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The Purpose of This Guide
The three software titles up for comparison are, in no particular order: 1Click DVD Copy 5, CloneDVD 4, and DVD-Cloner IV. If you haven't already, please read my individual reviews on each of these titles. This guide will not necessarily go in depth into each (that’s what the reviews are there for!) but will merely point out the distinctions between them, and offer some suggestions to all types of users interested in this type of software.
Let me begin by specifying my criteria for this software, and the requirements that they will be compared upon. For the purpose of this guide, “DVD copying software" refers to software with the core ability to take a new, copy-protected DVD movie and copy its contents, in their entirety, onto a blank DVD-R disc. Anything else is extra, and if a DVD copying software title can’t do this--well, then it’s in trouble.
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So first of all, who doesn’t meet the main criteria? CloneDVD, believe it or not. It does not have integrated burning ability, meaning that you would need to utilize a third-party DVD burning application to burn the movie file onto a blank DVD. This alone might scare away novice users, but to be honest, I don’t feel that CloneDVD is the answer for novice users, as it definitely feels geared more towards power users. Both 1Click DVD Copy and DVD-Cloner include a burning engine, meaning that you are able to rip and burn a DVD (read the DVD disc and record it to a blank disc). Performance in this category for the two is very similar, as speed varies more based on your system specifications than the software. Neither software title had any problems burning a DVD while multitasking on my system, with zero buffer underruns and zero problems during playback. So, for burning functionality, I give a tie to 1Click DVD Copy and DVD-Cloner.
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When you think of burning a DVD movie, one thing many people love about DVDs is that there are included extras, right? So you have to be able to copy extras as well. But what if you don’t want all the extras, such as the pointless, random ones that really provide you nothing special at all? First, the good news: all three of these titles allow you to copy a complete DVD disc, including extras. When it comes to having full control of your extras, however, 1Click DVD Copy is severely lacking: it’s an all-or-none deal, with only a simple checkbox for choosing to copy all the extras. CloneDVD and DVD-Cloner share a similar benefit in this aspect, with not only the ability to select which extras get included, but also a convenient preview window--just in case you don’t remember what extra “Chapter 4" was. Additionally, the ability to select which extras you want will allow you maximize your disc—the fewer extras you have, the lower the amount of compression needed to make it all fit on a single disc, thus resulting in a higher quality disc overall. So yet another tie in this category, but this time it’s for DVD-Cloner and CloneDVD.
I’ll briefly include a section here about subtitles, as they share a similar trait with extras. This feature inclusion is basically the same as with extras. It’s an all-or-nothing deal with 1Click DVD Copy, whereas CloneDVD and DVD-Cloner allow you to select which languages you wish to include. For that reason, the result is the same as with extras, a tie between CloneDVD and DVD-Cloner .
If you’ve been keeping track of the score, that’s one point for 1Click DVD Copy, two points for CloneDVD, and a perfect three points for DVD-Cloner. Now let’s dig a little deeper to see who can conquer the late rounds.
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Ease of Use
Ease of use will be the next category for judgment, and the idea is simple—which application takes the least amount of time and effort to copy an entire DVD? CloneDVD is automatically eliminated from this category for its lack of burning ability. Don’t be dissuaded, though; CloneDVD has some amazing other features which I’ll cover later. But in the goal of a DVD-to-DVD copy, it just doesn’t have the capability. Between DVD-Cloner and 1Click DVD Copy, it’s an easy victory for DVD-Cloner. Before you can even copy any copy-protected DVD with 1Click DVD Copy, you have to go to the internet and download/install your own DVD Decrypter. I’m sorry, but for a novice user, having to install a totally separate program just to get your program to work is unacceptable. DVD-Cloner, on the other hand, is as seamless as it comes. The installation was simple, and the basic interface makes quickly copying a DVD basically effortless. So there’s another win for DVD-Cloner.
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I haven’t forgotten about you advanced users, so this next section is for you. Beginners beware, this category is not for you. This is for those users that want complete control of their DVD copying. They want the most extra, advanced, configurable features, and don’t mind working a bit to accomplish them. So let’s remove 1Click DVD Copy from consideration. It’s just too simple, with basically zero advanced features. DVD-Cloner allows you to do a lot—copy a DVD9 to a DVD9 (dual layer), copy to a DVD5, copy to two DVD5 discs, copy just the movie, or copy to your hard drive. CloneDVD not only can do everything DVD-Cloner can do, but it can also rip and compress your movie into a portable movie format (such as AVI, ASF, MPEG4, iPod, and more). That feature alone might make it worth the price of admission and makes up for its lack of DVD-burning ability. The Clone-DVD interface is advanced by default and it does a great job of proving it’s meant for advanced users. Basic users need not apply, but in the category for advanced users, CloneDVD is the runaway victor.
Those still keeping track, the score is one point for 1Click DVD Copy, three points for CloneDVD, and four points for DVD-Cloner. We’re almost at the finish; who will pull away?
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The final and most important category for many users is: the user interface. That’s right, the screen you have to see and work with any time you want to copy a DVD. The best UIs will be basic enough for novice users to have no problem using, but also contain the advanced functionality advanced users demand. CloneDVD, while clearly having distinct advantages for advanced users, also has a very efficient interface. Its progress bar, showing the amount of space available on your blank disc versus the amount of compression necessary to copy your selections, makes it surprisingly simple for a basic user to understand that they are sacrificing quality for quantity. No other software has an indicator like this; it’s a really nice addition that adds a lot in their favor. That being said, the UIs of 1Click DVD Copy and DVD-Cloner are definitely much more simplistic. In the case of 1Click DVD Copy, it’s just too simplistic. While 1Click DVD Copy’s UI is effective for beginners, advanced users will be quickly frustrated by the lack of options. Which leaves us with the winner in this category: DVD-Cloner. By default, the user is greeted by a very simple, clean interface designed to easily copy a DVD. With the click of a button, you can turn on the advanced interface and see all the options your heart desires.
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The final score of this guide: 1Click DVD Copy pulled in a paltry score of one, CloneDVD made a nice comeback with three, but in the end, DVD-Cloner 4 pulls away with the win with five points!
Please keep in mind that I tried to use as balanced a method of scoring in order to decide a victor, and your needs might elect you to choose a different option. All three of these programs can do their job of copying a DVD; it’s who goes above and beyond that stands out. While DVD-Cloner was the winner based on points, for my personal use I would select CloneDVD over the other two. Its ability to not only copy DVDs to disc, but also compress the titles into AVI or other format is priceless if you travel often as I do, or have limited disk space.