just tried out handbrake for first time.
not bad at all. the colors were skewed a little vs. the source, which in this case was a high quality DVD. an oddity that likely has nothing to do with Handbrake: on my setup the default player for mkv would be DivX... when I play the file with DivX it routes audio to the system device which is a common Realtek high def part, and the sound is the PC output rather than HDMI, and I couldn't find a way to alter. With VLC its correct.