Review: HandBrake (v.0.8.5b1) DVD-to-MPEG-4 Converter

Apple Store“Today we’re looking at two new third-generation tools, the open-source project HandBrake 0.8.5b1 (free, PC/Mac) and Techspansion’s VisualHub 1.23 ($23, Mac), both designed to create 320×240, 640×480, and even Apple TV-ready video files,” Jeremy Horwitz reports for iLounge.

Horwitz reports, “As we note in all articles dealing with the creation of iPod-formatted videos, the copyright laws of your country may limit your right to transcode DVDs or other copyright-protected content into other formats; consult your local laws before using any program capable of removing copyright encryption.”

Horwitz reports, “With that disclaimer out of the way, it’s worth noting that HandBrake and VisualHub are both designed to transform movies into Apple-compliant video formats, but they take different approaches to copyright protection: VisualHub converts only unprotected files, transforming content you’ve created with a digital camera or downloaded from the Internet into iPod-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-ready formats. HandBrake, by comparison, is an end-to-end solution for converting even protected DVDs into one of these formats.”

Horwitz reports, “HandBrake’s main selling points are its simplicity, efficiency, and pricing. With the program running, you insert a DVD into your computer’s DVD drive, watch as HandBrake identifies the disc, then you select it and hit ‘open,’ pick the preset for your device, and hit Start. No other work is required…”

Full article here.


  1. Why is it still illegal to convert DVD into iPod based Video and others?

    I thought it was legal since I own DVD and I was able to convert them but I learned that Apple doesn’t support Handbrake and other company similiar Handbrake?

  2. Illegal…

    It’s illegal to break the encryption on a DVD in the USA, but the fair-use doctrine allows you to make a back up, so it’s a tricky legal issue in the US of A. At least this is what I’ve always read.

  3. What, because technology changes I must buy the same move over and over again in multiple formats? This is what the studio’s of course want, but that is an absolute racket in the highest order.

    Just becuase new technology comes out to view entertainment on, I’m not leaving my legacy physical media behind, thus handbreak is the perfect solution to keep the content you purchased with you and relevant for years to come.

  4. Media companies have lawmakers in their back pocket, a bastardization of democracy, where you pay to run a mafia like racket to collect more money for the same products every time there’s a shift in technology.

    It should be illegal, but when people with money write the laws, they call the shots.

    But consumers are not stupid, and laws or no laws, if you try to force us to continually pay for something we’ve already paid you for and own, we’ll revolt and work around the law.

  5. “What, because technology changes I must buy the same move over and over again in multiple formats?”

    Like going from Live Music > Wax Cylinders > LPs > 8 Tracks > Cassettes > CDs > MP3s > AAC…

    Let’s break the cycle.

  6. Media companies argue that the material you buy from them is licensed only. That is you buy the right to use the material in the container provided.

    I understand that they want to protect their material and given the wholesale trading of music on pirate networks I don’t blame them. However limiting the use of material you have legitimately have paid for sucks.

    In the end providing easy to use digital files that are cost effective will be the best way to beat the pirates. Make it a no-brainer for customers to buy movies, songs etc online and the majority will be willing to pay for it or rent it if the price is reasonable.

  7. I’ve been using the new HB for a few DVD’s and it works great! I had two DVD’s that I own that would not rip with the current mediafork but ripped fine with the new HB.

    I like the new apple tv preset, but I’m wondering why they chose to not have 2 pass encoding added, I’m guessing its because it rips much faster without it.

    I’m ripping a DVD right now with 2 pass checked and its taken nearly four hours.

    Does anyone know if there is a big benefit to using the 2 pass?


  8. While Handbrake is simpler to use, I have had better results with VisualHub.

    Maybe this new version of HB will solve the problems I had trying to put “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” on my son’s iPod.

  9. @Gow: except “Fair Use” is not some clearly defined set of rights ensconced in law, and unfortunately in America the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is. Do a little research if you are unfamiliar with this draconian measure that has basically (at least until challenged in a high court) taken away many of your “rights” – by which I mean, really, things that were either gray area, turned a blind eye to, assumed, tolerated, or had been previously supported or upheld in court decisions over the years.

    Things like the right to make a backup. Things like the right to time-shift or media-shift content for your own convenience. Things that seem perfectly logical because they only involve you doing things for yourself, not to modify or profit from someone else’s content.

    However, the DMCA basically says you have no rights whatsoever to the content you license, and criminalizes things like decrypting content without permission.

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