Turn your old DVDs into HD digital copies

Vudu's new service lets you revive your dusty old discs -- for a fee, of course. But your first conversion is free!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
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I have a drawer full of DVDs. Some Blu-rays, too. But I don't even have a player plugged in right now; that's how long it's been since a watched a movie on physical media. (What is this, 2012?)

On the other hand, I bought and paid for all those movies, so it seems like I should be able to enjoy them, right? Without having to re-buy their digital counterparts?

Actually, what if you could convert those DVDs to digital for $2 apiece? That's the idea behind Vudu's newly updated Disc to Digital service, which lets you scan DVD and Blu-ray bar codes for quick conversion.

Dust off those discs

It works like this: Assuming you already have a Vudu account, just install the Vudu app on your phone or tablet, sign in, then tap Menu and choose Disc to Digital.

For this to work, you'll need to enable location services -- meaning allow the app to use your device's GPS. On my iPhone , I had to allow full-time access, not just "while using the app." Otherwise it couldn't properly register my location.

With that done, I used the app to scan around a dozen movies -- DVDs and Blu-rays alike. Although it's very quick to scan, it's also very quick to report failure: "Star Wars Episode IV," "The Avengers," "Spider-Man 2" and some other pretty mainstream titles weren't on the approved list. Although most of the major studios are onboard with Vudu's service, currently only about 8,000 movies can be converted.

Finally I found a winner: "Fantastic Mr. Fox." However, after you complete your scans (you can do more than one movie at a time), you have to wait for a confirmation email to actually complete the purchase. Thankfully, mine arrived almost instantly.

Once a movie's been converted, you can watch it anywhere Vudu lives: browser, mobile app, streaming box, etc.

Let's do the math

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Your first conversion is free, which is awesome. After that, you can convert a DVD to Vudu's standard-definition (SD) format for $2. Want to "upscale" to Vudu's ultra-high-def (HDX) format? That'll run you $5. However, a straight conversion from Blu-ray to HDX (which is your only option) is also just $2.

Deal or no deal? I don't remember what I paid for the original DVD, but Vudu currently charges $13.99 to own the movie in digital format (SD or HDX -- same price). Amazon also charges $13.99, while Google Play and iTunes sell it for $14.99.

So $2 to get into the digital game? I'd say if you're looking to breathe new life into your old physical-media movie library, Vudu's Disc to Digital is a great option -- assuming any of your movies qualify for conversion.

Your thoughts?