Yes, I’d Pay to Turn My DVDs into Digital Movies

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All Things D’s Peter Kafka is skeptical about Walmart’s new Disc to Digital service, which lets you take one or more DVDs into a Walmart store and pay a fee to unlock digital access to the same content. That lets you stream and download movies on a bevy of gadgets via the company’s Vudu service, including game consoles, Blu-Ray players, computers and phones.

He has reason to be doubtful. As he details, the service suffers from a bunch of gotchas. Disney, for instance, isn’t participating. Android isn’t supported. And iOS devices only get access to streaming versions that require Internet access, not downloadable copies which you could watch on a plane.

Then there’s the question of whether consumers will be willing to pay anything at all for such a service, considering that it’s possible — easy, even — to rip your own DVDs into digital versions. (It helps if you don’t spend too much time pondering the legal implications of doing so.)

I don’t think I’ll partake in Walmart’s service, even though I’m a Vudu fan. Along with the downsides that Kafka mentions, I have several more of my own. For one thing, the nearest Walmart locations are 20 miles away from my home. For another, my tastes are arcane enough that much of the stuff I’d want to watch isn’t (legally) available on Vudu or any other service.

Still, I like the basic idea of converting DVDs into legal digital copies — and I like it enough that I’d be willing to pay for the privilege. Ripping DVDs may be straightforward, but the process takes a long time, and most of the computers I have on hand these days don’t even have an optical drive. And I really like the idea of having Vudu, or someone like Vudu, keep track of the digital versions rather than having to store them myself.

When this can be done easily at home, and a lot more titles are available, I’m interested — and I’d even pay a fairly large chunk of change to digitize the hundreds of DVDs I have on hand in one fell swoop. I stand ready with my credit card in case anyone plans to offer this service soon.

If nobody does, that’s okay. I can keep myself occupied for now: I still have hundreds of videotapes that I’ve been meaning to turn into DVDs using my combo VHS/DVD burner.

Here, in case you’re still interested, is Walmart’s video explainer of its service: