I often require videos that have subtitles so that my grandchildren can connect text to words when watching videos. Of course this is a given when one is watching original DVDs as almost all of them come with subtitles. But like many, I value may original DVDs even the ones for children and I prefer convert DVD movies to formats that I can store on a hard drive and get the kids to watch from these rather than expose the DVDs to mishandling and total destruction. In addition, I also like the subtitles to be displayed as an option -- I want to be able to watch these movies without subtitles when I want to.
I know that DVD Shrink and DVDFab can do ripping to VOB files which will contain subtitles that can be either selected or not selected; but these are always about 4 gb in size. To save space I prefer to convert to other video formats and much smaller files.
I have had trouble with subtitles in the sense that some software that do conversions only allow subtitles to be "burned in", and not have the option of leaving them off. To qualify this, I must say that my main player is VLC and I am not particular about the converted file being a MP4, or mkv, or any other "format" since VLC is very versatile and can handle almost every kind of video file. As long as I am able to to select and display subtitles with VLC, I am happy. I have also found that Media Player Classic is a good alternative to VLC and when VLC meets a file that it cannot play for some reason or other -- and this is not that frequent -- MPC will happily play the file.
I tried Handbrake, WinX DVD ripper and DVD Videosoft's Freevideo and of these three I like WinX the most, and Handbrake the least. With Handbrake converting DVD files to mkv, I could never get subtitles that I was able to switch off despite trying several of the options available. Also, with Handbrake, some MP4 conversions got me very huge sized movie files, well above 10 gigabytes. With Freevideo I get subtitles that I can switch on and off at will but sometimes the wide screen of the original gets converted into some other aspect ratio. Perhaps I am not selecting the correct options during conversion. WinX so far has not given me any trouble with aspect size or subtitles.
DVD VideoSoft, I found, is useful for converting already ripped dvds to mp4 or avi. The FREE DVD VIDEO CONVERTER converts files in a Video_TS folder containing subtitles to MP4/AVI. Subtitles can be retained, but the resultant file is best played with Media Player Classic. For some reason, it is not fully compatible with VLC.