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Apple may be turning its back on the DVD format, but developers are filling the gap with software for copying, converting, and creating discs. Unfortunately, this leads to buggy Mac apps of questionable quality. DVDFab is one such product, comprising 10 different apps, with access only to those you choose to pay for. The bizarre licensing scheme offers one- to four-year subscriptions or a non-expiring “lifetime” license for a few bucks more. (The “all-in-one lifetime” package is $299.)
We tested DVDFab’s DVD Copy for Mac, which can clone, burn, decrypt, copy, or back up any DVD, including CSS-encrypted Hollywood discs. The cluttered UI teases you with trial versions of the app’s other functionality, but DVDFab does work as promised. It created a new disc folder on the hard drive featuring only the movie (no extras, no menus) from a copy-protected commercial disc.
Despite its flaws, DVDFab’s custom mode puts you in full control.
Installation was painless, but we were disturbed to see the installer drop an alias on our desktop--an odd throwback to the pre-OS X era. Worse, a bug in DVDFab completely disables the app if you trash this alias; reinstalling gets things working again. However, you don’t have to delete this alias for DVDFab to throw a monkey wrench into your plans: we quit the app normally after our first disc copy, only to discover it refused to open next time (or even after a restart), again requiring us to reinstall.
We had better luck with Wondershare’s DVD Creator for Mac, essentially a replacement for Apple’s orphaned iDVD authoring software. DVD Creator one-ups that late, great iLife component by creating DVDs from most any video format you can throw at it--including MKV, MP4, AVI, WMV, and MTS--with extensive editing features that allow far more customization than Apple ever allowed.
DVD Creator makes it easy for orphaned iDVD users to transition, with a user interface reminiscent of Apple’s own.
DVD Creator makes short work of creating photo slideshow discs with music, although the media browser had trouble finding our Aperture/iPhoto libraries (only Photo Booth showed up, but we could add images with the file browser). While the 90-plus templates aren’t quite as slick as Apple’s, they cover a wider range of styles. The app can burn projects to either DVD-5 (single-layer) or DVD-9 (dual-layer) discs of any type, or output to disk folder or ISO image, with speeds outpacing iDVD in our tests.
Customization is where DVD Creator truly shines, with the ability to crop, trim, rotate, and add titles, watermarks, and special effects to videos. You can combine multiple movies into one, or split longer videos into sections. The app is $10 cheaper in the Mac App Store than from Wondershare’s website, and you’ll get free lifetime support and upgrades either way.
DVD Creator isn’t perfect: for example, Editing and customization windows require users to click the red close button to go back to the main window, which might confuse novice users.
The bottom line. Steer clear of the bugs and shady license terms of DVDFab (MacDVDRipper Pro and RipIt are both better). DVD Creator does a good job of replacing iDVD, although its feature set is marred by odd UI quirks. If we could have one app for both tasks, Roxio Toast 11 Titanium ($79.99, www.roxio.com) is a better solution, but DVD Creator’s lower price makes it a worthy contender for multimedia discs.
DVDFab DVD Copy for Mac
Price: $45.00 (one-year license), $68 (lifetime license)
Requirements: Intel processor, Mac OS 10.6 or later, 512MB RAM, 20GB free disk space, DVD drive, internet connection (for registration/loading)
Pros: Wide variety of options for copying, including protected DVDs. Eight copy modes let you create new discs with only select content. Copies discs to and from different sizes with ease.
Cons: Overly complicated UI is just a big advertisement for the company’s companion products. Convoluted licensing scheme slyly makes more expensive “lifetime” license the more enticing option. App is a poor Mac port of Windows version with show-stopping bugs.
Price: $39.99; Available in the Mac App Store
Requirements: 1GHz Intel processor, Mac OS 10.6.6 or later, 512MB RAM, SuperDrive or external DVD burner
Pros: Nicely picks up where Apple’s abandoned iDVD software left off. Wide variety of stylized templates for almost any theme. Plenty of customization options for keeping work inside the app.
Cons: Media browser failed to recognize iPhoto or Aperture libraries. Navigation between windows often awkward and nonstandard.