May 26, 2012, 7:33 AM — Apple's walled garden is a paradise for many, simplifying the tasks of finding, downloading, and managing music and video for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. But for some people (including me), Apple's walled garden feels more like a penitentiary.
The iTunes software is optimized to sell you content. Using it for anything else, such as adding your own video or a music track, isn't so easy. But I don't like the idea of buying a music track or a video from the iTunes Store, even though I already own it, just because doing so is easier than importing it via iTunes.
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That's why I've put together a list of five PC desktop software programs for adding and managing video and music on your iOS device. Whether your interests run to playing your favorite DVDs on your iPad or to dragging and dropping music files onto your iPhone, I've got you covered.
Convert Your DVDs
Before we start, let's quickly review the ground rules: If you don't own it, don't rip it. If you do own a DVD, then ultimately it's up to you whether to rip it for your own personal reuse. Read up on the ripping debate if you have any questions.
Aside from adding commercial videos to your iOS device, you might also want to include personal videos that aren't protected by digital rights management restrictions. For such videos, the only hindrance to adding them to you iOS device is iTunes.
Various PC apps claim that they can convert your videos so that you can watch them on your phone or iPad. But beware: Not all DVD rippers produce output of equal quality. Far too many deliver choppy video and out-of-sync audio. A DVD ripping program called HandBrake is my top pick because it's free, it's simple to use, and it works.
Basically, HandBrake gets your videos in shape to play on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs--just as if you had purchased the video content from the store. To use HandBrake, simply point the software to your DVD drive and select the preset to either iPod, iPhone, iPad, or AppleTV--that's it. Here's a detailed step-by-step guide to get you started.
Depending on your computer's processor speed, converting a full-length DVD can take can take between 40 minutes and 2 hours. You can set HandBrake to move your PC into sleep mode automatically once it has finished copying the movie off the DVD.