A Buyers Guide to Avoiding Low Quality DVDs

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A Buyers Guide to Avoiding Low Quality DVDs

The development of the digital compact disc, or DVD, meant that people could watch their favourite movies and television shows in a higher resolution, without having to deal with bulky, cumbersome, and ugly videocassettes. Even as technology has progressed to the point where Blu-ray offers a better picture, DVD is still popular. A DVD is inexpensive, portable, and can be stored easily without taking up a lot of space. Along with the benefits that come with watching a movie or television show on DVD, there are problems as well. Namely, DVDs can be easily pirated, and DVDs of inferior quality can be burned by just about anyone. This is an issue for anyone buying DVDs in stores, but especially online where there is less oversight on DVD quality.

There are, however, a few things that any buyer can look for, in order to avoid low quality DVDs, such as examining the specifications of an individual DVD, the product’s point of origin, and the packaging. Understanding the differences in DVDs permits anyone to find exactly what they want online, especially with a market place such as eBay. With an expansive search platform in front of any users, filtering out the lower quality DVDs becomes a much easier task.

DVD Specifications

All DVDs that are created by notable members of the film industry, have in-built specifications. These specifications are actually designed to help the producers and distributors of film and television to maximise their profits. At the same time, these same specifications help buyers to verify that a particular DVD is an official product and not a bootleg or pirated copy.

Region Coding

When a DVD is first created, it is coded so that it can only be used in DVD players within a certain geographical region. This means that those who live in Europe, cannot watch a movie that was made for viewers in Canada or the United States without the proper equipment. This is also the case with movies and television shows made by virtually every major studio or production house around the world. All encoding should function in a similar manner regardless of who made it. Many bootleggers, and those who sell inferior illegal copies of DVDs, do not follow coding guidelines so as to increase their customer base. Any DVDs that are sold as being region free, are usually illegal and of poor quality.

Region Code

Geographic Region


Region 0 is not used by anyone, although they can be used by DVD players in any region. If a DVD is labelled Region 0, it is most definitely a bootleg.


Canada and the United States


Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland


South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia


Australia, New Zealand, Latin America


Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, India




Reserved for upcoming releases or other unspecified use.


Used for airlines and cruise ships.

Region All

Region All is often used in the same way as Region 0, but is more commonly used to refer to DVD players that have been illegally modified to play discs from any region.

It is important to note that the region coding for a DVD is not the same as the region coding for a Blu-ray. There are fewer regions when it comes to Blu-ray. For example, Canada, The United States, and Latin America, are all one region with Blu-ray.


A DVD-9 is also known as a dual-layer DVD, and is used by movie studios frequently because they can store more information, such as special features. A DVD that does not have dual-layer technology is known as a DVD-5. Both are used when making official, legal DVDs, but there is a slight difference in quality. Many illegal bootleg or pirated DVDs try to establish their credibility by labelling the disc or the packaging with 'DVD-9'. Any legitimate DVD is not be labelled as such, and this erroneous label is a definite red flag that can be used to determine if a DVD is of low quality.

DVD Point of Origin

While bootleg DVDs can be made anywhere by anyone with a computer or a camcorder, in many cases, low quality DVDs have their origins in China and Southeast Asia. The reason for this is that in many nations in this region, there is very little governmental oversight of DVD manufacturing. As a result, it is possible for bootleggers and pirates to create low quality, and even illegal, DVDs on a massive scale. This is particularly an issue in the case of anime and other media that is produced Asia. If it is obvious that the seller of an individual DVD is based in Southeast Asia, it might be a good idea to look very closely at what they have to offer before making any purchase. Also, if any DVD or DVD packaging has writing in Chinese or any other Asian language, it is most likely a counterfeit, as no legitimate company would create such packaging, unless the DVD were intended for sale in a specific region.

DVD Packaging

One of the most telling indicators of a low quality DVD that has been illegally created is that it has packaging different, or inferior to, that made by a legitimate company. For the most part, a DVD that is made by a legitimate distributor is sealed and labelled in a consistent way. In most cases, there is a proof of purchase tab on the paper cover inside of the DVD case itself that can help buyers verify the legitimacy of their purchase. This may be more difficult in regard to used DVDs, but even then, there are clear ways to determine if a DVD is real or fake.

The Paper Cover

The paper cover is usually a good way to determine if a seller is offering a legitimate item. In many cases, bootleggers who are peddling low quality DVDs do not recreate the actual paper cover of a DVD. In many cases, the paper cover is a bizarre mishmash of photos and quotes from other movies. Sometimes it is more subtle, and the discrepancy found by looking closer at the finer details, such as the proof of purchase.

Paying Attention to the Print

Another factor commonly found in poor quality DVDs is that the paper cover is printed with inferior methods, such as using a home inkjet printer. This can result in the colour in the photos appearing faded or washed out. Likewise, if the paper itself seems to be common printer paper, or anything other than the glossy paper used for legitimate DVDs, there might be a problem. Any legitimate seller should provide photos that clearly reveal what is being sold, allowing buyers to easily determine if it is a good quality DVD or not. If the seller refuses to post photos, or if the paper cover itself is missing, this could indicate a possible counterfeit as well.


Much as the paper cover can be created in a less than convincing manner, the disc itself can be made poorly as well. In many cases with low quality DVDs, the disc is a burnable DVD-R that has a label printed on it with an inkjet printer. A DVD-R is also thinner and less sturdy than a real DVD, especially in the case with a DVD-9. Many legitimate DVD manufacturers split their DVDs into two discs, one for the movie and one for the special features. This is not always the case, but bootleggers often attempt to cram everything onto one disk. If a DVD is supposed to be a two-disc set, both discs should be present and have the appropriate features on them. This also applies to television shows on DVD, where episodes are spaced between several discs. Bootleg copies often have all, or most episodes on one disc. In some cases, there may be an additional disc with one or two leftover episodes on it. Any DVD that does not have movies, television episodes, or special features distributed equally between discs is likely to be fake.

Buying High Quality DVDs on eBay

While there are many online venues for buying DVDs, there are many legitimate sellers of DVDs on eBay who can offer competitive prices and fast shipping. In many cases, buyers can find rare or out of print DVDs on eBay that they would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. While finding a specific DVD is made easy on eBay by entering the title in the search bar on the homepage, buyers can also browse through a larger selection by typing something such as 'used DVDs'. This type of search technique brings up many options for multiple titles.

Read Seller Feedback

A reliable way to determine if a seller has legitimate DVD options, is to simply read their feedback. If other buyers have complained about poor quality or bootleg DVDs, you should try to stay away from them in general. Likewise, if a seller is offering everything except DVDs, and has a profile that has existed for three months or less, caution may be advised. Buyers who are pleased with a purchase usually leave positive feedback, which also appears in a seller profile.


DVDs are an easy way to enjoy movies and television shows from the comfort and privacy of one's own home. Many home theatre systems are designed to allow people to enjoy their DVDs on large, high definition screens. However, this enjoyment can be greatly diminished if the DVD is of poor quality, due to it being a fake or bootleg. Many buyers may be unaware that they are getting a low quality DVD, but there are steps that one can take to avoid this problem.

DVD manufacturers have some safeguards in place that ensure that DVDs can only be played in specific geographical regions. Any DVD that purports to work on a global scale, is sure to be a bootleg, and of poor quality. Likewise, many pirated movies and bootlegs come from China and Southeast Asia, and buyers should beware of sellers or DVD from that region. Finally, bootleggers often find it difficult to exactly replicate the style and quality of the original packaging. A careful examination can be helpful in determining if a DVD is real or not. With a careful study of each DVD being sold, a buyer can ensure that everything they watch is of the highest quality.

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