Playing DVDs On An IPad

[Harrison Jackson] figured out how to add DVD playback to an iPad. It doesn’t require a jailbreak, or any hardware modifications to your prized tablet. The work is done with some server-side processing and played back through the browser.

The popular open-source multimedia player VLC has the ability to encode from the command line during playback. [Harry’s] option flag mastery of the program allows him to convert a DVD to a 320×240 format that is iPad friendly. But this alone doesn’t get the video any closer to being on the iDevice. You’ll need to be running a webserver that can stream video. This example is on OSX, but since he’s using an Apache server it should be simple to reproduce on any Unix variant. Once you’ve enabled m3u8 files in the Apache mime-types, the iPad browser can be pointed to the file address VLC is kicking out and you’ll be watching a movie in no time.

We’ve wondered about replacing our home theater front-end with an ATV 2 running XBMC but the thought of having no optical drive in the living room requires some contemplation. If this becomes a feasible option (that isn’t downscaled from DVD quality) it will be a no-brainer to make that jump.

Don’t miss the demo video after the break. Full instruction are in the comment section of that clip.


25 thoughts on “Playing DVDs On An IPad

  1. Hmm, I seem to recall that both DVD’s and iPads are much higher resolution than the “320×240 format that is iPad friendly.” Youtube on your iPad will be of a higher quality.

  2. @Joe – I suspect the resolution was choosen for smooth transcoding. A more powerful machine could possibly transcode at a higher resolution.

    Personally, I’d rather just make the slight additional effort to rip to an AVI (or whatever compatible format you prefer) and play it locally on the device. Considering there is transcription software that’s nearly drag and drop, the effort isn’t even much greater (less work, more time waiting).

  3. .. But I should add, kudos for getting streaming working. I should bookmark this, I tried to use VLC to transcode a NASA stream to my phone for easy watching in the yard once (attempting to watch a launch from Wallops) and had no luck getting the formats right.

  4. This is considered a hack? Using existing software? And you don’t need to hack (jb)? I’m fairly sure there’s an application in the store to do this for you.

    Or since you’re using preassembled software, you might as well use VirtualDub or something to convert the file into MP4.

    There’s my hack. NOW FRONTPAGE ME.

  5. @whatnow? n m1ndtr1p
    why less effort its not fun if it is less these days lazy lazy lazy.why do it you ask? because he can. more effort more fun.

    i was thinking that it was cool. you could put all your DVDs in a CD changer and program it to load and play remotely from the net. then you could have all your DVDs at hand and not use all your memory on the i pad.

  6. Uh. This is exactly what VLC has been designed to do. . . .

    browse youtube for ‘VLC Video wall’ or the like.

    And these days it takes very little cpu power to transcode a DVD to some other similar or smaller sized format; On an old multi-screen setup we used VLC to broadcast hd format video (an advertising / attract loop and promotions etc) to a variety of endpoints (multimedia receivers and other computers running VLC) because it was more convenient than purchasing a large multi-out HDMI splitter/repeater rig.

  7. . . . also, the over use of majestic plural is starting to get old in posts here.

    VLC is more than capable of streaming high quality dvd mpeg to a huge number of devices etc. (like a patched apple 1st gen apple tv).
    I can’t speak as to the possibility of it on the atv 2; maybe the jailbreakers have a app for it. Far more flexible to run a mac mine, hackintosh or htpc of some flavor. Boxee (cross platform) should be able to play http streams if I recall. Check their forums.

  8. This is why I got fed up with apple why should one need that many steps and an additional webserver to easily play videos on a device that is in the proper size format to watch videos on are usb ports that hard to implement?
    Even special proprietary apple usb drives that snap into the body of it.
    wireless usb would be ok too.

  9. Please don’t tell apple and apple users about the capabilities of VLC, if the average idiot learns how to use it then videolan will be destroyed in no time by the big boys since they don’t want the masses to have such functionality.
    Be glad with what you have and learn that sharing is sometimes very very bad. Loose lips sink ships.

    So kudos to this guy for pretending it can only do low resolution and you need to run a webserver :)

  10. @tooth

    So if I toss a bog standard DLNA server on my home rig, set up a VPN to my office to play my media files…

    This is a hack that should definitely posted? If that’s the case, I’ll write it up immediately.

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