Reader question: how to get a DVD on the iPhone?



Got a question in the mailbag, and even though it applies to the iPhone, I suspect my answer will apply to the new Zunes as well. The question is: how to get or rip DVDs for use on the iPhone. There’s a number of solutions, but the best I’ve found is Handbrake, a free application for Mac or PC. In fact, Handbrake has custom settings specific for outputting DVD content to the iPhone’s screen and resolution. I used it just this week to get "Star Trek: Insurrection" on my iPhone since I’ll be traveling this weekend; with the decent screen size and res, movies look fantastic on the device.

You can play with the various Handbrake settings to change the output resolution, bitrate and such, but the iPhone presets work extremely well. You’ll get a nice compromise between picture quality and file size: Insurrection is an hour and 42 minutes long but only takes up 1.2 GB on my iPhone. Bear in mind the time to convert the audio & video: my 1:42 movie took about an hour to complete. Don’t forget that the new Zune devices will support H.264 / MPEG-4 codecs, so I imagine you’ll be able to use Handbrake to get DVDs on those as well. Handbrake will not work if a DVD has copy protection enabled; I’ve already found that out the hard way with the latest James Bond movie. I’ll leave that to you and Google to figure out. ;)



FairUseWizard is another free program that rips DVDs, and cuts right through the copy protection.


The James Bond Movie Casino Royal has ArccOS.

Here is the wikipedia excerpt: ARccOS had reportedly been discontinued by Sony in February of 2006.[2] However, several high-profile releases since then have used it, including the region 1 DVDs for “Hostel” (2006), “Underworld: Evolution” (2006), “Running With Scissors” (2006), and “Casino Royale” (2006). Many DVDs by Disney, Touchstone Pictures, and The Weinstein Company also use ARccOS – including “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”, “Flightplan”,”The U.S. vs. John Lennon” and “Lucky Number Slevin”.


Josh Hall


I’ve been slowly migrating my dvd collection (800+ Dvds) to iTunes so I can watch them when I want and haven’t found any that Handbrake can’t transcode.

You might want to check the forums @

It’s really nice to grab a couple movies before a flight and I’m actually making a dent in the non-watched list.

Side Topic – have you found a battery extender for the iPhone yet? I use a nyko iBoost but it really doesn’t work right.

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