Pre-recorded digital versatile discs, or DVDs, and the equipment required to enjoy them, are both important elements in the global entertainment industry. Pre-recorded DVDs manufactured by the major entertainment corporations, such as Sony and Disney, are normally sold on discs with a digitally inscribed region code. There are six of these region codes, along with three more code numbers that are not region specific. Partly, this is to help DVD content vendors manage distribution; in part too though, the system reflects differing technology standards. For example, the U.S.A. and Europe historically have had different standards governing television pictures.
When it comes to DVD recorders, the marketplace can be all the more confusing. Aside from the fact that not every vendor uses codes, the domestic practice of recording onto DVD discs is not governed by commercial concerns in the same way. Buyers should be aware of some of the issues concerning regionalisation and the features of a recorder that distinguish it from a player in order to properly choose a region 2 DVD recorder.
What are DVD Regions?
There are six DVD regions, although the coding system is numbered from zero to eight. Zero is most often used as a shortcut for setting all flags to 1, while the last two are for future designation and transnational venues respectively.
Informal setting; either have no flag set or have them set for regions 1–6; another equivalent term is "region free", especially when talking about DVD and Blu-ray players
Canada and the United States, plus Bermuda and U.S. overseas territories
Europe (apart from Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus); Egypt and the Middle East; Japan; South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho; Greenland; French Overseas departments and territories
Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau (but not mainland China)
Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America; New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Oceania
Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus; Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan; Central and South Asia, Mongolia, North Korea; Africa (excluding Egypt, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho)
Transnational public venues, such as aircraft and cruise ships
All flags set, permitting the disc to be played in any region and on any player.
Region 2 DVDs can be sub-coded D1 to D4. D1 is for U.K.- and Ireland-only releases, while D2 and D3 are continent-only releases; D4 can be distributed throughout Europe. Furthermore, as well as the ALL setting, flags can be set selectively. Many players enable users to select their region, and some jurisdictions, notably Australia and New Zealand, have warned that enforcing regional coding may violate trade legislation.
Purpose of DVD Regions
There are three main factors involved in the practice of regionalising DVDs. Two of these have to do with marketing management, while the third concerns variations in technology.
Studios recognise that people in different parts of the world evaluate DVD purchases in different ways. Regional coding keeps the control of market prices in the hands of the vendor and limits the capacity of consumers to buy across national borders.
Allied to price control is the objective of managing release dates. The reason for this practice is simply a question of managing the marketing and distribution costs of a major movie in the most efficient way. It is worth remembering that DVD technology was in development before the advent of the World Wide Web. Modern communications have transformed the media marketing environment, so release management has become less of an issue.
Although there are different picture formats in different parts of the world, those are more of a concern with the previous generation of video recorder, the VHS player. For a long time, players have normally been capable of playing both NTSC and PAL formats, and in any case, high definition standards are making those compatibility concerns a thing of the past. There can still be difficulties that arise, but these tend to affect U.S. buyers more than U.K. and European ones.
How to Choose a DVD Recorder
With the basic concept of regional coding settled, we can now turn to some of the matters that concern the choice of player. The basic issue is to distinguish between players and recorders. After that, there are plenty of variables to take into account when seeking the ideal model.
Players vs. Recorders
DVD players can be picked up very cheaply. In one sense, they are the inheritors of the space in a domestic hi-fi set-up that the CD player previously occupied with the added advantage of also being able to play video discs. Just like a CD player, a DVD player answering this description is not designed to record. The whole regional issue is about playing, and when it comes to recording, it is not necessary to purchase regionally encoded blank media.
DVD Recorder Features
In the greater scheme of things, DVD recorders are premium items. Even at the budget end of the market, they are more expensive than otherwise similar DVD players, and with the addition of features like hard disc storage, SD card slots, Blu-ray, DVD to HD up-scaling, and HD to DVD down-conversion, prices rise accordingly. Hard disc storage has become quite common and enables viewers to record television broadcasts temporarily for immediate playback and to make copies to blank DVD media for long-term storage.
Just as DVD stands for "digital versatile disc", so too does the ideal player need to be versatile, capable of playing all the formats that a disc might be recorded in, especially bearing in mind the crossover between home cinema and personal computing. There are a plethora of file formats, such as AVCHD, DivX, DivX HD, JPEG, JPEG HD, MKV, or MP3, and a home entertainment centre is that much more entertaining if it can handle all of these.
Uses for a DVD Recorder
Even then, the uses of a DVD recorder need not be exhausted. Recent models now incorporate wireless and Ethernet connectivity, which makes them capable of interfacing with the web and digital TV streaming services. When it comes to this kind of enhancement, software implementations are often attuned to their intended locale so that best results come from devices that are explicitly intended for the domestic market.
Some high-end features are aimed more at professional audio-visual contexts, such as public presentation and digital film-making, where attributes like firewire connectivity are desirable assets. For people planning to get into home movie making, compatibility with camera equipment is something to check for.
Computer Based Optical Drives
A more economical option for straightforward storage purposes is to use a personal computer’s optical drive. These too can be a bit bewildering with their different designations. Some PCs, especially older ones, are fitted with DVD-ROMs which are capable solely of playing back, just as with standalone players. These can be replaced with DVD-RW drives, which can write to disc as well.
Alternatively, or additionally, a Blu-ray drive capable of writing to disc can be fitted. Naturally, PC-based Blu-ray drives do not have all the features and connectivity that a standalone player can offer, but the host PC can make up for some of that deficit, thanks to options such as optical S/PDIF connectors that can hook directly to a surround sound amplifier.
On Windows PCs, setting the region code is either managed automatically, subject to user confirmation, at set-up, or else through the Device Manager, where the installed DVD drive’s properties window includes a tab for region and allow a limited number of changes. Unfortunately, one cannot specify the number directly, so 0 and ALL are not options. On the other hand, there are software tools available on the web to help sort out difficulties caused by regional codes. Finally, region codes are not used by software manufacturers, so the issue does not affect the normal computing usages of the drive.
How to Buy DVD Recorders on eBay
If you are looking for a standalone DVD recorder to complement or complete your home cinema set-up, the route through the listings on eBay is slightly different to the one that takes you to a replacement DVD drive for your PC, although in principle the two are functionally the same. From eBay’s home page you have a choice between starting with the search window and navigating through the categories.
If you are planning to replace a computer DVD drive, make sure that the new drive’s connection matches your PC. A search that includes the appropriate term, "DVD SATA drive" or "DVD IDE drive",, should get you started.
For the standalone DVD recorder, finding the right category might require some educated guesswork, so a simple search from the home page window is the best way to get started. If you have already identified a brand or a model that you like, it makes the search much simpler. Another way to build a search is to specify particular features, like a hard disc or Blu-ray capability. Doing so makes the search manageable and less stressful.
If there were a straightforward cultural connection between DVD region codes and languages, the system might be easier to understand. As it is, they are somewhat arbitrary in their scope but nevertheless quite straightforward. For U.K. users, the main thing to know is that the appropriate regional code is 2, and our sub-code is D1. Beyond the regional code issue, the main considerations about buying a DVD recorder concern the main applications that it is going to be used for. If it is going to be part of a home entertainment system, there are a number of factors that differentiate models, notably the provision of a hard disc drive for temporary storage and the capacity to handle the latest high definition and Blu-ray video formats.
Furthermore, for people with a more professional focus, connectivity issues come to the fore. The capacity to plug in a video camera or else accept a memory card that stores material previously shot on that camera are a more urgent concern than factors, such as internet connectivity. Finally, for those looking for a budget home cinema set-up on their computer, a DVD recorder is a cheap and simple possibility. Whichever solution it is going to be, eBay’s listings have all the options covered.