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DVD Players

Page was last updated on July 10, 2011

Region Codes

The DVD world is basically divided into six regions. This means that DVD players and DVDs are labeled for operation on within a specific geographical region in the world. For example, the U.S. is in region 1. This means that all DVD players sold in the U.S. are made to region 1 specifications. As a result, region 1 players can only play region 1 discs.

Seven regions (also called locales or zones) have been defined, and each one is assigned a number. Players and discs are often identified by their region number superimposed on a world globe. If a disc plays in more than one region it will have more than one number on the globe.
1: U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories
2: Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Middle East (including Egypt)
3: Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong)
4: Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
5: Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia
6: China
7: Reserved
8: Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)
REGION ALL (sometimes called REGION 0) Discs are uncoded and can be played Worldwide, however, PAL discs must be played in a PAL-compatible unit and NTSC discs must be played in an NTSC-compatible unit.

See Map of DVD regions

All Region Players

As well as all-region discs there are also all-region players. Some players can be "hacked" using special command sequences from the remote control to switch regions or play all regions. Some players can be physically modified ("chipped") to play discs regardless of the regional codes on the disc. This usually voids the warranty, but is not illegal in most countries (since the only thing that requires player manufacturers to region-code their players is the CSS license). Many retailers, especially outside North America, sell players that have already been modified for multiple regions, or in some cases they simply provide instructions on how to access the "secret" region change features already built into the player.

DVD Players (Multi Region)

RCE DVDs

Some discs from Fox, Buena Vista/Touchstone/Miramax, MGM/Universal, Polygram, and Columbia TriStar contain program code that checks for the proper region setting in the player. (There's Something About Mary and Psycho are examples.) In late 2000, Warner Bros. began using the same active region code checking that other studios had been using for over a year. They called it "region code enhancement" (RCE, also known as REA), and it received much publicity. RCE was first added to discs such as The Patriot and Charlie's Angels. "Smart discs" with active region checking won't play on code-free players that are set for all regions (FFh), but they can be played on manual code-switchable players that allow you to use the remote control to change the player's region to match the disc. They may not work on auto-switching players that recognize and match the disc region. (It depends on the default region setting of the player. An RCE disc has all its region flags set so that the player doesn't know which one to switch to. The disc queries the player for the region setting and aborts playback if it's the wrong one. A default player setting of region 1 will fool RCE discs from region 1. Playing a region 1 disc for a few seconds sets most auto-switching players to region 1 and thus enables them to play an RCE disc.) When an RCE disc detects the wrong region or an all-region player, it will usually put up a message saying that the player may have been altered and that the disc is not compatible with the player. A serious side effect is that some legitimate players fail the test.

DVD Recorders (multi Region)

Progressive-scan DVD player

A progressive-scan DVD player converts the interlaced (480i) video from DVD into progressive (480p) format for connection to a progressive-scan display (31.5 kHz or higher). Progressive players work with all standard DVD titles, but look best with film source. The result is a significant increase in perceived vertical resolution for a more detailed and film-like picture. Since computers use progressive-scan monitors, DVD PCs are by definition progressive-scan players, although quality varies quite a bit.

Q. Is DVD video progressive or interlaced? Here's the one true answer: A. Progressive-source video (such as from film) is usually encoded on DVD as interlaced field pairs that can be reinterleaved by a progressive player to recreate the original progressive video.

You must use a progressive-scan display in order to get the full benefit of a progressive-scan player. However, all progressive players also include interlaced outputs, so you can use one with a standard TV until you upgrade to a progressive TV. (You may have to use a switch on the back of the player to set it to interlaced output.)

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