The Best Way to Play a Region Specific DVD

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The Best Way to Play a Region Specific DVD

DVD players have long replaced VHS tapes, but with the inception of this technology comes new restrictions. Although DVD players are sold around the world, not all DVDs are compatible with every DVD player. DVDs and players have been split into regions depending on the country that releases them. In addition to region specific equipment, buyers must also be aware of the video standards of TV picture formats. All TVs are compliant with at least one of three major formats, and buyers should know which one their TV accommodates.

Viewers have several options when it comes to playing region specific DVDs. The easiest and least expensive method is to find a DVD player from the same region as the disc, but users must also make sure the TV's format is compatible. Viewers must learn about region codes in order to bypass restrictions with region specific DVDs by purchasing a region 0 DVD player, potentially unlocking a pre-existing DVD player, or buying multi-region DVDs.

About Region Coding

The movie industry has listed several reasons as to why they continue to make DVDs only compatible with region specific DVD players. Film giants prefer to have a tight grip on release dates. Not every country has the same theatre or DVD release dates. The Internet has made it all too easy for movie viewers too impatient to wait for the regional release to get their hands on prized DVDs. Region specific DVD players are designed to keep DVD profits from leaking out of the country.

DVD manufacturers have therefore formatted DVDs to only be compatible with players sold in particular geographic areas. While devising a way to make region specific DVDs function, users must be familiar with the various DVD regions.

DVD Regions

The DVD world market is broken up into regions, and each region has its devices and discs formatted to only work within a certain region. Each country has been assigned a region code, and there are six that correspond with locations and two are reserved for special use.

Region Code



Unofficial code for "playable in all regions"


Canada, United States and territories, Bermuda


Central and Western Europe, the Middle East, Egypt, Japan, Greenland, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho


Most of Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau


Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean


Most of Africa, India, Mongolia, Former Soviet Union, North Korea




Marked for future use but currently used for protected screener copies of MPAA DVDs and pre-releases in Asia


International settings, such as cruises ships, commercial airlines, and more

Some DVD players are assigned only to one region, while others can play multiple, like the region 0. Region 0 DVD players may claim to play all regions, but often, they play 1 through 6, which is most often all that customers need.

How to Play a Region Specific DVD

Even if DVD manufacturers take extra steps to keep their products region specific, there are several options available to those who want to cross those lines. The first method involves researching the viewer's current DVD player to determine if it can be unlocked with a simple code. If the DVD player can be unlocked, users can follow instructions found online to walk them through the process. Should the viewer have an incompatible DVD player, they can purchase a region 0, often called a non-region specific model. Another avenue to explore is buying multi-region DVDs formatted to work with several types of players.

DVD players are not the only device viewers should be concerned about. All displays, typically a TV or monitor, are formatted to work with at least one of three major video formatting systems. The sections below give insight into the factors involved and techniques used to play region specific DVDs.

Purchase Multi-Region DVDs

Perhaps the easiest way to play a region specific DVD is to make a conscious effort to purchase ones that are formatted for more than one region. Instead of spending money on a new device, shoppers can look for films that can be used in several different regions. One advantage to this is if the seller ever decides to get rid of his collection, multi-region DVDs are more coveted than single region editions.

Unlock Region Specific DVD Player

The most cost efficient way to play a region specific DVD is to see if the current player can be unlocked. There are more than 5000 hacks available for various types of DVD players. Users lucky enough to have a DVD player on the list can simply follow the onscreen instructions to manually override region settings. With thousands of models to choose from, buyers can select a DVD player on the list of hacked devices instead of paying for a region 0 DVD player. Before trying to unlock the DVD player, DIYers should read for positive and negative comments about the unlocking process for particular models. Viewers should be advised that tampering with the DVD player typically voids the warranty.

Buy a Region 0 DVD Player

Region 0 is the unofficial term for DVD players that can read DVDs from multiple regions. These types of DVD players are less frequently seen on the market because the legality of these devices. Region 0 DVD players usually only play codes 1 through 6 since 7 and 8 are reserved for special circumstances. Buyers who need their DVD players to read all regions must research models to determine compatibility. Even if the viewer is using a region 0 DVD player, the television needs to be properly formatted.

Video and Broadcasting Standard Systems

Oftentimes, it takes more than a region 0 DVD player to play a region specific DVD. The display device, typically a television or monitor, must also be compatible with the right video system. In addition to region codes, many electronics are compatible with NTSC, PAL, or SECAM broadcasting formats. While some devices are only formatted for one system, there are options available that are designed for two, if not all three formats.


The National Television Standards Committee, or NTSC, became the first video format in 1941, setting the standard for analogue video and broadcasting formats. NTSC formatting is used in all of North and Central America, parts of South America, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.


Phase Alternating Line, shortened to PAL, is the analogue video and broadcasting system used by Australasia, much of Western and Central Europe, China, India, the most Middle East, and a majority of Africa. Brazil even uses a deviation of PAL, called PAL-M.


SECAM, short for Sequentiel Couleur avec Mémoire, is the least used of the three main video formats. Devised by the French, it is also used in Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union, and a few countries in the Middle East. SECAM format is unique in that it is only for television broadcasts and not concerned with DVD playback. Areas with SECAM use DVDs formatted for PAL.

How to Buy DVD Players to Play Region Specific DVDs

eBay has a sizeable selection of both region 0 DVDs and players as well as multi-region DVDs to choose from. Shoppers can custom sort search results by their top priorities. Bargain hunters find eBay's best deals by sorting from lowest to highest price. Similarly, items can be sorted by lowest to highest price. To reduce or eliminate shipping costs, arrange items by distance from seller. Depending on your preference, you can even list new or used items first.

If you think finding the perfect item is a breeze, then you can appreciate how simply the payment process is. For similar reasons, many sellers prefer to use PayPal because it is reliable, secure, and traceable. Vendors typically accept credit and debit cards as well. For large items such as vehicles, the buy and seller may arrange to but the money in escrow. A small percentage of sellers take postal orders, personal cheques, or direct wire transfers. Before deciding on an item, check the seller's preferred payment methods..


Region coded DVDs are an inconvenience for viewers who want to watch movies from a different geographic area. Region coding was implemented to reduce international sales of DVDs and keep profits localised. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to employ or devices to buy that can allow one to play a region specific DVD.

While there are multi-region DVDs for sale, they are not available for every title. Viewers have two options for watching region specific DVDs. First, they can check to see if their pre-existing DVD player can be unlocked. A quick use of a search engine shows the various websites that provide codes and instructions. If the DVD cannot be unlocked, many quality name brand companies such as Sony, LG, and Toshiba have unlockable models. With a region 0 or unlocked DVD player and a properly formatted television, viewers around the can play any DVD they want regardless of where it was produced.

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