Following up on an earlier post about region-free dvd players, I happened to have a stroke of luck — I found a DVD-RW drive that is region free. I happened to pick up an SATA DVD drive, and as I was playing around with it, I decided I wanted to rip one of my Region 2 DVDs. In order to do that, I had to use regionset to change the region code first.
Part of the program options, though, is that regionset will display what region the drive is currently set to. When I ran it, it didn’t have any setting at all, which seemed curious to me. I wondered what would happen if I just played the disc without changing the code. Normally, on my old IDE drives, it would throw all kinds of errors before dying on me, and I’d have to do a hard reset to get my drive working again. In this case, though, it worked flawlessly without any modification! I thought my luck was too good to be true, so I popped a Region 1 DVD back in the drive to see if it had any issues playing those, and it did fine as well.
I’ve since tried ripping other Region 2 and Region 4 discs on it, and it has taken everything I’ve thrown at it so far. I’m pretty excited, to say the least. It would have been nice to have a region-free DVD player with HDMI output, but I haven’t been able to find one at a decent price. Being able to rip and watch them on the computer though is just as good.
For the record, the drive I have is a Lite-On and the model is LH-20A1L (firmware revision BL03). Interestingly enough, the Lite-On brand is the only one when it comes to DVD drives that I have never had problems with. When it comes to poorly authored DVDs, when my other IDE drives (Pioneer, Sony) would freak out, freeze up and die, the Lite-On one would always (well, about 95% of the time) take those crappy discs and skip over the bad sectors and manage to complete the rip. I’ve been really impressed with them.