Compared to some of the people I know to be serious CD/DVD collectors, I must admit that I am tiny. Heh, I guess that came out a bit wrong… Well, since I am almost 1.90 m tall, I guess now it should become clear that it’s all about my CD/DVD collection, of course! Even more, each time I grab some new CDs/DVDs from Amazon, eBay or a local store, the first thing I do when I get home is to create an ISO image with all the goodies that have just been added to my collection. Once that’s over, I can just throw the discs somewhere around and forget about them…
Considering all the above, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I don’t need to bother about removing CD/DVD protections too often, but when that happens, tools like DVDFab Passkey can make the difference between having a nice ISO image on your disc to enjoy anytime you wish and doing it the old way by inserting the disc into your drive every time you want to see/hear it.
As you probably imagined already, what I have here is the trial version of DVDFab Passkey for DVD 184.108.40.206, a version released back in late January – on the 28th, to be more accurate. This 30 days trial version also includes the free Passkey Lite, a version that can be used for as long as you wish that still allows you to watch any DVD without region limits and remove some of the DVD/Blu-ray protections that can be taken out by the $40 commercial edition.
Fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 in both their 32 and 64 bit flavors, DVDFab Passkey for DVD 8 only needs a PC strong enough to run the Windows version installed on it and, obviously, a CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive.
Coming inside a 1.9 MB setup package, this program is very easy to install and the only thing I didn’t enjoy during the installation was the last screen – as you can see in the fifth screenshot at the end of this article, DVDFab Passkey requires a reboot to work. On the other hand, this is something normal, considering that we’re actually talking about a driver that gets busy as soon as you insert a CD, DVD or Blu-ray in your drive… so everything’s great here, especially since the setup program offers multilanguage support and doesn’t bug you with toolbars or, worst of all, spyware.
Since we’re talking about more of a driver than a program as we all know Windows programs, there’s not much to say about the interface. Think about DAEMON Tools and you’ll see that DVDFab Passkey is pretty much the same thing when it comes to user interaction. Just… look at the screenshots and you’ll get the idea, all right? For me, DVDFab Passkey’s interface is as good as it gets, despite the fact there’s no eye candy or step-by-step wizzies to guide you – after all, there’s not that much to do, since the program does most of the work without requiring any input from its user.
I know it may sound pretty lame, but I think the best description of this program’s features is the official one, so here it goes: “Passkey for DVD is a Windows-based driver that works on-the-fly to unprotect encrypted DVD discs. It can remove all known DVD copy protections and region codes just in seconds to help you watch any DVD movie with no limitation, allows you to use any software, including DVDFab DVD Copy and DVD Ripper, to access unencrypted DVD contents to copy, burn, clone them, and so on.”
In my case, it was a Craig Ferguson video DVD that I took for a spin and, thanks to DVDFab Passkey, I found that this DVD had some protection enabled. Obviously, I didn’t have to do anything to remove that protection – the driver did it all for me. To be honest, I don’t deal with protected discs too often, so I am not falling off my chair when I see the impressive list of protections that can be removed on the fly by Passkey – CSS, CPRM, CPPM, RC, RCE, APS, UOPs, ARccOS, RipGuard, FluxDVD, CORE X2 (all these for DVDs), not to mention those protected audio CDs or Blu-ray protections such as AACS, BD+, Region Code, BD-Live and UOPs.
Messing with the settings is pretty easy, especially since the program is available in a lot of languages, but I was really sad to notice that the Tutorial link from the program’s menu leads to a Web page without any tutorials to be found. In fact, all the help I could get there is this phrase: “Passkey for Blu-ray is a Windows-based driver that works on-the-fly to unprotect encrypted Blu-ray movies.” So much for stating the obvious… especially since we’re talking about DVDFab Passkey for DVD. Well… I guess nothing’s perfect, after all.
“Install, restart, let it get the job done and enjoy your discs,” I guess that’s all, folks!
Tips & Tricks
1. Sometimes, using DVDFab Passkey is illegal, especially when you make more than one backup copy for each of your original discs…
2. To change the language, go to Settings> General and use the drop down menu to select the one you want to use.
3. If you want to disable the internal log or change the location of the file, go to Settings> Diagnosis – it’s the only option you’ll find there, but I think this isn’t exactly something obvious.
DVDFab Passkey 8.0 works as advertised – at least it worked with my DVD, doesn’t have any problems running on XP, Vista or 7, including their 64-bit versions and, once the trial version expires, you still get a free lite edition to be forever yours. Sweet!
Some documentation would be great, but other than that… everything seems perfect to me!
One of my friends is crazy about backing up his stuff and, when I need any CD/DVD/Blu-ray copy/conversion/ripping tools, I know who can provide me with the right information. This time, I hope I’ll be the one to provide him with a great tip, because DVDFab Passkey is surely one great piece of code (“great” means “good enough to give it those 5 stars” but not “best tool ever,” I guess you got the idea).
All in all, I really was impressed by this tool and I’ll surely keep it around. My advice? No matter if you need it or not, grab DVDFab Passkey and take it for a spin – you probably need it already, only that you don’t know it yet…