Friday, March 10, 2006
Posted by Jason Dunn in "SOFTWARE" @ 12:00 PM
AnyDVD has some other interesting features beyond decryption, the most notable of which is that if it's running and you put in a DVD to watch, it can skip past all those inane FBI warnings and commercials/previews, plunking you down right at the root menu for the DVD. I loved being able to just right into the movie without the 2-4 minutes most DVDs force you to wait through. Other features include stripping DVD regions, so if you want to watch that DVD you bought in Japan on your North American laptop, you can. Another welcome feature is that AnyDVD will disable the "PC Friendly" features that kick off when you put the DVD in your PC, such as that vile InterActual player that always wants to install itself.
Figure 2: Some of the options available.
The creators of AnyDVD, Slysoft, update it with ferocity – there's a new version every few weeks. They seem to systematically hunt down DVDs that use new encryption techniques, crack them, then incorporate the fixes into a new version of AnyDVD. If there's one thing I don't like about AnyDVD though is that there's no smooth update mechanism. The program checks for a new version when you load it up, and it you select update, all it does it load the AnyDVD download page in your browser. You have to download the entire program and install it again to get the new fixes. The combination of this poor upgrade mechanism and the frequency of updates has made me always run a few versions behind. I'd much rather see an integrated download mechanism that would grab whatever files have been updated and restart the program. The developers should look at how Picasa works for the way this should work.
It's the One to Beat
All in all, AnyDVD is a fantastic program that's definitely worth the money they charge for it ($39 USD). If you want to work with video off commercial DVDs, for whatever reason, the first step is always cracking the encryption and nothing does it better than AnyDVD. Although there are freeware programs that can get the same end result, I find that as I get older my time and sanity are worth a great deal to me, so there's no contest between AnyDVD and freeware alternatives. The fact that it comes with free lifetime upgrades is also a comforting thought, because I know the entertainment industry never stops coming up with ways to stop me from using the DVD I bought the way I want to use it. If it seems like I'm a fan of this program, it's because I value software that works well, doesn't get in my way, and provides huge value for the dollar. That's AnyDVD.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys mobile devices, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Alberta, Canada.