For a considerable number of years, DVDs have been central to many people's enjoyment of movies. For many individuals, viewing the latest blockbuster from the comfort of their own homes is preferable to visiting the local cinema. With the advent of cross-border retail platforms on the Internet, it is possible to end up with a DVD with a different region code. This means the DVD cannot be played because it might have been sold by someone who lives in a different country.
DVDs are cost effective ways of providing a good night's entertainment and a "watch once and then sell" culture means that there are increasing numbers of DVDs from other countries available to purchase. Purchasing a region free DVD player is a straightforward solution that enables one to watch DVDs from locations outside one’s own country. A buyer needs to be aware of a number of technical issues that must be considered before purchasing a region free DVD player. Additionally, it helps to be aware of how one may go about the purchasing process online at the auction site, eBay.
What Is a Region Free DVD Player?
In an attempt to control how DVD releases were managed around the world, the major film studios asked for special mechanisms to be incorporated in all DVD players when the format was originally devised. The world was divided into six regions, and DVDs and DVD players were coded into one of these regions.
- The six regions defined were:
- Region 1: USA and Canada
- Region 2: Europe, Japan, The Middle East, North Africa, Egypt, South Africa
- Region 3: Taiwan, The Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong
- Region 4: Mexico, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Caribbean
- Region 5: Russia, Eastern Europe, India, North Korea, East and West Africa
- Region 6: China
Put simply, a DVD cannot play unless the region code on the DVD matches the region code on the DVD player. This has been an issue in cases when individuals wanted to watch DVDs as soon as they were on sale rather than wait for film studios to release them in the local marketplace. With the advent of a widespread used DVD market functioning across borders, the problem became even more widespread. With the advent of the region free DVD player, a simple code entered using a remote control is often all that is required to play a DVD from a different region.
Types of Region Free DVD Players
A region free DVD player can be a stand-alone device that attaches directly to a TV set and provides for varied viewing pleasure. It can be a portable device, or it can be a drive that attaches to the home computer.
Stand-Alone Region Free DVD Players
Stand-alone region free DVD players are made by a variety of manufacturers. Although they tend to be provided by lesser-known electronics manufacturers, brands such as Toshiba and Sony have been entering the marketplace with their versions as well. Region free DVD players can also be found in portable formats that are great for travelling.
PC and Mac Region Free DVD Players
It is also possible to buy region free DVD players to fit inside computers. With the correct hardware, it is then possible to use DVD software to convert between NTSC/PAL and SECAM video encoding formats.
Do-It-Yourself Region Free DVD Players
Armed with suitable code sequences and a DVD player's remote control, it is possible to reset the region coding on models manufactured by a wide variety of companies. CDs with instructions on how to reprogram machines are readily available from online shopping platforms, and for the cost of a few pounds, can extend the life of many DVD players. Simple instructions and sequences of code numbers are provided to work with a large number of models.
Special Features in Region Free DVD Players
Region Free DVD players may be offered for sale with a dazzling array of additional technical features. It is not always clear what the specifications mean, and indications about the additional benefits to the consumer can sometimes be unclear.
A region free DVD player can have an HDMI interface. HDMI interfaces are standard interfaces designed to allow a variety of multimedia devices such as DVD players and video cameras to connect together.
If a region free DVD player is fitted with an HDMI interface and is to be used with an HD-ready TV set that presents pictures in high definition, further improvement in picture quality can be achieved if the DVD player has an upscaling feature. HD TV sets can automatically upgrade signal qualities to an HD standard, but upscaling DVD provides even better improvements by upgrading the DVD signal before it reaches the TV set.
1080p is a high definition TV standard. Typically, it means a picture is presented with 1080 lines and does not use interlinking technology to refresh the screen. 1080p technology presents images in a crisp and stable format for easy viewing.
Blu-ray is a format for storing video and films and was designed as an alternative to the DVD format. Region free DVD players that are Blu-ray compatible are actually Blu-ray players that read the older DVD format. They use similar technologies to avoid the restrictions of region-specific DVDs and play them region free with a much higher visual and audio quality.
Video Encoding Formats
The way that video signals are encoded also varies across the world. There are three main video formats used to encode video signals for storage. PAL, NTSC, and SECAM formats all code video signals in completely different ways.
PAL, or Phase Alternating Line, is a colour encoding system that is used to encode broadcast signals in many counties across the world. Much of Europe, excluding France, as well as Africa and Asia, use this video encoding format in TV sets.
NTSC, short for National Television System Committee, is the video encoding standard that is used across North America and South America. This format requires specific TV sets to process signals into pictures.
SECAM is the French defined system that is used for encoding colour television signals. It was the first European standard and has been adopted in France. It is also widely used across West Africa and Russia.
DVDs sold in a particular region are encoded for the video format that is used in that region. So, a DVD purchased in the UK is Region 2, PAL encoded. A region free DVD player has the ability to read DVD content in all three formats and, if necessary, convert to a different encoding in order to be seen on a TV set.
Buying Region Free DVD Players on eBay
When it comes to buying a region free DVD player, there are be a surprising number of listings that an eBay shopper can choose from. To find out the selection of this type of DVD players listed on eBay, simply log on to the website and enter "region free DVD player&" into the search bar on any page. This general search provides listings that give you an overall idea about the types of region free DVD players available for sale on eBay.
It helps to narrow down the search and make the list more manageable. You can do this by entering a more specific search term, such as "region free Blu-ray DVD player&". With searching as easy as this, it does not take long for someone who is new to eBay to create specific searches and find what he or she is looking for.
An important step in purchasing the region free DVD player of your choice is to ensure that you are working with an eBay seller known for a high level of customer service. It is a good idea to review the seller’s track record in shipments to customers and quality of products delivered.
As a form of home entertainment media, DVDs have been around for a very long time and are now a mature technology that is commonly used in consumer electronics. From the consumer’s perspective, regional coding has traditionally been an inconvenience that has had to be endured. However, this has changed with the introduction of the region free DVD player. The life of a DVD can be extended as region free DVD players and kits to convert the region coding on existing DVDs become more widely available.
Being able to make purchases of this type on established platforms such as eBay means that consumers have the opportunity of extending the use of their already purchased movies. This is a suitable alternative to replacing the films in a totally different format in order to accommodate one’s DVD player. By reviewing the listings in detail on a platform such as eBay, shoppers can make fully informed purchases in this area that may be considered technical. By using eBay’s features, a consumer can rest assured that the information needed to make a purchase is presented clearly and accurately.