I really love my new Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) and while most of the games are kinda lame, there are enough good ones that it’s a great companion on my daily commute. I bought a few UMD format movies, but I have a HUGE library of DVDs that I got for my home and I’d love to be able to copy some of them onto the PSP rather than have to buy UMDs. Is that even possible, and if so, how the heck do I do it, Dave? Help me, please!
I really like the Sony PSP too, though there are some features they could add (like A/V out!) that would make it 10x cooler, but in my experimentation it’s astonishingly fussy about video that you download onto the device. I’ve used lots of different programs to convert everything from innocuous home movies to commercial DVD movies with very varied success.
In a nutshell, the biggest problem you face copying your DVDs onto the PSP device is the same problem you have copying a commercial DVD for any other purpose: commercial DVDs have a variety of different protection mechanisms to prevent you from migrating the data from one device to another, making backup copies, or otherwise consuming it as your lifestyle requires.
There are a variety of different programs you can download for your Windows XP computer that will help circumvent these protection mechanisms, but generally they’re all illegal to sell in the United States, so you’ll find that their authors are all based overseas to avoid any problems. Is it ethical or legit to wantonly copy DVDs that you get from Blockbuster, Netflix or your pals? Of course not. That’s a problem and I don’t endorse that behavior for a second.
On the other hand, I have at least four different devices that can play movies, including my Sony PSP, an Apple iPod Video, an Archos AV-700 and a Wolverine MVP-100 multimedia device. If I want to take a movie that I already own and push it out to these devices, are organizations like the MPAA really expecting me to dutifully buy five copies of the movie, one for each platform? That’s incredibly anti-consumer in my opinion. And so, I am offering up this tutorial on how to copy your movies (read that again: your movies) onto the Sony PSP.
The first, and perhaps most crucial step is to get a software program that removes the encryption and other protections from your DVD player on your PC, and after having tried out a bunch of free and pay solutions, I haven’t found anything better than the $24 AnyDVD1 application from Antigua-based SlySoft. What’s particularly nice about their solution is that it’s invisible: once you install it, programs that access the data on your DVD drive go through the AnyDVD app and never see any encoding, encryption, CSS, Macrovision, or regional encoding limitations. It’s like waving a magic wand over the commercial DVD movies you put in your computer. You can get a sense of how it lets you interface with your DVDs by looking at its settings:
Once you have that set up and running (it requires a reboot and injects itself into the DVD driver, so it looks kinda like spyware, but it’s benign and only accomplishes the one task of helping you access your DVD disks), you’ll need a program that can read the data on the disk and convert it, compress it, and repackage it for the desired output device, in this case the Sony PSP.
There are lots of solutions in this space, including many commercial applications you can find from mainstream publishers like Roxio, but Slysoft’s the winner here again, with its terrific and super easy-to-use CloneDVD Mobile1 program. Combined, AnyDVD and CloneDVD Mobile will set you back about $50, about the same price as two UMD movies, and it can produce output for just about any modern portable media device.
Let me step you through how I copied a recent movie, The Island from DVD disk to the Sony PSP itself. First step was to get AnyDVD running, then I launched CloneDVD Mobile and selected the output media format:
Notice that it supports producing video for Apple iPod Video devices, Windows smartphones, Creative Labs Zen Vision devices, the Archos AV 700 device and, most importantly, the Sony PSP. In fact, it offers two different PSP video formats: AVC/H264 and MP4. The former takes longer on conversion but should generate smaller movie files, so that’s what I choose, and clicked Next. Then I needed to select the DVD disk itself (obviously, you need a DVD reader in your computer for this process to work, by the way!):
Once I’d done that and cilcked on “OK” the CloneDVD Mobile program instantly figured out the disk layout and showed me all the track details and even a tiny preview:
To make a nice icon for the movie, I stepped the preview forward until it was a mnemonic frame, as you can see, rather than just a generic black screen which is how just about every movie starts. Again, I clicked Next to proceed, and:
Most DVDs have more than one audio track: make sure you select the one you want at this point (and some movies, like Hero have a default track that’s not English. In the case of Hero the default language is Chinese, in fact) and again click Next:
Just about ready to start up the program. The only step left is to specify the output device, which I’ve already done here.
A note of warning: you can specify that CloneDVD Mobile should save the output file onto your PC so you can copy it onto the PSP later, but I couldn’t get that to work properly. Instead, I recommend that you hook your PSP up to your computer before you start this process, also plug it into the wall, and just let the program write directly to the Sony PSP as it goes along.
The filenames are weird and un-mnemonic (I’m producing MAQ10001.mp4, for example) but they fit the Sony PSP’s expectations of video file names, so I would discourage you from changing them. And if I haven’t said so before, the PSP is very cranky about video files…
At this point I also recommend you change the label to something friendly and mnemonic too. I changed mine to “THE_ISLAND” as you can see in the screen shot.
You might also move the video quality slider to determine where you want to balance quality against file size. Needless to say, the higher the quality, the bigger the output file: at the very best possible quality level (25) this movie would be 683MB in size, while the worst quality (5) shrinks it down to an unviewable but impressively small 193MB. I always go for the middle value of 15, which in this case is estimated to produce a 438MB output movie file.
And yes, this means that you need that much space on your PSP Memory Stick for this process to work. I highly recommend that you buy at least a 1GB Memory Stick if you’re playing with video. I have a 2GB stick, personally, and love having three movies neatly stored on the device for viewing anytime.
Everything looks good, so let’s Go!
This is the screen you’ll now see while the CloneDVD Mobile program is running. This is not a blindingly fast process: The Island took over two hours on my Pentium WinXP box to convert. That might be dramatically faster or slower than your own computer depending on DVD disk speed, RAM, CPU speed, and various other factors.
After some time passes (I went out for a walk, personally) you’ll eventually see this cheery message:
Done! Hurray, finally a very painless way to push your favorite DVD movies onto the Sony PSP and just about any other portable video device.
Even better, it looks great:
It’s not much work, but there’s a lot of time involved. If you have a big disk, you can certainly create a nice archive of your favorite films in PSP format, then once someone comes out with a decent PSP hard disk (which I can’t believe isn’t already on the market) you could easily travel with 10, 20, even 100 of your favorites.