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How to Play DVDs in Different Regions

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How to Play DVDs in Different Regions
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How to Play DVDs in Different Regions

Before buying a DVD online, buyers should first understand the technologies required to watch a DVD from overseas. With the advent of the Internet and online retail platforms such as eBay, it is now possible to buy DVDs from overseas before they are released at home, and this presents a real problem for people shopping for DVDs online.

DVD pricing and market conditions are often different overseas than at home, so buyers often find that they can buy DVDs at cheaper prices online from overseas sellers.

Unfortunately this is exactly the type of activity that major film studios want to prevent, so there are mechanisms designed to keep it from happening. Shoppers who want to buy competitively priced DVDs from overseas need a clear understanding of how to overcome the technical issues this raises. Some simple technical knowledge can make any DVD player flexible enough to play a DVD from any region.

What Are DVD Regions?

When the DVD format was being developed, the film industry wanted to ensure they had maximum control over the release of film titles in the new format. To maximise revenue, the major studios wanted to be able ensure that a title was released across the world at different times so that premium pricing could be maintained.

A group of electronics manufacturers created a system of six region codes that covered all of the world's licensing territories. This was eventually increased to include a Region 0, Region 7 and Region 8. The table below lists each region and the area it covers.

Region Code

Area

Region 0

Commonly referred to as region free

Region 1

United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. territories

Region 2

UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Middle East, Swaziland, and Lesotho

Region 3

Southeast and East Asia

Region 4

Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Oceania, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, and South America

Region 5

Russia, India, Africa, North Korea and Mongolia

Region 6

China

Region 7

Reserved for future use

Region 8

Cruise ships and aircraft

Philips, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic are the businesses behind the creation of the new format. Because they wanted the major film studios to back their new format, they responded by placing two settings on the new equipment, one on the DVD and one in the DVD player. For any DVD to play, the DVD and its player must have settings that match. Thus, DVD players prevented users from watching DVDs with a different region code than that of the DVD player.

As the Internet became more universal, savvy shoppers began using platforms such as eBay to purchase DVDs from overseas sellers before they were officially released in their home territories. This led to a demand for ways around the strict DVD region coding. Since DVD region coding is not enshrined in law, it is perfectly legal to find ways around it.

DVD Players and Television Formats

Video standards vary across different territories. The three main standards used across the world are PAL, NTSC and SECAM.

Video Standard

Territories Where Used

PAL

Europe, excluding France, Asia, Australasia, east and southern Africa, eastern South America and Greenland

NTSC

America, Japan, western South America

SECAM

France, Russia, western Africa, Madagascar

Television formats can cause problems with multi-region DVDs and DVD players. Thus, switching a DVD player's code to Region 0 is not necessarily enough to make all DVDs watchable. A DVD player must be able to automatically convert between TV formats. Most DVD players sold today are multi-format, and can play DVDs recorded in PAL, NTSC or SECAM. To make sure they can watch any DVD, shoppers should only consider DVD players that are multi-format.

Region Free DVD Players

The major manufacturers of DVD players have been slow to create region free DVD players. This is probably because they do not want to damage their relationship with the film studios. Some region free DVD players are available, but they tend to manufactured by companies that are less well known. Increasingly, however, models from major manufacturers such as Sony, LG and Pioneer, and others are becoming available.

DVD Software Codes

Using software codes to turn a regioncoded DVD player into a region free machine is one of the most common ways to bypass DVD region coding. This usually provides a cost effective solution to the problem. However, doing so is not entirely risk free, as discussed in the next section.

What Can Go Wrong

Depending upon the DVD player's warranty, buyers who amend the DVD region code may invalidate the warranty. Buyers should consider how important the warranty is to them before amending the code. However, since DVD players are now a mature technology, prices of new models have dropped dramatically since the device's introduction several years ago. Thus, buyers may not feel the loss if the warranty is invalidated. For older DVD players with expired warranties, such consequences are not even an issue.

Unlocking the Region Code

Unlocking the region code on a DVD player is a simple procedure that only requires users to key in a numeric code with the DVD's remote control. This resets firmware codes inside the unit, and changes the current region setting (e.g. Region 2, in the UK) to a 0.

It is possible to purchase unlocking CDs with codes for a wide range of manufacturers on eBay. Using the item description it should be possible to check to see if a particular brand of DVD player is present. eBay also includes the messaging tool which allows a potential buyer to ask a specific question of a seller before they commit to a purchase.

If the relevant brand is not covered, websites such as Videohelp, DVD365, DVDHacks, AVForums offer continually expanding libraries of routines to switch a player's region coding to region free. Sites of this type are useful because they often discuss problems other people have experienced when performing this operation on their machines.

DVD Device Types

There are a number of types of DVD players that all have region coding built into their format, and similar techniques can be used to unlock each of them.

Standard DVD Players

There are many brands of standard DVD players available in the marketplace today. As the technology is now mature, there are very competitive prices to be found. Models from less well known brands are likely to be region free, but the major manufacturers are now beginning to follow suit with newer models.

Portable DVD players

For many people, watching DVDs is something to do whilst on the move. Portable DVD players feature small screens that normally range between seven and nine inches diagonally, although some models have much larger screens. They frequently have a clamshell design like a laptop computer, which allows the screen to be shut away when the player is not is use. Despite the rise of the smart phone, these devices remain important for jet setters, frequent fliers, and road-tripping parents alike. They provide a readily available form of entertainment for whiling away long hours.

Computer DVD Drives

Computer DVD drives implement the same region coding found on standalone and portable drives. The computer format likewise allows users to change region coding (up to five times), using a small software tool such as DVD43. There are also software programmes that run constantly in the background on a computer and fool the drive into thinking it has the same DVD region code as a DVD, but without the user actually changing the region code. Users should take care not to void any relevant warranties when using some of these techniques.

How to Buy Region Free DVD Players on eBay

eBay can help you find a way to play DVDs from different regions. Simply head to the eBay home page and enter "region 0 DVD players" into the search bar. eBay should return a list of region free DVD players. If the list does not contain any items you like, you can change your search phrase. eBay should suggest other phrases that might be helpful. These appear in blue underneath the search bar. Simply click on "region free DVD player" for a list of alternate items.

If you prefer to play DVDs from different regions on your existing DVD player, enter a search for "DVD region free unlocking code" for a list of CDs for sale that contain unlocking codes. Whichever search you use, eBay provides a reliable platform for you make technical purchases. Each listing clearly details a seller's returns policy, so you can be certain how issues are dealt with in the unlikely event you are disappointed with your purchase.

Conclusion

Purchasing a new DVD player or a set of DVD region free codes is a great way to make any DVD playable, regardless of its region or video format. When faced with a DVD that does not play, there are a few simple questions to consider. Buyers who do not intend to watch a large number of region free DVDs should consider investing only a few pounds in a CD that contains an extensive list of hack codes.

Where overseas DVDs are a regular part of a household's entertainment, purchasing a new region free, multi-format DVD player can be worth the money. DVD players from less well known brands are widely available. Buying such items from eBay gives the shopper an opportunity to iron out any technical issues before making a purchase. It also lets buyers determine the seller's return policy in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.

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