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iLoad now rips DVDs direct to iPod. iPhone incompatible.

iLoad is a product that rips DVDs and CDs directly to your iPod.

Photo of DVD being inserted into Wingspan iLoad.
Ripping DVDs directly to your iPod sounds like a good idea, but is it kosher?
Donald Bell / CNET Networks

I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't heard of the Wingspan iLoad. Until recently, the product's only claim to fame was that it enabled you to rip CDs directly to your iPod without having to involve your computer. It was a handy tool for iTunes-haters and Luddites, but at $300 it wasn't a terribly compelling product. Just this past month, however, Wingspan published a firmware update that allows the iLoad to rip any DVD movie directly to an iPod. We've tested it, and it works (although not with the iPhone). In fact the video quality is quite good, despite the fact that it tops out at a maximum resolution of 320x240.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder about the legal issues surrounding a product like this. I'm giving Wingspan the benefit of the doubt (although that ugliness with iLounge left a bad taste in my mouth), but isn't it conventional wisdom that ripping DVDs is technically illegal under most circumstances? Hell, I love ripping DVDs with Handbrake as much as the next guy, but I do so knowing that I'm treading into a legal gray area. There's a reason OS X and Windows don't bundle DVD-ripping utilities, right?

The iLoad seems to skirt this legal thorniness in an interesting way. It can't rip protected DVDs out of the box, but if you've connected the iLoad to the Internet it will help you find a "third-party solution" for copying the DVD. It doesn't say what the solution is, but it finds it pretty quickly, downloads it, and then asks you to confirm that the copy is for "personal use." After that, you're off and running--or crawling, actually. The iLoad is not swift.

Photo of iLoad screen.
Technically, the iLoad doesn't rip copy-protected DVDs. But it will find a mysterious 'solution' to solve that problem. Donald Bell / CNET Networks

So what do you think? Legal issues aside, would you buy one?

You can read my full iLoad review on CNET, and take a look at our iLoad slide show as well.