PSP's UMD Already Attracting Ripping Software7 Jul, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf
Even as Sony touts initially cheery sales figures for the Universal Media Disc (UMD), a quick Internet search reveals plenty of sites offering tips and software that would ostensibly help PlayStation Portable (PSP) owners rip the DVDs they already own into PSP-readable content.
Software such as Xilisoft, for example, allows conversion of DVD content to MP4 content, which is playable on the PSP, with a $45 purchase. Other software offerings come with a similar price tag.
Legal issues aside — these software programs certainly circumvent copy protections — Sony likely isn't and shouldn't be worried about illegally ripped DVD content stealing too much thunder from the UMD, one industry insider said.
“It's totally impractical,” he said. There are plenty of things working against would-be content downloaders, he added.
First of all, the PSP has no hard-disc drive. Downloaded content only could be stored on a memory stick and played back with Flash Media. The PSP is designed to hold a certain amount of digital content — like photos, MP3s or short video files offered by content suppliers such as Eagle Rock Entertainment — or through legal sites like Connect.com. Most PSP hardware bundles come with a 32MB memory stick. But a full-length movie takes up nearly 2GB of memory, which is why UMD discs were developed with 1.8GB capacity, according to the industry source. PSP owners can purchase memory sticks with higher capacity, such as the SanDisk 1GB memory card. Right now, this is the highest-capacity memory stick on the market, but it's still not enough to hold a movie and retails at $149.99.
Even if would-be DVD rippers could purchase a memory card big enough to hold a feature film (and a 2GB card is expected to hit the market next year), the cost associated with it, plus the added software purchase and the large chunks of time it would take to download a movie to the PSP, could take the steam out of the whole process as a viable option to purchasing a $14.99 UMD, the industry source said.
Todd Chanko, digital rights management analyst for JupiterResearch, agreed.
“It seems to me to be a great deal of effort for the average person,” he said. “That's why in the long run, I don't see it as an enormous threat.”
But, he added, if ripping a feature-length movie into a format the player doesn't have the capacity to support is counterintuitive, there are other kinds of content that aren't, like a 22-minute TV show.
The SnapStream Internet Blog, for instance, provides step-by-step details for PSP owners to use Beyond TV personal video recorder software to convert recorded TV content to the handheld device.