region-free dvd players

I’ve picked up my quest again to find a DVD player that is region-free. This is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve looked around, this being my most serious attempt. I’ve been doing my research quite a bit on this one instead of just randomly buying whatever looks like it might work the second I see it.

The first question is whether you want to get a player that is region-free “out of the box” or hack one to reset the region settings. I’d rather go with the first one, for fear of getting stuck with a player that for one reason or another isn’t hackable.

I actually found a lot of search results on Amazon, which surprised me. Almost all of them are either Philips or some cheap-o brands I’ve never heard of. A Philips DVD player is most certainly out of the question. I bought one once and it had the most horrible remote I’ve ever seen. Today, that’s no real excuse since you can use a universal remote, but one feature it also lacked was that you couldn’t eject a disc from the remote. Lame.

Aside from my experiences, everywhere I read about their players, people regret the purchase, and have lots of complaints about them. So, definately going to steer clear.

The only thing I’ve really found so far that looks like it’d work is this one, the Samsung DVD-P171. The only problem is that I can’t find any reviews for it, anywhere at all. Either no one bought this thing or it was quickly replaced by another model. Neither scenario exactly inspires confidence. Even then, I couldn’t find the specifications for it on any website. I finally downloaded the product manual from Samsung’s website, and it has component and rca video out, along with coaxial audio out. No HDMI or S-Video which stinks for maximum options, but it’s not a big deal. Samsung seems to be generally a good brand overall, so I think I might get it and check it out.

The one feature I really want in my DVD player is what my Sony already has — remembering the last playback location. It’s great. The Sony players will remember the last position for six discs. So you can take them out and put them in later and pick back up exactly where you left off. I couldn’t really tell by reading the manual for the Samsung if it had that or not. Not a huge deal though, the reason I’m looking in the first place is to have it play any regions.

The reason I want a region-free DVD player in the first place should be pretty obvious — I want to be able to play DVDs from other regions. It’s the most annoying feature of DVD’s DRM that I hate. Ironically enough, HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs, known for their DRM, actually don’t employ this tactic … all discs are region-free. Sheesh.

Even dumber is that the studios will release some movies only in certain countries, or release them as widescreen only other places, but not in the USA or for Region 1. That means if I want to get Looking for Richard on DVD, I’d have to buy it from the UK. Or if I want George of the Jungle with widescreen I have to get it from Germany. I already bought Disney’s Shipwrecked from Australia, and changed the region code on my DVD ROM in my computer so I could rip it. I’m limited by the number of times I can change it though, so I’d rather have a player that I can just throw anything at.

For the record, here’s a list of Disney’s pan & scan only DVD releases, and which regions have the widescreen ones available.

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5 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Hardware, Multimedia

5 responses to “region-free dvd players

  1. An alternative to region-free players is just making sure that your player is unlockable. Basically all standalone DVD players are unlockable; the engineers always include that hidden feature. You just need to Google search for the unlock code. I did that for my Toshiba DVD player, and it seems to work. My next task is to find a cheap price for a certain Region 2 DVD . :)

  2. Steve

    Yah, I’ve already searched … no unlock codes for mine. :(

  3. Florian

    I was in a similar situation. My Dad brought some rare DVD he always wanted to have from a distant country. Of course he was not able to play it in his Sony DVD player and the concept of region codes was completely beyond his understandings (understandable). When searching for a solution online a stumbled across this site: http://www.selen.org/sonydvd.html . If you have a laptop with IR or any other IR device that can be run from DOS this method really seems to magically unlock these players. So if you can catch one of the players listed you might as well go along with a Sony after all.

  4. Steve

    @Florian,

    Thanks for the tip … tried it out, didn’t work on either one of my Sony DVD players :( Ah well.

  5. Florian

    Thats too bad. The catch is that you need a real serial bus based IR device while most modern seem to be internally connected to the USB bus or some other strange bus. The program may still run and claims to working nomrally but fails silently :(

    Maybe someone wants to port this program so you can use any IR device from within linux? :-)

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