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K3b

If you are like me, you didn't even realize K3b was capable of transcoding. I knew that you could rip an iso image for burning, but I never suspected I could create an AVI as well. Being a featured KDE app, K3b uses the Qt toolkit for its GUI. I used version 0.12.15-2. Since K3b is such a widely distributed app, it should be available from any distro's packaging system, and you may have it installed already.

How was the performance you ask? Very fast I'd say. In my test K3b was the fastest of them all, coming in under 3 hrs for the transcode.

Step-by-step (with default file size and options):

  1. Select your DVD drive from the folder tree on the left. The longest movie sequence will be automatically selected. This is usually the main movie, however you can change it if you wish.
  2. Right click the selected title and choose Copy.
  3. Choose your destination directory and click Start. It took about 6 minutes to complete on my computer.
  4. After the ripping stage is complete select Encode Video from the Tools menu.
  5. Select the DVD ripping file you just created and a filename for your movie. I left everything else as defaults.
  6. Click Encode and wait for the transcode to complete.
K3b encoding video

K3b encoding video.

Much like the K3b's primary existance as a CD/DVD writer, it's ripping and transcoding modes are very easy to use. I did run across a bug during the video ripping stage, but it didn't appear to cause any problems with the end result. When preprocessing the DVD, the calculation for percent complete is off and results in the percentage running significantly over 100% (i.e. >10,000%). One caution on this app is a message that appear saying K3b is currently looking for a maintainer, so it is unclear whether bugs like these are actually being fixed right now. If you are interested in this kind of work yourself and want to be involved in a great project it looks like a good time to contact the team and see if they still have an opening.

K3b default file size is a single 700MB file. A handful of other options are available from a drop down list. Many of the other rippers work in a similar fashion. The only reason I mention it here is to note that you can select whatever file size you want, even if it isn't on the list, but you might not realize it at first glance. Choosing --- from the CDs dropdown box will allow you to manually enter a custom file size. This option should really be marked with something more intuitive.

Another feature of note is K3b's support for an AC3 pass-through mode in case you want to maintain surround sound audio. The default is using MP3 compression, but AC3 mode is a good option if you really want Dolby Digital output. Hopefully we'll see an MPEG surround sound standard soon, but until that comes, keeping the AC3 track is the way to go.

K3B is my new favorite DVD ripper and the one I'll be using from now on. The one feature it is missing is support for subtitles. If you don't care about that though, K3b is the easiest and fastest of all the apps I tested. I rate it at 4 stars for DVD ripping, although I consider it a 5 star program for CD/DVD writing. Only its bug during the DVD ripping stage and lack of subtitle support kept it from being a 5. It would also be nice if the rip and transcode pieces could be combined where all of the options are selected up front.

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