Editor’s Note: Some products reviewed here allow you to circumvent copy encryptions contained on commercial discs, an act that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) forbids, even for personal use. Top Ten Reviews does not endorse piracy or any other illegal activity. Some consumer advocates are actively seeking exceptions to the act’s provision for personal use of copyrighted material purchased by consumers. There’s no evidence that any consumer has been prosecuted or sued for circumventing copy protections for personal use.
The top performers in our review are Aimersoft DVD Ripper, the Gold Award winner; Movavi Video Converter, the Silver Award winner; and Leawo DVD Ripper, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 applications.
About a decade ago, DVD was king of home entertainment. Having swept VHS into obsolescence, this technology marked a major turning point in the transition from an analog world to a digital one. But even greater innovations were to come: High-definition discs like Blu-ray and streaming media services such as Netflix and Hulu took a major bite out of DVDs' dominance. But DVDs remain a major part of our digital lives and they aren't going away any time soon.
Another major advancement in the entertainment space is Apple’s iPad. The ability to stream, download and watch an enormous amount of movies, music and TV shows is only one of its exceptional features. The App Store allows you to use this device for nearly any purpose you can think of.
However, these two technologies don’t quite match up. An iPad lacks an optical drive, so you can’t insert a DVD into it. Nor does iTunes, the program that manages your iPad, import DVD content the same way it does music from a CD. This leaves you with no way to watch the DVDs you’ve paid for on your tablet. You can repurchase your DVD collection from the iTunes Store, but that can be expensive, especially if you have a large DVD library.
This is where DVD to iPad converter software comes in. These applications let you transfer your DVD movies and TV shows from their discs to your computer. They also convert the raw video files into a format that you can then import into iTunes and sync to your iPad. You’re then free to watch them on your tablet wherever and whenever you wish.
For those looking to convert high-quality video for devices other than iPads, say iPods, smartphones or tablets, be sure to browse our articles on DVD to MP4 converters found in our learning center.
Every commercial DVD contains what is known as an ISO file (sometimes called an ISO image). This is essentially the blueprint for the disc. It contains everything from the feature presentation to bonus material, menus and other information needed to play a DVD. These applications have the ability to parse the files, extracting the video files and discarding the rest.
When you load a DVD into a converter application, all of its contents are listed in the main interface window. You can then pick and choose which content you want to watch on your iPad. Most programs have iPad conversion profiles; pick the profile for the iPad model you own and hit Convert. Within an hour or so, you’ll have a file that you can sync to and watch on your iPad.
One of the major hurdles conversion software must clear is circumventing copy protections found on nearly all commercial discs. These protections usually come in the form of encryptions that only DVD players can recognize and decode. The best converter programs have the ability to crack the encryption so that content can be transferred from the DVD and onto your hard drive. Almost all the applications on our side-by-side comparison chart successfully broke copy encryptions and converted a feature-length DVD movie for playback on an iPad.
In the years since Apple first launched the iPad, they have released nine distinct models of the tablet – each one with its own particular design and settings. The best DVD converters come with a library of preprogrammed profiles that optimize your conversion for the particular model of iPad you own.
Closed captioning have become a universal feature on discs created by mainstream manufacturers. All the products in our lineup have the ability to retain these captions. But there is a catch: Once a video has been converted with the captions, you lose the ability to turn them off since they’re incorporated directly into the video file itself.
There will be times that you want to convert only the audio portion of a DVD movie. Perhaps you like the soundtrack or there are special features where the audio is the main attraction. The best DVD to iPad converters extract only the audio content on the disc. You can then listen to them on your iPad the same way you would a song, audio book or podcast.
All of the DVD to iPad programs in our review were subjected to a battery of tests to determine which ones were the best.
Each of the programs in our lineup are designed around the same general concept, but there are some differences. In our tests we evaluated how easy the interface is to learn and use, execute common tasks, and customize your conversion with all models of the iPad. In general, we found that all these applications were easy enough for anyone to use, although some were easier to learn than others.
The nature of converting a DVD for playback on an iPad requires that the application compress the raw files it rips from the disc. This compression typically causes a loss in quality from the original file. The best converters compensate for this compression and loss in quality.
In our tests, we compared a converted movie from each program against a digital download of the same film. Our audio and video experts searched for imperfections, such as pixilation, blur, and color degradation, and audio flaws, such as pops, hissing and muffled sound.
While no program scored perfectly in these tests, the best products came close to duplicating the quality of the original disc. Conversely, there were some programs that missed the mark by a wide margin.
Converting DVDs for your iPad can be a time-consuming chore. We timed how long it takes each program to rip and convert a feature-length movie. We found that it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to complete a conversion. However, there was no discernable correlation between conversion times and the quality or size of the exported video file.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of the average consumer. We obtained the programs in our comparison by purchasing each of the products on our side-by-side comparison chart. The manufacturer had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to manufacturers in advance of publication.
At the end of our analysis we determined that the following products are the best DVD to iPad converters available:
Aimersoft DVD Ripper – This program has nearly all the features we look for in DVD converter software. Once you load a DVD, you can begin a conversion with a single click. A conversion takes a little more than an hour to complete. It has a healthy selection of iPad models to choose from and yields high-quality video and audio.
Movavi Video Converter – This is an excellent program that can convert a DVD for an iPad in less than an hour. It has optimization profiles for newer models of the iPad, plus it has every customization option in our comparison matrix. Its major flaw is that it did not break the copy protections found on commercial discs.
Leawo DVD Ripper – This converter is a module of Leawo’s larger media converter suite. The quality of the converted video is flawless; however, the audio doesn’t rise to the level of quality of the original disc. It also creates files that are notably smaller than the rest of the products on our lineup, which means you can fit more movies and TV shows onto your iPad.
A solid DVD to iPad converter application allows you to mobilize your DVD library. You no longer need a player and a television set to watch your movies without having to rebuy them from movie download services like iTunes and Amazon.