Author Topic: Confused about DVD regions  (Read 4413 times)

Bill Binkelman

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Confused about DVD regions
« on: March 27, 2008, 01:12:28 PM »
I'm hoping that with how many people are on this board, someone can clear up something for me.

There is a series on DVD that is now only available in the UK as a region 2 DVD. Here in the US it was called War Planets, but the "real name" was Shadow Raiders (why they switched the name for the US market is beyond me...I even think Shadow Raiders is a cooler name). Anyway, the whole series is cheaply available in the UK via amazon but it's a region 2 DVD. The DVDs were released here in the US when the series aired (late 90s) but to say the DVDs are rare is an understatement (one seller on ebay has the full set, which apparently in this version comprises 7 discs for $600!!!). Amazon.co.uk has the two seasons available as individual seasons for between 11 and 7 pounds sterling! Significantly less, to say the least.

So, here's my decision. Which makes the most sense, economically and which nets me the best quality end product?

1) Buy the UK sets and then buy the cheapest possible region-free DVD player? (anyone know how much that will cost?). If I do this, can I watch it on a non-PAL TV, which is what my TV is (I wasn't even aware that TVs had regions but I guess they do?)

2) Buy the UK sets and then invest in a DVD burner and download one of several conversion programs that I researched on the 'net. None of these is perfect per reviews and usually the menus get altered, and the image may not be as good as it could be

3) Ask someone in the UK if they already have the gear for the above and pay them to convert the DVD for me (I would purchase the DVDs and have them shipped to this person who would be free to keep the original discs and just send me the cases once they are converted)

4) Realize that I will never see the whole series (here in Minneapolis, they only showed the first 6 episodes). Die a lonely embittered person. :(

By the way, IMO, it's a very cool and very well done computer animated SF series. Much more intelligently written than usual and the computer animation is excellent - good music score too.

Well, if anyone can offer any help or opinions, I'd appreciate it. Has anyone else faced this kind of a DVD region problem?

APK

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2008, 01:19:18 PM »
Some DVD players can be 'flashed' to make them region free. Most can't. You'd have to check into it on the web.

I'd suggest buying the cheap DVD british versions, then copying them using a program that removes the region specific stuff. Easy to do and there is no reason the copy would not be the same quality as the original. Little program called AnyDVD is particularly good.
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sio

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2008, 01:25:09 PM »
I wonder if they'll keep this DVD zone business with Blu-Ray....

mgriffin

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2008, 01:27:11 PM »
Sure, this is something people ask about online all the time.

As you seem to already understand (but in case you don't, I'll cover this ground anyway) to play a UK-released DVD you not only need a region-free DVD player, but also one that will convert PAL to NTSC.  There are many such DVD players out there and they're certainly less than $600.

If you get a region-free DVD player, but one that doesn't automatically convert PAL signals to an NTSC signal your TV can display, your DVD player probably won't play it at all.  DVD players will reject discs if the discs are the wrong REGION, and will also reject them if they're the wrong FORMAT (PAL versus NTSC).  It's very possible that you could purchase a multi-region DVD player, or a regular DVD player that can be "hacked" to be multi-region, but if it doesn't support PAL discs you'll still be out of luck with a PAL disc.

By far your best and cheapest option, though, is this.  It would be silly to pay someone to convert a PAL boxset of DVDs for you so you can play them on your existing DVD player, only to find 6 months later or so, that you found something new on PAL DVD that you were just dying to see. 

I have an Oppo DVD player that is multi-region by default, and can be "cracked" (very easily by pushing a series of buttons on the remote) to accept PAL discs and convert them to NTSC output.  I think I paid about $150 for this player and I'm sure you can find something equivalent for under $100 now.

I've seen lower-quality multi-region and/or multi-format (crackable) players, usually Chinese models, for as little as $45 at Best Buy.  You just need to google a bit for the crack codes to make the player open to any region or format.
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mgriffin

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2008, 01:28:38 PM »
I wonder if they'll keep this DVD zone business with Blu-Ray....

BluRay discs do have region coding but there are fewer regions (3 with BluRay as compared to 6 or 7 for DVD)
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mgriffin

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2008, 01:29:59 PM »
Some DVD players can be 'flashed' to make them region free. Most can't. You'd have to check into it on the web.

I'd suggest buying the cheap DVD british versions, then copying them using a program that removes the region specific stuff. Easy to do and there is no reason the copy would not be the same quality as the original. Little program called AnyDVD is particularly good.

I'm not familiar with AnyDVD but be careful that you're not just stripping the region code, but also reformatting the PAL video into NTSC format.
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cromag

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2008, 11:48:51 PM »
While I'm not an absolute authority on this subject, I believe that if you convert the DVDs yourself (here in the states) you would be in technical violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

From Wikipedia, itself not an authority, either --

Quote from: Wiki
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which implements two 1996 WIPO treaties. It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services that are used to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works (commonly known as DRM) and criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, even when there is no infringement of copyright itself...



I looked into this possibility a few years ago, when the Stargate SG1 episodes were being released in Europe right away, but delayed by a year or two here in the states to protect syndication sales.
Science News, Vol. 175, No. 9, April 25, 2009, page 1 -- "New mapping of the human genome shows none of us are normal."

LNerell

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2008, 11:16:28 AM »

So, here's my decision. Which makes the most sense, economically and which nets me the best quality end product?

1) Buy the UK sets and then buy the cheapest possible region-free DVD player? (anyone know how much that will cost?). If I do this, can I watch it on a non-PAL TV, which is what my TV is (I wasn't even aware that TVs had regions but I guess they do?)


This is the way to go. I bought a player that does this from Amazon.com a few years ago and it works perfectly. It will play all regions and will even convert PAL to NTSC on the fly and its cheap:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000N254LU/ref=ord_cart_shr?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance

BTW PAL and NTSC are not regions but standards, PAL has more lines of resolution then NTSC.
Take care.

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Bill Binkelman

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2008, 12:28:54 PM »
I want to thank everyone for their opinions and advice so far. Glad to see there appears to be a consensus too. Oh, and FTR, I do know there is a difference between region and standard. But I didn't know you could run a PAL format DVD through a "on the fly" converter inside the DVD player and play it here in the US on a NTSC TV...is there a "universal" TV, BTW?

BTW, does anyone know what is the source of the region discrepancy? Why does this hold true for DVDs but not CDs? Just curious...

LNerell

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2008, 12:49:22 PM »
BTW, does anyone know what is the source of the region discrepancy? Why does this hold true for DVDs but not CDs? Just curious...

I'm sure the record industry would love to have a region list for CDs, but it was never part of the red book spec. While for DVDs the movie industry insisted their be something like that in the DVD spec before they would release anything.
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mgriffin

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Re: Confused about DVD regions
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2008, 12:49:32 PM »
No such thing as a universal TV, at least not a consumer item... maybe something for a video studio.

Some DVD players will treat every disc just the same, PAL or DVD, any region, and output NTSC video.

The region setting is something movie studios agreed to do, something added to the DVD format (encoded on discs, and read by players) so they would have some control over where/when various movies were released. 

VHS tapes have no region encoding, though there are PAL and NTSC tapes that are incompatible.

CDs have no region coding and no format incompatibilities between geographic areas, which makes the collection of imported foreign CDs so easy.
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