Why doesn't this product/service exist?

Two things that I am perfectly willing to pay money for, but are not (at least not obviously) for sale:
(1) Pay-as-you-go cell phone tethering. I have an iPhone from Verizon, and if I pay them $30 per month, they will let me use it as a mobile wi-fi hotspot. Thing is, I only very rarely have a need for this feature, but when I do need it, it would be SUPER handy. So if I could turn it on for 3 minutes twice a month, I would happily pay some slightly inflated rate per megabit for the bandwidth. But I’m sure as heck not paying $30 a month.
(2) My wife and I have bunches and bunches of DVDs and Blu-Rays. I would very much like some piece of software that lets me rip them all into a PC and then just have a library of “disks” to play, and then when playing them they actually work as DVDs or Blu-Rays, with all the menus and so forth. I know there are ways to rip them and end up with huge files with funny names, but I want something that automates the process and then just presents me with a list of my DVDs and Blu-Rays, easily searchable in various ways, and then I click on one, and it’s like I’m watching it. (Eventually then I’d want the ability to upload them to the cloud, or access them from anywhere over the internet, but I’ll certainly happily start with ripping and playing.)

You can probably already do this. The $30 price is a monthly rate, but monthly features can be added and removed on demand, so you CAN activate hotspot for a day or two at a time. The only downside is that if you have a limited data package, you’ll probably wind up splitting your bill into multiple prorated portions, so you can trigger overage if you use close to your limit normally.

No. 2— DVDs use technology to prevent ripping to disk. The anti circumvention provisions of copyright law prohibit circumvention of this technology.


My phone is an Android, and my plan is prepaid. I have unlimited data, and the ability to use the phone as a hotspot is built-in. I used it yesterday, in fact, to troubleshoot a problem with my DSL.

Well to the best of my knowledge both of those are possible. Just somewhat difficult for the second.

  1. Virgin Mobile does this with certain model phones on their unlimited data plans. It’s a $5 dollar charge for the day. The LG Optimus F3 is the one I have and it works like a charm.

  2. IANAL, but what I think your’e looking to do is make a 1 to 1 copy. Doing this leaves you with a disk image that is IDENTICAL to the origanal, with all the envryption stuff. Meaning that you didn’t circumvent the anti-circumvention additions to the copyright act, similar to buying a digital copy. But I could be wrong. To play them back you just need a piece of software to mount disk images, and your DVD software takes it from there. Problem with this is space, 1 to 1 DVD’s are between 4 and 8 GB for movies. Blu-Rays are worse.

Many companies do have “add on” data packs, which is the ability to add some data at any time.

You can find plans that do not feature huge prices for data over the limit… over the amount pre-paid or included with monthly fees… The should merely turn off your data until the data pack is bought.

For #1, PdaNet app.

If you have 4G, Verizon is banned by the FCC from constricting your usage of whatever bandwidth you pay for. Feel free to grab a third-party tetherer (like Pdanet, mentioned above) and go to town. The $30 fee is basically an “ignorance tax” meant to rip off consumers who don’t know this. Most of the non-MVNO cell phone providers function on a variety of ripoff plans because that’s what the market will bear, but there are usually lots of loopholes for more price-conscious consumers. It’s price differentiation, essentially, not that different from coupon clipping.

Sure there is. On the playback side, Plex and XMBC do wonders. On the ripping side, it is against forum rules to discuss here because of silly DMCA restrictions, but Google “how to rip dvds/blurays” and I’m sure you’ll find tons of applications. You can rip them with menus intact if you REALLY want to, but for the most part that’s just extra pain in the ass, and besides DVDs and BluRays use old compression technology that blow up file sizes larger than they need to be. Also, many Blu-Rays these days come with an UltraViolent digital edition that you can stream (and maybe even download? not sure) and watch whenver you want.

As for why these processes aren’t simpler, it’s simple: greed. Those companies don’t want you to have these things without ponying up the cash. But the Internet does want you to. So go thank a hacker…

What $30 per month?

As far as I’ve been able to determine, pdanet requires jailbreaking my iPhone, and jailbreaking my iPhone is not currently possible with iOS 8 (nor is it something that I’m 100% sure I feel comfortable with, I guess I haven’t thought about it too much).

True, and I have that for some of the recent thing I’ve purchased such as Game of Thrones.

What I really need I think is a ripping tool that just rips the entire disk as an image, as awaag was mentioning. 4 to 8 gigs for a disk is a lot, but TB-sized HDs aren’t particularly expensive these days. But the real issue is that I just don’t care enough to spend tons of time figuring out all sorts of tricky little details myself, I just want to pay some money for a product that does it all for me (aside from physically removing and inserting the disks).

I’m currently grandfathered into the no-longer-offered unlimited data plan on Verizon, so I can’t switch to any other plan without giving up my sweet sweet unlimited data.

I was too.
I have a Galaxy S3 with 4.1 on it & it would work, for free, with an app. Once the update to 4.2 happened, that ‘feature’ was taken away & you were required to pay for tethering. The bitch of it was, I usually tethered my tablet, so all I was doing was viewing one device, but one w/ a larger screen, though occasionally I’d use my home computer (if dsl was down), but again only one device was being used. Sorry, but it wasn’t worth a few hundred dollars more per year to keep what I had.
They were planning on throttling the unlimited data users as another way to piss you off & get you off of that plan. Worked in my case, I was an average user (≈2.5Gb/mo) & now they get $0 from me. Assholes!

If you can still find a phone with Android 4.1 on it, you’re good (though I heard some rumors that it works again if you’re on a version later than 4.2, but I can’t confirm this.)

Ref your number (2) there is some software available that rips DVDs and Blu Rays to an ISO image - complete with all menus etc. You then just use ISO mounting software and it behaves exactly like a disk loaded into a computer. The products are commercially available from http://www.slysoft.com/en/ but it’s up to you to find out if such copies are legal in your jurisdiction…

Hate it say this, but that’s the Apple way. They want you to use their phones as they intended (and as their carrier partners pressure), not the way you want to. Most Android phones can do this with some effort (rooting vs jailbreaking), and it’s a big part of the reason to stick with a grandfathered unlimited plan.

If you’re really gung-ho about this, you can stick your 4GLTE SIM card into a separate cellular modem (like a used Verizon Jetpack). Because you’re on Verizon and they use this horribly complicated hybrid network technology, it’s actually possible to have (under the same plan) the 3G connection one device and the 4G data connection on another – part of the stipulations they got, but don’t advertise, when they bought 4G spectrum from the FCC. Your iPhone will still use their 3G phone network for phone calls while your modem uses the 4G SIM for data. One account, two devices, no extra fees except the cost of the modem. Then you tether your iPhone to your 4G standalone modem via WiFi for all data purposes. Once set up, it should be pretty seamless. Bonus is that any other devices you have (laptop, whatever) can also use that same WiFi connection.

On an Android phone, many ROMs have this baked in and you can just click a button to enable 4G to WiFi hotspot functionality in a click, for free.

Definitely, and I’m generally speaking OK with that. What irks me is that I am absolutely willing to pay Verizon money for something that basically costs them nothing, but they won’t let me. For the flexibility I want I would pay a quite overinflated dollars-per-megabit rate… but not $30 a month overinflated.

Dunno if this helps, but if you work for a big chain corporation, or have an educational alumnus email ending in .edu (because they can’t easily tell who’s a student and who works for the university, and many university systems have deals with them), check their employer discount page. You can often get 20%-25% off monthly fees, which could help pay for something like that.