I agree with you concerning free tools by the way. I see very little need for commercial products when backing up movies, with the exception of decryption. MakeMKV is the only free decryption program that is updated quickly, and even it lags a little behind the commercial version of DVDFab and AnyDVD in this.
Over the years I have only invested in one program in this category and that is AnyDVD HD. It is a program meant for decryption only, and the HD version of AnyDVD works with both Blu-ray and DVD video (also the dead HD-DVD format). The folks at Slysoft are responsive to new encryption as it is released, and they update regularly. They also offer a lifetime version of the program, so your copy does not expire. Not inexpensive however.
Everything else can be done with outstanding quality with free tools. DVD Rebuilder is head and shoulders above the commercial tools in output quality because it can use the HCenc encoder. The other programs use an inferior compression process when backing up DVD-video.
AVStoDVD is a free program that can convert various types of files (avi, mp4, mkv, m2ts, etc.) to DVD-video. It is also virtually peerless in this since it too can use the HCenc encoder. Output is superior to that of most other programs that do this process since they typically use ffmpeg. And while ffmpeg is a fine open source software, its mpeg2 output leaves something to be desired.
If you ever move on to Blu-ray, or conversion of video for portable devices, these categories are also well represented by free software, that I find superior in virtually every way to the commercial products.
BD Rebuilder is unmatched in backing up Blu-ray discs, and is amazingly versatile. Not a decrypter, so you’d have to combine it with MakeMKV in Backup mode if you wanted to stick with free tools.
Handbrake and VidCoder are two of the most popular choices for conversion of DVD-video or Blu-ray to MP4 or MKV files. Again, these free tools are capable of surpassing commercial products in their output.
So what use are the commercial programs? As far as I can see they exist only for those who are too uncertain to go without official support (which isn’t always forthcoming), or they are meant for those who simply don’t want to learn how to use the free tools. The commercial programs are built for [B]speed [/B]and [B]convenience[/B], and many are hard to adjust to get optimal quality output.