55.
MKV has a very simple interface, once inserted the disk it will appear just under source, you have a pick list in case you have more than one drive connected.
After an initial scan on the right hand side you will find all of the tracks from the disk on the right hand side.
Tip: If you only want the main movie look for the biggest file.
Expect around 30 GB for a Blu-ray and 4.7 GB for a DVD.
You will be prompted to create a new folder and you can click the burn button.
This process is time consuming, one disk can take up to 1 hour to copy on to your computer.
On more tip: if you would like to only watch the main movie you can change a setting under the preferences to set the minimum track time. Default setting is 120 seconds, maybe set this to 20-30 mins to cater for TV series.
You can also set the default destination of where the files will be saved on your pc.
Please check with the local laws where you live to see if this is allowed. The general consensus is that if you own your media and you keep them as long as you don’t resell or promote piracy in anyway you shouldn’t have a problem.
Remember although we think actors get paid too much the industry will not be able to survive without our purchases.
I have a large collection how do I speed this up ?
Really good question, while ripping disks is worth it in the long run it can be a tedious operation if you have a good movie collection.
Buy a robot Arm
This sounds like a cool option but it will set you back at least a whopping $ 4500
The robot Arm picks up the disks and drops them into the dvd drive, this is robot is mainly suitable for TV stations.
Get someone to help you (Ripping Service)!
Media Server Plex
What is Plex ?
Plex is a media streaming software that allows you to watch you digital media with high quality cover art and all the information of the movie such as: Actors, Directors, PG rating etc.
Plex is composed of two parts:
- Plex media server, this is where all the majority of the computing power is done and where your files are stored.
- Plex clients, for example the Plex app that you can download from the App Store.
In a future post I’ll go into a step by step guide to install the Plex Media server and app.
As mentioned, Plex downloads all the meta data and stores it into the media server to give you that Netflix like look.
Plex gives you suggestions like recently added content, recently aired content, continue watching and suggestions.
How much does Plex cost ?
The good news that many of the features I mentioned are free!
Just sign up for a Plex account here
Plex does offer a premium package called Plex premium which I will review in a future post (subscribe to get notified).
Watching my content on Ipad
This is going to be the easiest step of them all! You have done all the hard work now.
Go to the App Store and download the Plex app.
You can test out the functionality for yourself but you will be limited in the amount of content you can watch.
If don’t intend to purchase Plex pass (which I don’t recommend), you can unblock the app with a one-time purchase of $4.99
Do I have to pay for the App on my other devices?
Yes and no let me explain.
The purchase of the one-time subscriptions gives you access to the app to any device you have linked over to your Apple ID.
Purchases made by the Apple ID can be shared with you other family members with Family Sharing
Note: a purchase on the apple store doesn’t transfer to your android device or your amazon device. You will have to unblock the app again.
Plex premium allows you to save the $4.99 activation fee.
Can I watch Plex offline or outside ?
Yes you can watch offline, first of all you need to download the content while at home on your Wifi.
Unfortunately this is a Plex pass online feature.
If you want to download a whole TV series you can set Plex to remove downloaded episodes after you have watched them, quite neat feature to save some space.
To save some further space you can set the download quality, this will impact slightly effect your quality.
Hope you found this useful, if you enjoyed this post please subscribe to get notified!
To the next post and keep it digital!