...Every time I explore new software app I have to learn its quirks. I guess I don't have a lot of patience...
Yes, lots of folks are not interested in taking time to research some of these converting/encoding issues-- ie. should I use lumgain and/or adaptive quantization and what setting, what's the correct DC precision for DVD-5, what's deadzone quantization, etc.--and then
running 2-pass trials to compare output. Many people are too busy so they buy an easy one-click software and call it a day. I've done exactly that on occasion when it seemed like a complicated software required a PhD.
Especially with freeware you're on your own as far as researching/determining optimum settings without any support, but the journey sure can be fun with something like HC encoder based tools.
btw- thanks for the DVD player and AviDemux 2.4 advice.