Did you know that DVDs have something called a Region Lock? This restriction keeps you from playing DVDs marked for one particular region on a DVD player or drive that is marked for another region. As long as you stay put, don’t travel, don’t buy or accept foreign DVDs, you’ll never need to concern yourself with this. If you are concerned, you will want to know about region code free DVD players.
If you’ve ever had the disappointing experience of putting a foreign movie DVD in your US machine or a new US movie in a foreign machine, and then getting a blank screen, you have already run into the problem. That’s because the DVD drives, including those in laptops and game consoles as well as the stand-alone players, are usually rigged by manufacturers.
Let the Consumer Beware
Unbeknownst to most consumers, most DVD drives come with a region-blocking chip, or flag, that is built right into the machine. Unless you have a region code free player, your machine’s drive flag must match the disc flag. This is an impediment to not only to travelers, but also to immigrants who want to watch films from their homeland, to foreign film buffs, and even to students of foreign languages, as one Washington Post writer noted.
This is done to allow those who produce those discs (e.g., film companies) to have different release dates across the globe, and more importantly, to raise the price wherever the market lets them, which some consider price discrimination. Movie producers are especially anxious to keep movie DVDs to reaching foreign ports before the theater version has run its course. They don’t want you taking the US DVD back to Buenos Aires with you, for example. Accordingly, in the current state of affairs, the world has been divided into these separate consumer regions by flag number. The logic behind these divisions totally escapes me! Apparently it has more to do with sales areas than any kind of cultural, linguistic, or geographic sense!
Here they are:
1. US & its territories, Canada, Bermuda
2. Europe (minus Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland
3. Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau
4. Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Oceana (As if hemisphere matters more than language?)
5. Afghanistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Africa (minus those mentioned elsewhere), Central & South Asia, Mongolia, North Korea
6. China, Hong Kong
7. Reserved for future use
8. International venues (planes, cruises)
How To Get Past the Region Block on DVD Players
Only “region code free” DVD players, i.e., those with NO flag (sometimes called region “0” players). There are no region-free discs, by the way. As the world gets flatter, I’d personally like to see this aggravating technological bump excised. Some call it an infringement of international commerce; others see it as an opportunity for hacking. If you read techno blogs, you’ll discover that some really smart people have invented software to circumvent the regional blocking (often for a fee) that enables the user to unlock the regional control by entering an unlock code via the remote control. Beware: This kind of hacking voids your machine’s warranty.
The best current solution to this problem is simple: Look for a “multi-region or region code free DVD player” from any number of manufacturers, including Panasonic, Phillips, Pioneer, and Toshiba. It’s legal. Just look for the one that fits your needs and budget and start enjoying hassle-free DVD watching. So while you are at it, why not check out the new screens too? The Multisystem LCD TV’s are PAL, SECAM, NTSC worldwide compatible and would make a great complement to your new DVD player!