DVDFab + My Own DVDs = Couch Convenience
I don’t know if it’s legal or not, but if you use DVDFab with the Mobile option set to XVID video + MP3 audio (both supported by the XBOX 360 if you have the latest updates installed), you can rip the movie from your DVD (no menus, extras, etc) onto a network share (I use my Windows Home Server box), scroll through them on my XBOX 360 and play them back with a/v quality high enough that I can’t tell the difference (and I don’t have the quality cranked as high as it goes by any means).
Each movie takes roughly 1GB, so I can get all of my DVDs stored for the cost of two weeks’ worth of lattes (although I’m really just using the spare space on my 1.4TB of WHS storage). Plus, since I’m still in the 30-day trial period of DVDFab, if I hurry, I could rip them all for free (although for the $40, DVDFab Gold is definitely worth the price). It generally takes about 45 minutes per movie, so I’ll be flipping a lot of DVDs during the next 30 days and I haven’t bothered to figure out how to get DVD metadata, e.g. cover art, etc, but other than that, the experience is a wonderful one. In fact, since I hate going through all the previews and menus, just picking the movie from a list and having it playing immediately is a better experience that a DVD in many ways.
The only thing that could make this better is if WHS or Windows Media Center Edition had this feature built in. I’m guessing I’m breaking some laws by doing this, but to me, it sounds like fair use. I’m backing up the DVDs that I already own to a HDD. The fact that I can watch them without getting out of my couch doesn’t change the fact that the DVDs are right there on my shelf, purchased fair and square.
Oh, well, if the police want to come for me, they know where I am. : )