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Unique Features of Region Free DVD Players
Each DVD made in a particular region has its own region code, which is embedded as a byte of disc information that the DVD player checks before playback. DVD players and discs are encoded by inserting their region number overlaid on a globe. If a disc can be played in more than one region, it will have more than one number on the globe. This means that a disc purchased in one country cannot be played on a DVD player purchased in another country. Therefore, the DVD standard includes region-specific codes to prevent DVD playback in certain geographic regions.
Prevent illegal playback of pirated DVDs
The biggest requirement for implementing the concept of region-specific codes was to prevent illegal playback of pirated DVDs in certain countries. Films made in the United States are released on a staggered basis around the world. The DVDs are also released a few months after the film’s theatrical release. However, it is very easy to illegally copy DVDs and distribute these films in other countries even before they are officially released in their theaters. In addition, film studios sell distribution rights to various foreign distributors and wish to guarantee an exclusive market. This piracy leads to huge financial losses for production companies.
Also on DVDs, movies are released at different times around the world, usually first in America and Canada, later in Australia and Japan, and then in Europe. In some cases, DVD movies are available for purchase in America and Canada even before they are released in European cinemas.
Considering the high quality of DVD movies and the staggered release system of movies, six regions have been established to prevent people from watching region 1 movies before they are released in regions 2 through 6. The six regions are the following; Region 1 being the United States and Canada, Region 2 comprising Japan, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. Region 3 includes East and Southeast Asia, while Region 4 includes Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Region 5 includes Eastern Europe, Africa, North Korea, Mongolia and the Indian subcontinent, while Region 6 includes China. An additional Region 7 for reserved category and Region 8 for special international locations like airplanes and cruise ships have also been designated.
At the service of the traveler
However, these region-coded DVDs can be very limiting these days as the world becomes a global village. People travel a lot around the world and like to have access to entertainment without any restrictions. To counter this problem, region-free and code-free DVD players have been designed. These DVD players are capable of playing a disc made in any region and having any region code, anywhere in the world. To create such a layout in the DVD player, some changes are made to its playback mechanism. There are some global converters available in the market which can convert the encoded DVD player to region free DVD player.
Modifying DVD drives
Some DVD players can be physically modified with chipset technology to play discs regardless of their region codes. This procedure, however, voids the warranty provided by the manufacturer, but is not illegal in most countries. Some players have a provision for modification using special command sequences to a no-code mode using a remote. Several retailers sell DVD players that are already modified for multiple regions, or in some cases provide instructions on how to install the region changing features already built into the player.
NTSC, SECAM and PAL
Most countries have television standards that are incompatible with those of other countries. These TV standards can be classified into three main categories, NTSC, PAL and SECAM.
The first (color) TV broadcasting system, launched in 1953 in the United States, was based on the standard called NTSC (National Television System Committee). NTSC works with 525 lines/frame and 30 frames per second. NTSC is the television format used in Canada, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, United States and other countries.
In the 1960s, the PAL (Phase Alternating Line) standard was introduced in many European countries, most of Africa, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, South Korea North and other countries – except France. The PAL standard uses a larger channel bandwidth than NTSC, providing better picture quality. PAL uses 625 lines/frame and 25 frames per second.
The SECAM, also known as the Sequential Couleur Avec Memoire or Sequential Color with Memory, standard arrived in France in the 1960s. SECAM also has the same bandwidth as PAL, but it transmits color information sequentially.
NTSC and PAL decoding with the flip of a switch
NTSC and PAL standards are mutually incompatible. With a multi-system TV, you can view both NTSC and PAL formatted DVDs. A region-free DVD player with a built-in PAL to NTSC and NTSC to PAL converter allows a viewer to watch various system DVDs. A codeless DVD player is able to decode both NTSC and PAL with the flick of a switch, allowing the user to watch imported DVDs on the same DVD player. External converter boxes are also available, such as the Emerson EVC1595. Several high quality converters are available from companies such as Tenlab, Snell and Wilcox.
There are a range of additional features available in a no-code DVD player, such as multi-format playback, which allows the user to play formats other than DVDs. Most multi-format DVD players are compatible with CDs, MP3s, DVD audio, DVD-R/DVD-RAM, CD-R/RW and WMA. However, it is always advisable to read the specifications before purchasing, as not all players are compatible with the same formats.
Parental controls and other cool features
Another useful feature is Parental Controls, which gives parents control over the choice of movies based on the movie ratings allowed for playback. Another extra includes a zoom function that enlarges an image on the screen. The shuttle or jog function provides frame-by-frame scanning and dual laser for better playback of audio discs.
Codeless DVD players are available online at affordable prices. The excellent features and no-code benefits make it a worthwhile investment.
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