Get five free DVD-to-digital conversions from Flixster

Just pop any movie you own into your Windows PC or Mac and Flixster will add it to your cloud collection for easy viewing on other devices.

Registered Flixster users can add five DVD movies to their cloud collection, no charge.
Registered Flixster users can add five DVD movies to their cloud collection, no charge. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

You know what my iPad doesn't have? A DVD player. So how am I supposed to watch all the great movies in my DVD collection? I'm talking "The Rock," "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Incredibles," "The Matrix," and so on. (It's true: I have awesome taste in movies.)

No doubt Apple, Amazon, and Google would love for me to buy their digital versions of all my platter-based movies, but I already bought them once. Do I really have to spend $10 to $15 to buy them again?

Not today. Movie-discovery and -streaming service Flixster is offering five free disc-to-digital conversions when you install the Flixster Desktop app on your Windows PC or Mac.

To take advantage of the deal, you'll need both Flixster and UltraViolet accounts. The latter is effectively the cloud hub for your converted DVD collection, though ultimately you'll use Flixster -- either on the Web or on your mobile device -- to stream and/or download the movies.

Conversion works like this: Pop a DVD into your PC, then wait a few seconds while the software reads it. If it's available for a conversion, just approve the "purchase" (again, you've got credit for five free ones), then wait a few more seconds until the disc pops out. That's all there is to it; there's no ripping involved here or anything like that, merely verification that you own a legitimate copy of the movie.

Now for the caveats. First, not all movies are available for conversion. Of the four I tried, only "The Shawshank Redemption" worked. "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Incredibles," and "Master and Commander" did not. That's because not all the movie studios are onboard for this disc-to-digital thing. (Losers.)

What's more, Flixster doesn't currently support Blu-ray movies. And if you want to up-convert your DVDs to HD (not necessary for mobile viewing, but nice for bigger screens), it'll cost you $5 per -- and the freebie promo doesn't cover that. Otherwise, additional SD conversions cost $2 each -- not a bad price, especially considering that you can do it right at home, no trip to Walmart required.

It's worth noting that Vudu is currently offering a similar promotion, but for only one free DVD-to-digital conversion. You can also do Blu-rays (and for just $2 each!), but again the DVD-to-HD upcharge is $5 and not included.

Ultimately, this is a great way to test-drive the whole disc-to-digital concept. Mere seconds after converting "The Shawshank Redemption," I found I could download or stream it on my iPhone. If I'd purchased it from iTunes, it would have cost me $14.99.

 

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