Most people have probably gone through the experience of ripping all their CDs at some point over the last ten years or so.
Nobody seems to be doing the same thing with DVDs.
We know that plenty of people like watching video on their computers – whether that is streaming YouTube clips, downloading episodes on iPlayer to watch on the train, or even using a laptop as a portable DVD player. Now that most people have a smartphone (which probably has a reasonably sized screen for watching video), and a growing number have a tablet (even better for video on the go), it seems like this is something people should be thinking about.
If nothing else, I like the idea that I could box up my DVDs and put them 'away' – out of the living room, clearing out valuable storage space.
So, is it worth ripping DVDs?
My biggest TV box set is the Jeeves and Wooster BBC series - all 4 series, over 8 DVDs. To rip them would probably take about 4-5 hours of ripping, compressing and swapping discs, about 50 gigabytes of hard drive space for the DVD images and another few gigabytes for the compressed files.
Or, for a shade under £19, I could download them all from iTunes. Ignoring the issue of hard drive space (which is a cost that will go down over time), that works out as saving myself about £5 for every hours work.
The equation is slightly different for films (ie. just one DVD to rip, but more expensive.) eg. Skyfall - £10 Dark Knight Rises - £15
I'm still looking at spending about £5 to save an hours 'work'.
The economics seem to make sense for any given film or TV series, if you value your spare time in the same way as your paid time. But looking at the dozens of DVDs in my collection… I'm probably not even going to watch them all again, let alone consider it worthwhile paying for them a second time around.
But… Once I've got my favourite films and TV programmes in iTunes, it becomes very simple to move them onto my iPhone or iPad. And if they are sitting on my iPad and I don't really fancy reading on my way home from work on the train, then I'll happily watch them.
In other words; DVDs, sitting in a big collection in a cupboard = Gathering dust, unwatched. Digital video, sitting on an 8" screen in my pocket = Much, much more likely to be watched.
Suddenly, it becomes a question of value. I'm reminded of the number of Lovefilm DVD rentals that have sat in their envelope for a couple of weeks before being sent back unwatched; my wife and I learnt quite quicky that there is a different between a film that we want to watch and a film that we want to have watched. (For example, I want to have watched intelligent documentaries, thought provoking drama and films of artistic value. But on a given weekday evening, I want to watch some dumb comedy, effects-laden action film, or other mindless entertainment that won't challenge me after a long day at work.
So, I'm embarking on the mission; to digitise my DVD collection, box them up and shift them out of the way. So far, I've got a few of my favourite TV shows sitting on my iPad, and I'm in the middle of re-watching Lord of the Rings (in daily 20 minute chunks.) The down side is that I'm not getting anything done on my daily train journey any more. But on the plus side – at least until the novelty wears off – I'm enjoying it more. I think that's probably worth the effort alone.