The travelling Playbook

I sang the praises of my Playbook tablet on here just after I purchased it about 4 months ago and I’m still finding it very useful as a sofa based browsing device. In a few weeks time however Miss C and I are off on hour summer hols and I’ll get to find out just how good it is a travel gadget.

As we are off to one of the Greek Islands – possibly a less than wise choice given the current economic climate out there but who knows – we are looking at a three and a half our flight so one thing I wanted to do was load my Playbook with a few movies to keep me entertained. It’s been a while since I’ve done any DVD ripping so I spent a few days looking around for software that gave me just the right mix of functionality. On the one hand I like easy to use software but I also like having plenty of settings to play around with if I choose. After a bit of research I ended up using XMedia Recode although Handbrake was also very good.

The XMedia Recode comes with a large number of preset profiles for all sorts of devices so you can – if you want – simply select your device and go with the settings it recommends. If you want to dabble a little you can start tweaking those settings like I did. As I only have a 16GB model of the Playbook I wanted to make sure I had good quality at a reasonable file size so I could fit a good eight DVDs on there and have a little choice in my viewing. What I finally ended up with was:

Profile: Main
Level: 4.1
Preset: Slow
Tune: Film
Framerate: Original
Rate Control Mode: Constant Quality
Quality: 20

I had little idea what the rest of the settings did so left them at the default. With those settings I could encode a DVD in about 1hr to 1hr 20 minutes on my quad core Athlon II 3.2GHz machine and end up with good quality movies at a size of about 700-900MB depending on the length and type of film (Animated films came in at less than 500MB). Of course this was just the encoding stage and I did actually have to rip the DVD first to end up with a file to encode.

For that I used the old – but still brilliant – DVD Decrypter. It is pretty straightforward to use once you get around the basics but there is a good guide here which shows you everything you need. The two important things I’d mention are:

1. Use IFO mode and select the input stream with the time that corresponds to the length of the move (the rest are extras and menus). Then untick the last one, or possibly two chapters associated with that stream as that will probably be the credits and some piracy warning at the end of the film and there is no point encoding them unless you really want to watch them later (launch the DVD to check chapter numbers to see if the last chapter is the credits if need be). The piracy warning usually only reduces the DVD length by 10 seconds or so, so is easy to spot.
2. Make sure IFO mode is not set to automatically split the file in the Option menu.

The ripping doesn’t take too long and isn’t very CPU intensive at all so once you have one VOB file created (that’s the default output) and being encoded in XMedia Recoder you can start ripping the next DVD at the same time to have a little production line going. Only other thing is DVD Decrypter makes an awful racket when it finishes – scares the crap out of me every time if I have my headphones one so beware… 😉

So now I’m all set for my flight. I may also download a few eBooks to give me some extra entertainment options and I already have a some good free games to keep me busy (such as the very addictive Robotek. Best not forget my charger….

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