The Asus Eee 4G mini-notebook computer lacks a DVD drive. One way to watch DVD movies is to hook up a DVD drive to on of the USB ports. (I haven't tried this yet.)
The other method is to rip DVDs to a USB key. Here is how to do it:
1. From the http://www.dvdcatalyst.com/compare site, download the free DVD Catalyst program. Its purpose is to convert movies into files that can be used on portable devices, like PalmPilots and the iPhone.
2. Install the software on your fastest, multi-core computer. On my 6-year-old Pentium 4, the ripping speed was 0.5x -- it took twice as long to rip as to watch the movie, something close to 5 hours. On my dual-core 64-bit Turion, the speed was just over 2.0x -- half the time of the movie and 4x faster than the other computer.
3. Start the software and insert a disc into the DVD drive.
4. Wait for a minute or so as the software scans the disc for chapters, languages, and subtitles. The thumbnail preview image is a nice touch.
5. Choose the options you want:
- Which chapters, such as the just the movie or also the extras.
- Which language.
- Whether you want subtitles included.
6. Choose the ripping quality. This is not well documented. In general, you can get away with lower quality results in movies, because lower quality and resolution is not as noticeable as it is with photographs. Lower quality and lower resolution results in smaller files; smaller files means you can have more movies on the USB key.
* I found that the Palm setting of 320x240 was sufficient, and resulted in a movie files about 300MB in size.
* For better quality, use the Windows Mobile VGA setting of 640x480. The higher resolution doubles the size of the movie to about 600MB.
You can see the effect: better quality means fewer movies. Still, at 600MB, I'd be able to fit about 26 movies on my 16GB USB key.
7. The other factor is the file format, which is completely undocumented. The SmPlayer provided by Asus for the Eee does not work with MP4 files, a format used by the Sony and iPod/iPhone settings. Instead, use the Palm or Windows setting, which saves movies in AVI format.
8. Click the Green Arrow. Select the destination folder. I have the software rip directly to the 16GB USB key, then there is no need to copy the file later.
9. Wait for the movie to be ripped. At 2x speed, this takes about one hour.
10. When done, plug the USB key from the computer, stick it into the Asus Eee, and start watching with SmPlayer.
SmPlayer has two features that I really like:
It remembers the last frame you watched. That means when you restart
the computer or the SmPlayer software, the movie continues from where
you left off.
* It tries to determine the aspect ratio automatically, but if it doesn't look right to you, you can manual set the aspect ratio.
And it has a quirky feature: it displays the speed vectors, which show you how much each part of each frame changes from frame to frame.