Region Code Scam
of you might have encountered a very irritating problem with
DVDs acquired from countries outside North America: DVD Region
You might have come back from Europe, for instance, with the
latest James Bond flick Casino Royale - or a fascinating tourist
documentary on the Rhine Valley - only to find your DVD player
displaying the message "Wrong Region". This is because
most of Europe is on the PAL system while DVD players here
are designed to play only NTSC discs. Short of using said
DVD as a Frisbee, you've just wasted a bunch of Euros (or
think the whole region coding issue (there are six different
regions!!) is a gigantic scam perpetrated by the movie industry.
The studios want to control when DVDs will be released in
different parts of the world and they also want to stop YOU
picking up a bargain while on your travels. For example I've
seen the three Jurassic Park movies in a box set for less
than $20 U.S. while visiting England. Citizen Kane special
edition? $10US in London. Ditto Bridge on the River Kwai 2-disc
edition. The classic Brief Encounter special edition? An astounding
$5 in the UK.
it goes beyond that. Some foreign material, like documentaries
or obscure films will NEVER be available in North America.
What about the rights of the consumer - why shouldn't you
be able to buy what you like and bring it home to use here
- just like you can with music CDs.
good news for DVD fans is that you can. For a start, virtually
every computer DVD player is Region Free - meaning it will
play anything. With widescreen monitors and kick-ass sound
on many computers these days, you can enjoy DVDs from all
over the world at your desk.
that's not really a great solution for those of you who want
to kick back and watch your movies on a regular TV or big
screen. And can you imagine the whole family standing around
your computer screen trying to watch a movie?!
Good news - region free DVD players models are out there and
some of them are astoundingly cheap. For example, I picked
up a Norcent player for less than $50 Canadian from Wal-Mart
and it lasted three years, happily playing PAL discs from
Europe and NTSC discs from North America.
got an even better deal with my latest region free model:
I picked up an Accura (made by Citizen) player in a fire sale
at a big box grocery store for an amazing $29.99!!
cheap players will do an excellent job, but if you are willing
to pay more for an upconverting player for superior picture
I can also recommend the LG brand. Some are less than $100.
Toshiba, Philips and Daewoo are some of the other companies
offering region free DVD players.
you hadn't planned to change your current player, do a Google
search on it to see if a hack is available. This is usually
as simple as using your remote to open the disc tray and punching
in a series of numbers to get the factory setting display.
This allows you to change the region code to 0 - and play
whatever discs you like.
aren't available for every player - Sony and Panasonic are
two of the hardest brands to crack - but you might be lucky.
might not think this is a big deal, but I believe it is. Guaranteed,
if you travel outside North America you are going to see must-have
DVDs at great prices. If they're not NTSC (Region 1) and you
don't have a region free player at home, you are gonna fume!!
watching with interest to see how the industry plans to maintain
this region code nonsense when more of us download movies
online, presumably from anywhere in the world.