SUPER BITS AND PIECES
I have been reading recently about new SuperBit DVDs that
will give better sound and picture quality again, due to the increased storage
space. I like the idea
of a better quality film experience, but will we have to buy new DVD players to
play these discs?
Craig Inward, Llanelli
Flexibility has always been a key feature of the DVD format
and it was built into the digital processing systems from a very early stage,
opening the way for a range of enhancements as the technology matures. One such
development is SuperBit. The discs are physically identical to ordinary DVDs,
they have exactly the same storage capacity (typically 4.7Gb per side) and
contain precisely the same sort of digital data, namely an MPEG 2 datastream
and therefore will play on any normal DVD player. What makes them different is
that SuperBit DVDs do away with all of the extras and bonus material (it’s on a
second disc). This frees up a lot of space, which is filled by a new encoding
process that allows the data bit rate to be effectively doubled. Basically that
means the picture can contain more information – the original recordings are
re-mastered -- so a SuperBit DVD should look sharper and more detailed.
little early to say how it will pan out; only Columbia Tristar has announced
they’ll be releasing SuperBit discs, and so far only for the Region 1 market,
but early reports suggest there is an improvement. It’s most noticeable on
high-end equipment, and in particular DVD players and displays than use the
‘progressive scan’ system. The latter is a development that eliminates flicker
and gives video displays a more ‘filmic’ quality, but it requires suitably
equipped player and display, and only works properly on NTSC (i.e. Region 1)
recordings. Long story short, SuperBit DVDs sound promising but you’ll need
Region 1 kit to watch them; if and when R2 titles are released you won’t have
to buy a new player but it will help to have high end kit and it goes without
saying that the discs will cost quite a bit more.
I own a Sony DVP-S536D, which has given me reliable and
trouble-free entertainment for a year now. Last week, along with thousands of
sci-fi buffs, and no doubt encouraged
by the number of column inches devoted to its release, I ran down to the local
store to buy Star Wars, Episode One. From the first minute there was trouble at
‘t mill... The picture froze, pixellated and jumped! Several copies later, same
problem. All my other discs seem to play perfectly. Could this be a hardware
problem or have there been any reported problems with Phantom Menace?
Anthony Evans, via email
The Phantom Menace was one of the most eagerly awaited DVD
releases in the history of the universe, well, the history of DVD at any rate.
Discs have been produced in huge volumes and every second of it has been
minutely scrutinised, dissected and examined, first in the US and more recently
when the R2 version was released. You can be absolutely certain that if there
were any serious problems with it we would have heard all about it very
quickly. Needless to say with such a large production run there have been
reports of a few faulty discs but technically both disc (movie and extras) have
got a clean bill of health, moreover we’re not aware of any significant player
Since you say that your machine is otherwise behaving
itself this is a bit of a mystery; I can only suggest that you give the deck
mechanism a run-through with good quality disc cleaner, and maybe try your
latest troublesome disc on a friends player. If it throws a wobbly on that one
this might indicate you’ve been getting discs from an iffy batch, but I admit
that it’s a bit of a long shot. Meanwhile I’ll keep digging around and if
anyone else has had a similar problem with this combination of disc and player
I would be very interested to hear about it.
I’m quite new to this DVD stuff, and recently I was lent the
DVD "Leon" by a friend but when I placed it into my player it would
not play and a message came up on my TV saying to check the regional code of
the DVD. What
is the difference between a region 1 & 2 disc and can you tell before
buying which region the disc is?
Ali Fox, via email
In theory all DVDs and their library cases, plus all players
and the boxes they come in should be clearly marked with the standard Region
Code logo. It’s a little globe-shaped symbol with a number in the middle.
However I have plenty of discs in my collection with non-standard design region
logos, other’s that are so small they’re easily missed, or badly printed and
one or two early recordings with nothing at all. I’ve also seen various pirate
Video CD movies masquerading as DVDs with the DVD and region logos clearly
printed on the disc and case, so yes, it can be a minefield. All I can say is
look out for the logo – you should be okay when you buy discs from established
retailers and dealers – but always double-check or play safe when you’re not
sure about the source
By the way, you mention that you have a Philips DVD-955,
I’m not familiar with this particular model but I suspect that the hack to
enable all-region playback for its stablemates the DVD-950 and DVD-956 will
also work with your machine. There are actually two hacks; one uses codes
entered via the supplied handset, but this only works a limited number of
times. The other one has no limitations that I’m aware of but you’ll need an
One4All 6 Universal Remote. Use the set up the code 0539, press the ‘Magic’
button then enter 085. The players front panel display should now read
‘--------‘, now enter the following code with the Philips handset 222 222 005
255, press Play and it’s ready to go.
I have a multi region Sony DVP-S735 DVD player and it has
been fine up until now playing any region DVDs. I recently purchased a region 1
DVD and it said it would not work with this DVD player because it is not coded
correctly. I have heard that the Yanks
have changed their region code so
that their discs wont play in region 2
DVD players. Is there a chip out
yet for my machine and where can I
purchase one (on-line hopefully) as I am
working in Saudi.
Marty Watson, via email
No, the Americans haven’t changed their Region code as such
but some studios have introduced a tweak to the system called Region Code
Enhancement or RCE. This is a cunning trick that stops Region 1 DVDs working on
players that have been set to ‘all-region’ playback. It doesn’t usually affect
players when they are configured for Region 1 playback only, so if you can set
the region code on your machine manually it should be okay. Otherwise, without
knowing which sort of ‘chip’ has been used on your player it’s hard to say if
there’s a retrofittable RCE fix. I doubt if it can be done without going back
to square one and getting the machine re-chipped but you could consult the
dealer or retailer that sold it to you.
I'm new to DVD and have bought a multi region player. What
I would like to know is, are any gadgets needed to convert NTSC into PAL?
J. Vineym via email
There are but you shouldn’t need one. Most DVD players sold
in the UK already have this facility built in and can play back NTSC discs
(region code permitting on R2 only players). As usual there’s a couple of
provisos, firstly most players with NTSC replay capability do not fully convert
the video signal coming off the disc from NTSC to PAL, instead they use a
process known as ‘pseudo PAL’ or ‘PAL 60’, whereby only the colour information
is converted to the PAL standard but the 525-line 60Hz line structure of the
NTSC video signal is left ‘as is’.
This is not a problem as most PAL TVs built within the last
8 to 10 years can handle this type of hybrid signal (we can thank the use of
multi-standard processing chips in TVs, used to reduce manufacturing costs, for
this handy facility). The picture might appear letterboxed or squashed on some
older TVs but in most cases the picture quality should be fine. A few early DVD
players do not have this facility and just play what’s on the disc, so an NTSC
disc produces an NTSC video output, in which case you’ll get a black and white
picture on most TVs. The only way to get a colour picture is to watch it on a
multi-standard TV, or buy a converter, prices start at less than £100 and
companies like Lektropacks (www.lektropacks.co.uk) carry a good range of more advanced models. A
couple of players do full signal conversion and obviously this will work on any
PAL TV, irrespective of age.
For Region 1 titles I recommend a Canadian company www.dvdboxoffice.com, they offer free delivery and most DVDs cost around
Kevin Bennett, Broxburn, West Lothian
Thanks for that and as usual we’re always pleased to give a
plug to companies recommended by readers that provide good service. Any more?
CRACK CODE CLINIC
I have just recently purchased a Denon DVD-F100 player and
surround amplifier. I have just come back from Canada with numerous Region 1
DVDs. I managed to buy the Matrix, Final Fantasy and A Knights Tale all for £8
each! If it is possible can you tell me how to hack my player so I can watch
Gary Williams, via email
Sorry, I’ve searched high and low for a hack and come up
with zilch but several companies are offering a ‘chipping’ service, check out: http://www.techtronics.com/uk/shop/
50-denon-100-multi-region-dvd-player.html. There’s a DIY mod for on £18, but it comes with a
warning that you need to be really handy with a soldering iron!
I have a Wharfedale DVD-750 that will only let me play
Region 2 DVDs - is there a code to crack this one? I noticed in a recent issue
there was a tip for a Wharfedale M5 but that one didn't work on mine. Please
tell me how!
Gareth Jordan, via email
There are now three all-region hacks for this machine,
depending whether it’s a straightforward DVD-750, or an early or late model
750s. The basic 750 hack is open draw, insert R1 disc, press 0123 Play. (To
return to the R2 default settings open the tray, press Zoom then Return and
when the player goes into standby press Power). For early versions of the 750s
the handset buttons to press are: Open/Close, Zoom, A-B, cursor Up, Left, Down,
Right and ‘Region Free’ appears on the screen. To set it to a specific region
press Open/Close, 1111, ‘Region’ appears on the screen and you can enter the
region number. The procedure for resetting factory default is Open/Close, Zoom,
cursor Up, Left, Down, Right. Finally, the all region hack for late model 750s
players is Open/Close, Step, Previous, Next and ‘Region Free’ should be
displayed. You can set a specific region by pressing Open/Close, 0750 then the
Region number. To restore R2 and factory defaults press Open/Close, Slow,
Previous, Next. Please note, usual disclaimers apply about doing hack jobs on
your player, it’s at your own risk and it’s not our fault if it goes horribly
I have a Sanyo DC-DAV821 DVD player. Could you let me know
if there is a way I can convert it to play DVDs from all regions?
Martin, via email
Sorry Martin, I can find nothing on this one.
I jumped on the DVD bandwagon quite early with the purchase
of the Grundig GDV-210. Could you please tell me if there is a magic spell that
will allow me to enjoy R1 discs, or is it part exchange time?
Colin Ellis, via email
Hang on to that player, there’s life in the old dog yet. It
can be converted to all region replay but there are problems with some discs
(The Matrix is one) and it doesn’t like RCE coding. Apparently a firmware
upgrade is available that solves these problems and you might want to have a
word with your local Grundig dealer before you mess with it. There are two
hacks to try, on very early models place an R1 disc in the tray and press 0123
play (similar to the Wharfedale 750). On later models hold down Stop, Open/Close,
Skip Forward buttons on the player for 3 seconds, release the buttons when a
menu appears and set the region code or the ‘Free’ option, when you exit the
menu the machine should go into standby mode. By the way, stay well clear of
the Initialised Type menu or you’ll run the risk of doing your player a
SONY DC-DAV821 and DVP-NS300
I have purchased a Sony home cinema DVD (DC-DAV821) and I
would like to know if there is anyway I can make it all-region?
M. D. Brewer, via email
Are you aware of any way to play region 1 disks on a Sony
Karen Noonan, via email
Sorry you two, not as far as I know, the region coding on
Sony players is as solid as a rock and the only way they’ll play R1 discs is to
have them chipped, which, needless to say, will void your warranty.
JVC XV-M557 & XV-S42SL
I have a JVC XV-M557 three-disc auto-changer, is there
a hack to make it play region 1 discs?
Norman from Stourbridge.
I have recently bought a JVC XV-S42SL, is there a remote
hack for this machine, or chip available yet as I buy most DVS's from the
Johnson, via email
More bad news I’m afraid, the only JVC I’m aware of that
can be handset hacked is the XV-2000, all other models seem to be locked up
tight and can only be chipped.
Ó R. Maybury 2001,