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Netbook computers are extremely lightweight and relatively inexpensive. But it’s extremely difficult to find one with a built-in DVD drive. I’ve always enjoyed watching DVDs on my laptop computer while travelling and was disappointed when I couldn’t find a netbook with a DVD drive. I didn’t want to carry an external DVD drive while travelling (one more item to carry or misplace) but was able to figure out an excellent way to view DVDs on my netbook that works with over 95% of my collection. This method is for standard DVDs, not Blu-Ray.
Note – this method requires the ability to copy a DVD on to your computer. This may or may not be a violation of the law for copyrighted DVDs. I am not a lawyer but in my opinion as long as you don’t make any permanent copies this falls under the “Fair Usage” guidelines of the copyright laws in the United States since you are just converting the DVD’s format for usage on another device. For this tutorial we’re going to use a DVD where non-commercial copying is specifically allowed so copyright issues are not a concern. Of course if you make your own homemade DVDs (like videos of your family activities) you own the copyright and can do whatever you want with them.
There are commercial programs which accomplish the same tasks as this tutorial, however this procedure is free. This tutorial uses freeware programs under Microsoft Windows. Similar techniques with different programs will work with other operating systems.
This method requires basic knowledge of how to use computers which are networked together, and two computers – one with a DVD drive (either a laptop or desktop computer) and your netbook. This article is for informational purposes and the author and this website will not provide any warranties for the suitability of this procedure for any particular purposes and will not provide any technical assistance.
Step 1: How to do it
1) Copy the DVD to a computer with a DVD drive using a program like “DVD Decrypter.”
2) Transfer the file from that computer to your netbook.
3) Use a program which mounts that file as a disk image like “MagicDisc.”
4) Play the DVD image with any software DVD player. I like “VLC Media Player” but “Windows Media Player” and "WinDVD" will also work.
The good news is these programs are all freeware and easy to find. Other programs will also work, but this tutorial will use these programs.
The programs –
DVD Decrypter is a freeware program which copies DVDs, including most copy protected ones. While development of new versions has stopped it’s fairly easy to find. Install DVD Decrypter on the computer with a DVD drive. This will be the machine you use to transfer the DVD to your computer.
MagicDisc is a freeware program which lets you “mount” a virtual copy of a DVD on your computer. From your computer’s perspective it just grew a DVD drive with whatever disk image you specify. Install this utility on your netbook.
VLC Media Player is an excellent open source program for playing many different video formats and much less intrusive than Windows Media Player. Install this program on your netbook.