More and more folks are turning to cloud services like Dropbox to store their oh-so-precious private data, but when it comes to truly valuable info, it's still a good idea to keep a physical backup disc around in case those virtual services crap out on you. Then again, CDs and DVDs scratch waaaaay too easily and have limited shelf lives. If you've ever been screwed by a big gouge across an important backup disc, you might want to check out the new optical media that's hitting the market soon. Supposedly, it lasts forever, and the Department of Defense vouches for its resiliency.
Optical drives aren't potatoes. You can't boil them, mash them, or stick 'em in a stew. And by that, I mean there's simply not that much you can do with your average digital coffee holder. Optical drives read CDs. Optical drives write CDs. And... well, unless you have your drive hooked up to some kind of crazy Rube Goldberg device that feeds your guinea pig whenever you eject the tray, there's simply not much else you're going to be able to do with this essential part of your PC. CD goes in; CD goes out--end of story.
Of course, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with this description. There's a great deal you can do with your optical drive on the software side of things. Here's the problem: There are a ton of different programs out there for ripping, burning, and mounting images, amongst other behaviors. Finding the best-in-class application for your device can be like trying to find a tiny scratch on the bottom of the disc itself--a mind-numbing task that's sure to frustrate you as you sift through the 30 different utilities you've pulled down onto your desktop.
Allow me ease the pain a bit. In this week's freeware files, I'll be taking a look at some of the must-have software to supplement your CD drive. With these five apps, you'll be covered for a wide range of uses--ripping all different kinds of media to your (presumably) terabytes of storage space, burning your own custom discs and presentations based on preexisting files, and converting physical media to digital images that you can pull up off of your hard drive instead of ever having to fiddle with a disc again.
Grab a CD-R coaster for your drink and join me after the jump for all the software goodies!
The first Managed Copy enabled Blu-Ray disks will be hitting store shelves soon, unfortunately, it will be well ahead of any hardware that can make use of it. For those that haven’t heard of Managed Copy, it is a system that allows you to make legal copies of Blu-Ray disks, but spawned versions of the content are very heavily protected by DRM. Any user trying to play the copied version needs to contact the studios DRM servers which decide if you can watch it, and even how many times it can be copied.
Dedicated Blu-Ray hardware isn’t expected to implement this feature anytime soon, but PC jukebox software will likely be available within the next few months to take advantage of the fact that all disks sold after December 4th will need to be compliant. It remains to be seen if this is true of just new releases, or if the entire back catalog of Blu-Ray disks will eventually be updated. Either way, expect it to be a confusing mess until packaging updates roll along in the Spring.
Many wonder if Managed Copy will satisfy consumers ever increasing demands to “liberate” their digital content from the medium, but consumers historically haven’t embraced solutions that trade one DRM implementation for another. This is especially true when competing technologies such as those from Slysoft accomplishes the same thing, and without any additional usage restrictions.
Want to learn more about HD Video Encryption? Check out our White Paper for the low down.
RealNetworks continue to fight the good fight for consumers who wish to make legally backed up copies of their DVD collection, but the Seattle-based company has a tough road ahead of it.
The first bump in that road comes from U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel who on Tuesday ruled in favor of the movie studios and granted their request for a preliminary injunction preventing RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software. The injunction also bars the licensing of RealDVD to set-top box makers.
"We are very pleased with the court's decision," Dan Glickman, chief executive of the MPAA, said in a statement. "This is a victory for the creators and producers of motion pictures and television shows and for the rule of law in our digital economy. Judge Patel's ruling affirms what we have known all along: RealNetworks took a license to build a DVD-player and instead made an illegal DVD-copier."
Not unexpected, the setback doesn't mean the fight is over. RealNetworks has a suit pending against the movie studios accusing them of antitrust practices.
Movie pirates have often justified their DMCA violations by claiming that “they were just making backup copies”. And while this might seem like a reasonable enough explanation for cracking the copy protection on your new Blu-ray disk, it is in fact, highly illegal. It’s taken over three years, but “Managed Copy” is hoping to finally put the backup issue to rest by allowing users to make legitimate backup copies of their Blu-ray disks as early as next year.
For those of you who are thinking that this sounds too good to be true, it does indeed come at a cost. Current Blu-ray players will most likely not be able to decode the copied disk, and although this feature will be included in new players, that doesn’t help people with older hardware. The number of copies will also be heavily restricted, carry an unknown price tag, and if you want a PC friendly version, the result is a DRM-laced, Microsoft only file. This leaves iPod’s, Zune’s, and other platforms out in the cold. This might change before next year, but it seems increasingly unlikely when you consider that the authenticity check requires an internet connection.
I suppose something is better than nothing, and while Slysoft clearly has the superior solution,at least this one is guaranteed to be legal!
I just picked up a new netbook the other day. And you know what that netbook had? A lot of things, but "optical drive" wasn't on the list. So there I sat, staring at a stack of CDs all full of my most critical applications, games, and movies. Then I had a brainstorm: Rather than run down to the local electronics store to buy a lame external optical drive, I figured I would convert all of my optical media and slap it onto one of the external hard drives I have sitting around.
To do that, I turned to a suite of applications to rip, burn, encode, convert, and create all sorts of image files. It was a daunting task at first, but it sure beat shelling out for more hardware. Based on my troubles, I've come up with a list of five of the must-have applications for your CD manipulation needs. And these aren't just a list of applications for new netbook enthusiasts. These free apps have a universal appeal for anyone who's ever had to interact with their optical drive at any point. I would assume that this would make up 99% of all computer users--the one percent being anyone who just bought a new netbook without any kind of secondary system in their house. Whoops!
Click on the link and check out the five free apps for CD manipulation mayhem. Trust me, it's just that exciting.
By now, anyone who knows their way around an optical disc drive knows the names Roxio and Nero. The two media-creation mavens have been on the scene since practically the dawn of CD-burning time. And through to today, inclusion of one or the other’s software is de rigueur with the purchase of just about any retail PC or optical drive. Of course, the bundled software packages are but abbreviated versions of the full-on suites Roxio and Nero offer. The stand-alone packages go far beyond the basics of disc copying, burning, and playing—and that’s never been more true than today.
Back when Roxio’s product was called Easy CD Creator, it was a favorite among enthusiast disc-makers, but over time it became bloated and buggy, allowing Nero to gain traction. Knowing this, it’s hard not to perceive a hint of one-upmanship in Easy Media Creator 10. This suite offers a whopping 29 individual apps to Nero’s 22 (whether that’s a good thing depends on your uses for such a bounty).
When you install Nero 8 Ultra, no fewer than 22 individual apps take up residence on your PC. Some cover very specific tasks, such as DriveSpeed (which, as you might guess, tests the speed of your drive). Others are much more ambitious, like Nero Home, a Media Center–like interface that serves as an entertainment hub for music and video playback, TV streaming and recording, and content sharing over a network, all via a large living-room-friendly interface.