DR DVD -- APRIL
A QUESTION OF
I know that
Region 2 uses the PAL system and Region 1 uses NTSC, and that Region 2 is of a
slightly higher quality/definition as it is made up of more lines on screen.
What I'm not entirely sure about is does this affect the make-up of the discs
at all, or just the televisions?
Basically what I'm getting at is, if for example, you have a Region 1 and a
Region 2 Disc which have the same extras (a rare thing I know, but Gladiator
for example), is the Region 2 disc going to be of a better quality and
therefore make sense to purchase that, or does it make no difference, and is
solely dependent on the system we use and not the DVD disc at all?
Aquil Khan, via email
It is not true
to say that all Region 2 discs are PAL and Region one NTSC, one obvious
exception is Japan, which is Region 2, but uses the NTSC colour television
system. All other things being equal there is a small but just about noticeable
difference between a PAL and NTSC picture. In addition to the 15% or so extra
picture lines, which increase the amount of visible detail in the image, the
PAL system has superior colour processing performance, colours look more
natural with more subtle graduations. The downside to PAL is a slightly slower
frame rate (NTSC is 60Hz, PAL is 50Hz), which for some people produces an
annoying screen flicker.
on a DVD is in the form of digital data and the way it is laid out and
organised is the same on all DVDs, irrespective of region, however the picture
information that the data represents is configured differently for PAL and NTSC
recordings. The conversion of that digital data into an analogue PAL or NTSC
video signal is carried out by the player's processing circuitry. There are
three basic options as far as cross-format replay is concerned: most models can
replay NTSC discs – provided they're Region-free or Region 2 -- and output a
raw NTSC signal. Some players also convert NTSC colour information to PAL but
they leave the number of picture lines and frame rate unchanged, which most
recent TVs can handle. This partial conversion process is called PAL 60 and you
will usually find it listed as an option in the player's setup menu. A few
models can do a full NTSC to PAL conversion.
look better when shown in their 'native' format – in other words the picture
information undergoes a minimum of reprocessing --- so the ideal situation,
from a picture quality point of view, is a multi-region player that can output
raw NTSC and a dual/multi-standard TV or display device.
I was worried
to read the letter in Issue 22 or What DVD about Regional Code Enhancement. I
have a Sony DVP-S325; it is also a multi-region player. Is it possible to get
it converted to a Region 1 player only, and if so how bearing in mind I have
had the player for a year? Is it definite that these discs will play if the
player is converted? If the worst comes to the worst I may have to get an
American player, would it play on the TV in this country and would I be able to
adapt the plug? Will American companies who sell these discs on the Internet us
if the disc
we purchase is RCE coded or not?
Nick Bolton, via email
RCE is a relatively new phenomenon, so far
only a few discs have been released and information is still a bit sketchy.
However, what we do know so far is that it works and players modified for
all-region playback are the most likely to be affected. Players that can be
switched to a single region playback via a 'remote' hack generally seem able to
play these discs, but it appears that there may be one or two models where this
trick doesn't work. As far as I'm aware all recent Sony players have rock solid
region locks and have to be 'chipped' – i.e. physically modified – for all or
user switchable/automatic region selection. There are several different
'hardware' hacks, however, most of the one's I'm aware of will be affected by
RCE; the one's that allow manual or automatic region switching may not. All you
can do is contact the company that carried out the work on your player and ask
them, or wait and see…
Buying a US player is a bad idea. To begin
with unless it's one of the very small handful of machines with a multi-voltage
power supply you'll have to buy a step-down transformer, and your TV will have
to be able to replay a raw NTSC signal. If it goes wrong you may have trouble
getting it repaired, and if you buy it from the US, it's along way back to the
shop…Companies selling R1 discs on the Internet have a fairly patchy record of
flagging up the type of regional coding, in fact most of the one's I've looked
at recently make no mention of it. If any readers can recommend UK-friendly
sites that warn about RCE I'd like to know about them, and maybe give them a
Am I right in
thinking that the Regional Coding Enhancement systems used by some studios may
hopefully be a non-issue to the thousands of us using multi-region players? I
have a Mico DVD-A980 player, which can be set to any region including
region free. If as your response to the letter indicates all I need to do is
change the regional settings from region free (region 13 on the Mico) to region
1 when playing U.S discs then all should be fine.
On another issue, I would like to buy a home cinema set up but I am unsure what
the minimum features of any AV amp should be. My Mico has a built in Dolby
Digital decoder so does this mean to make the most use of the facility the amp
should also include a decoder or is it not necessary to duplicate a decoder
facility for DVD playback. Would I need the amp decoder however if I wanted to
feed TV broadcast audio in 5.1 through external speakers or are there simply to
few programmes broadcast in 5.1 to warrant the extra cost?
Adam Barr, via email
RCE will become
a non-issue simply because there are now more than enough Region 2 discs to
satisfy most newcomers to DVD. It also helps that the gap between the US and UK
release of new movies is now down to a just few weeks in a lot of cases. It is
true that some players -- where the region is switchable -- can play current
RCE coded discs, but don't get complacent! You can be fairly sure that the
studios are working on even more effective systems for the future. Regional
coding is a real pain for movie fans but I can't see it disappearing anytime
soon. You have to look at the big picture. In addition to being a very useful
marketing tool, giving the studios control over international distribution and
release dates, it has several other important applications, including
regionalising discs according to language and soundtrack, local censorship laws
and TV systems.
You need an AV
amp with at least 5, preferably six channels of amplification, however since
many of them now incorporate Dolby Digital and sometimes dts decoders as well,
some duplication may be inevitable. However, the cost of these decoders is
negligible nowadays and having the decoders in the amp also cuts down on the
wiring since you'll be able to use your player's coaxial or optical bitstream
Any chance you
can advise on how to get rid of a slight (but unacceptable)
fuzzy/distorted sound I get from audio CDs (through both the NICAM TV
and hi-fi speakers, when played on my Wharfedale 750. DVDs play fine, and I've
tried all kinds of settings, and checked connections. The DVD player has a
SCART lead into the TV and phono leads to the stereo hi-fi - an old but able
NAD 3020 amp.
Brian Taylor, via email
Audio CD replay
is not actually part of the DVD spec, though pretty well all machines do it.
The trouble is unless the player is optimised for audio CDs – with a purpose
designed laser pickup and processing circuitry -- the quality may not be up to
much. This is often the case with budget models and I find that a lot of them
have a slightly 'harsh', sound and are not very good at picking out fine
detail. It may be just your player -- if it's still under warranty take it back
-- but in the end I think that if you want half decent CD replay you need to
set your sights a bit higher.
DON'T SAY IT…
purchased a JMC DVD-3000, one of the cheapest players on the market. After
owning it for just over a month I've encountered two problems with "Jaws", when photo galleries is
selected, the number 2 is shown next to title on the machine and the play
symbol is continuously flashing; and "American Psycho", which would
not play on my machine at all. I swapped Jaws and American Psycho was a rental
disc and of seven people who borrowed the disk I was the only one who couldn't
play it. Please don't just say you get what you pay for...
Paul Harrison, via email
I have a REC
3000 DVD Player which plays Region 2 DVDs with no problems and I have also
played various Region 1 DVDs: Stuart Little, Scary Movie and Buzz Lightyear of
Star Command, which also played without any problems but for Christmas I
bought my daughter The Sound of Music on Region 1. It will not play and shows
the message 'This disc is not formatted to play in this region'. Surely if
the machine has played some Region 1 DVDs it should play this one?
would think so… None of our sources list The Sound of Music has having Region
Code Enhancement, which would give the message that you describe. However we do
know that several studios have been running discrete trials with RCE to assess
its impact and it may be that you've got hold of one of those test discs. Your
REC player is a bit of an obscure model. I believe it's made in China and that
some models are based on Panasonic bits, others – including yours I suspect –
are made using locally sourced parts. Unfortunately I can find no details about
the region code firmware otherwise I would have suggested that you change it to
Region 1, which may have overridden the problem. I do have one suggestion
though, and that's to play an R1 disc, press Stop and insert Sound of Music.
Apparently this trick works on some players with automatic region switching.
I just got the Buffy Series One box set.
Unfortunately I can't watch it on my PC. A message pops up saying, that the PC
Friendly software is not running. It is
obviously not on the DVD as I have changed them in the shop, but the message
still pops up. My question now is, if you know of a Web page, from which I can
download the program?
Sascha, via email
I haven't looked at the PC content on this DVD yet,
nor am I in any particular hurry to do so as by all accounts it not that
interesting, just a screen saver and some web links. It should work though – there's nothing more to download, read
the installation instructions again – however, the name 'PC Friendly' is a bit
of a misnomer since quite a few people have reported problems with it. Don't
forget that you'll need a DVD-ROM drive on your PC to access it.
I've got a JVC
XV-523, and was wondering if there is a hacking code that will allow it to play
Region 1 DVDs?
Nathan Dunstan, via emai
Do you know of a hack for my JVC SV-522 DVD
Fabian, via email
Have you got
the Region code for the Sony DAV-S300? I got it just before
Christmas and have been trying to play the Region 6 version of Mission
Impossible 2 and Gone in 60 seconds.
Chris Hall, via email
impatient S.O.B. I recently bought a Sony DAV-S300, which I have to say I am
over the moon with. However, now that I have bought my home cinema kit and
purchased every DVD title available that I was interested in, I find myself
drooling over the ads for Region 1 discs. As my player is Region 2 compatible
only, I was wondering (praying!) that there might be a code for "firmware
switching" or "hacking". Can you advise if there is a code for
the Sony DAV-S300, or am I going to have to wait ages for X-Men et al.
Jonathan Scarlett, via email
Can you tell me
if I can modify my Sharp DV-620H player, as I want to purchase DVDs from the
Shaun Hawrth, Blackburn, Lancs
Sorry you lot, all of the above-mentioned
players are hard coded and can only be unlocked by having them 'chipped'. Most
hard upgrades will result in the player's guarantee being invalidated, however,
you might like to have a look at the Excel Sprinter 'external' mod, which at
least once company claims does not infringe the manufacturer's warranty. You
can find more details at: http://www.upgradeheaven.co.uk/shop.htm
I have an
American Pioneer Laser/DVD player- Pioneer DVL-700. The problem is, is it
possible to get it to play Region 2 disks? I know this is the
reverse of what everybody else wants, but please help me.
Ted, via email
high and low for multi-region mod or hack for this machine but no luck. I've
got a feeling that one exists somewhere but it seems to have vanished, if
anyone has any information please let me know.
I own a Samsung
DVD-709 could you please tell me if there is a hack code for it?
J. Newton, via email
We do have
information on this player but I'll only tell you on the strict understanding
that it's not guaranteed, nor do I or What DVD assume any responsibility for it
if the player explodes… By the way, this hack also works on the Samsung 511:
player by holding down Play & Stop for 3 seconds/select language/press
Repeat, 3, 8, 7, 6, 7 on handset/press 1 for R1 or 9 for auto-select/press
I have been advised by a friend to ask you
how to remote-hack a Wharfedale DVD-750 player.
I. Khan, via email
There are two
'All Region' cracks for this mode, usual disclaimers apply:
On the 750 open
tray/insert R1 disc/press 0,1,2,3 on remote/press play.
On the 750S
open drawer/press Step > Previous > Next.
Ó R. Maybury 2001, 0502