DR DVD DECEMBER
AILMENT OF THE
LOW DOWN ON
I have a
Pioneer 530 player, my first player, and for the most part it has been an
excellent introduction to the world of DVD video. Some of the more murky
scenes in films like Shadow of The Vampire tend towards the grainy but having
seen little sign of such graining in Se7en, I've accepted this as
half-way blameable on my player's budget status and the quality of the MPEG
The only real pain has been the layer-switching pause. Disc producers do
seem to try their best to place the pauses as unobtrusively as possible, but
the audio/visual editing in some (most?) films doesn't allow for this kind of
interruption to be accommodated seamlessly. The resulting effect, however
slight, jars one from one's suspension of disbelief and I find myself fidgeting
with irritation after about an hour in, because I know it's coming and I know
it's going to hack me off.
Layer-switching pause, or the lack of it, is rarely mentioned in DVD player
reviews, so my question is this: do all players do this to some extent,
and if not, do I have to spend a grand to get seamless playback?
Simon Sleightholm, Ashington, Northumberland
used to be a big deal. I remember sitting in front of the screen with a
stopwatch whilst doing DVD player group tests, as I recall the longest freeze
was around four and a half seconds on one first generation player. Most recent
players – including many budget models -- now have memory buffers that take
care of the momentary break in the flow of data from the disc as the laser
switches focus from one layer to the other, and as you say, disc mastering has
improved. We still check for layer change during player tests and the occasional
disc still proves troublesome but these days a freeze lasting longer than a
quarter of a second is very unusual in fact in most instances it's a case blink
and you'll miss it, if you see anything at all.
I have just
been given the R2 version of The Siege as a birthday prezzie but to my
surprise, after two years of DVD ownership and 50 discs, I have
encountered my first disc with picture blocking and break-up. After a
couple of very brief picture freezes in the earlier chapters which rectified
themselves the picture deteriorated rapidly in Chapter 20 and stayed that way
until the end.
I have a Mico
DVD A-980 player, which was initially set at "multi-region" and then
back to R2 but the problem was exactly the same. I changed the disc at Woolworth's
but the replacement was also faulty in the same place. To make matters worse
the disc also will not play on my PCs' DVD player. Is this a known
problem with this disc and if so can I get my money back?
Adam Barr, via
all the usual references for dodgy discs but I couldn't find any reports of any
related problems with The Siege. I have two theories. The first is that you've
been very unlucky and had two iffy discs on the trot, possibly from the same
production batch. If so you, or whoever gave you the disc is should exchange it
again and if that makes no difference, insist on a full refund. The other
possibility is that it's a hardware problem. As I recall the Mico player wasn't
a particularly distinguished performer and it could be that it's not happy with
borderline spec pressings or it has a dusty/dirty pickup. In any event your
player is over two years old and quite well used by the sound of it so it's
probably long overdue for a run-through with a good quality disc cleaner. The
fact that the disc won't play on the PC as well could just be a massive
coincidence and that might also need cleaning.
I have recently purchased the Disney 101/102
Dalmatians twin pack and had to take it back three times. The 101 disc plays
with no problem, but on the 102 Dalmatians disc I cannot get past the first
language selection menu.
I don't think it is a problem with my
machine, which is a Toshiba SD-2109 and I have tried numerous discs since the
problem arose and they all loaded and played; this included some Disney titles.
To be fair to the shop they have been helpful and exchanged it without any
hassle. Before I took the discs back for the last time somebody I work with saw
somebody else in the same shop returning the same DVD, I don't know if it was
the same problem though.
Are you aware of anything wrong with this disc, should I keep on
exchanging or cut my losses and get my money back?
Ian. M, via email
I have just bought a copy of 102 Dalmatians
on DVD. It didn't load on my Toshiba SD2109 player. I returned the copy and got
a refund and bought another copy from a different store but this, too has the
same problem. The language menu appears but when English is selected the player
clicks and whirrs but the disk will not play. I haven't got this problem with
any of my other discs (over 40 of them) or with any rental copies. Can you give
me any reason for this? Is it a fault on the disc or the player?
about movie not working on a particular player is not unusual, but two emails
about the same disc having a quarrel with the same player set the alarm bells
Home Video, which distributes 102 Dalmatians in the UK, claimed not to be aware
of any compatibility issues but a Toshiba spokesperson confirmed that there is
a problem with this disc. This is where it all gets a bit hazy; apparently
there is something wrong with the disc's layer change, which prevents the
player from reading the disc's table of contents and other makes of players
will also be affected, though we haven't heard of any yet.
Good news is that Toshiba players have upgradeable firmware (the software that
controls how the player works), and the latest release – version 3.1 – should
solve the problem. To find out which version your player has switch it on,
without a disc in the tray, wait until it goes into Stop mode then press the
following buttons on the handset: Zoom, 6, 0, 6 and the screen will display the
version number. The upgrade is free and all you have to do is contact the
dealer where it was purchased from or Toshiba's Customer Service department on
0800 281 137.
A REAL CONVERT
I have to
challenge your answer to Matthew Sheppard (What DVD 31, November). First, our
digital standards converter uses 8Mbit memory to hold the video in full
broadcast TV resolution with 4:2:2 sampling. Secondly it has been stated by
reviewers to be the best one available at up to twice
the price and offers full S-Video quality. Conversion using our ACE
Converter from NTSC to PAL gives almost no loss of picture definition
compared to a direct S-Video connection. Colours are never unstable. With
comb filter colour decoder and all digital processing the results are
In fact Sharon Murie (the writer of the original letter in WDVD 29) seems only
to need colour conversion since I gather her TV shows a stable and proper sized
picture with NTSC, just without colour. The simple converters at £40 should do
the job quite well although our unit would give even better results with its
more sophisticated circuitry. If her TV can show 525-line pictures properly
then she could use our very flexible converter to change only the colour
standard. This would result in no jerkiness at all, but by simply switching to
625 lines she could use her DVDs on any PAL-only equipment, including her PAL
Our unit is priced at £299.95 so Sharon might still want to go out and buy a
new TV but please don't dismiss the converter option on quality alone as this
is quite unfair.
Hathaway, via email
haven’t tried it I do not dispute that your company's converter does a truly
wonderful job, but then it costs quite a bit more than the £40 converters
mentioned in the letter. I stand by my comments regarding budget standards
converters. All of the models I've seen and tested produce a noticeable
reduction in picture quality. Of course people's perception of picture quality
vary and 'doing the job quite well', as you put it may be good enough for some.
Personally, I think that any change or reduction in the picture quality of DVD
is very unwelcome; movies on DVD can look and sound spectacular – and for once
you don't have to spend a fortune on kit too get excellent results – but your favourite movies end up looking
like hairy old VHS recordings, what's the point?
I have a hack
for the Grundig GDV-220, which allows region free or
defined region use. Turn on the player; press together, Play, Skip, Forward and
Open/Close, on the player, not on the remote and the service menu is revealed. Use the remote
to scroll and select Region Set, select Free or chosen region. You may need to
change colour set to Auto to play NTSC on your TV's. Press Select on
remote and enjoy. Mine plays all RCE without problems.
Michael Harland, via email
I haven't come across that one before and unfortunately haven't got a GDV-220
to hand to try it out, so let us know how you get on with it.
Please can you help? I have recently
acquired a Thomson DTH-4000, it was advertised as being able to play US and UK
DVD's, so can you please tell me if this model can play US DVD's, or can be
formatted to do so?
Karen Smith, via email
Is there any
way to play other region DVD's on the Samsung DVD 511 as I
am going to the US soon and hope to buy some there?
Paul Stewart, via email
Both models can
be persuaded to play American Region 1 discs and they share the same
warranty-friendly handset hack. It begins with a so-called 'Cold Start', which
puts the player into its virgin setup mode. To do that switch it on, make sure
the disc tray is empty then press and hold the Play and Stop buttons on the
front panel. After a few moments the language menu appears, choose 1 for
English (using the handset keypad) then press the following buttons: Repeat, 3,
8, 7, 6, 7, then the region number (1 to 6) or 9 for all regions. Lastly press
Open on the player and Standby on the remote. If you change to R1 and you want
to get it back to R2 then repeat the procedure and but this time use the code:
Repeat 2, 9, 3, 3, 4
please be so kind as to tell me the unlock code for my Bush 2004 DVD player?
oblige. There are two possibilities, depending on the age of the machine. If
it's an older model open the disc tray and press 7, 7 and Enter on the handset,
then on the menu that appears change to the region number you require, or 13
for all region play. On later models the hack is disc tray open and press 2, 0,
0, 1 on the handset keypad for all region playback.
I have just
purchased an Aiwa XD-DV170 HR, which is set to region 3. It was
purchased in the Middle East. I would very much appreciate the hack for
this machine in order I may unlock region three to multi region.
replay on this very cute little player is quite straightforward. Switch the
machine off then press and hold the Top Menu, OSD and Menu buttons on the
machine until 'Factory' is shown on the LCD display. Press and hold the Power
button to switch it off and it's done.
I have a
Pioneer NSDV55 system, which I love very much. What I would love more than
anything though is to watch Driven on it. However, as Driven is Region 1
and my system only plays Region 2, I cannot.
I have asked and asked and asked, and I can't find anybody anywhere that
knows how to unlock the region code thingamabob that they put on these
Do you know if there is a hack that will work, or if it can be chipped at
all. If so where and how would I get this done?
Paul C, via email
are no handset hacks for this model so you'll either have to wait for the R2
release or get your player modified. Several companies offer an all-region 'chipping' service – you have to send your
player away to get it done -- and this
typically costs around £85. Don't forget if you have it chipped you can kiss
goodbye to the manufacturer's warranty. If you're still interested have a look
Is there a
handset hack for the Sony DAV-S300?
Jeff Smith, via
I currently own
a DVD player that only plays region 1 DVDs. I want to know if it is possible to
get it upgraded to play region 1-6 discs.
Please could you tell me are there any codes
using the remote for a Panasonic RV-40 DVD player?
Mr Sanderson, via email
Bad news I'm
afraid for messrs Smith, Adebayo and Sanderson, the region locks on these
players are all as solid as a rock and the only way you'll get them to play
discs from other regions is to have them chipped.
Ó R. Maybury 2001, 0810