DVD Mystery

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh, Technology
August 26th, 2005 • 9:28 am

We all know the region coding system was established by movie studios as a way to prevent one region in the world (read: Europe) from being able to view DVDs released in another region (read: North America) before the movies in question are released in the theatres.

We also know that it’s extremely easy to find “region-free” (or “code-free”) DVD players that will allow you to play any DVD from any region in the world, and it’s also fairly easy to find software on-line that allows you to remove the region coding from a DVD and make a region-free copy.

But there is still the issue of PAL vs. NTSC. Region 2 DVDs for the European market are in PAL, and Region 1 DVDs for the North American market are in NTSC. Many DVD players available in Europe are able to play NTSC DVDs on a PAL TV, but, as far as I know, no regular DVD players available in North American stores (not the hacked, region-free ones, but the regular ones) are able to play PAL DVDs on a NTSC TV set without a video converter.

Then how do you explain this: My mother-in-law has just bought a Panasonic DVD-S29 player from her local Future Shop store. As far as I know, it’s not a hacked, region-free DVD player. It’s just a regular, fairly cheap DVD player available everywhere in North America.

Yet she gets sent home-made DVDs from England — and she’s able to play them just fine!

I asked her to lend me one of these home-made DVDs, and it’s most definitely a PAL DVD, with Region 2 coding as far as I can tell. I have two SuperDrives in my G4, one that is Region 1 and the other one that is Region 2. If I insert the DVD in the Region 1 SuperDrive, it never shows up on the desktop. If I insert it in the Region 2 SuperDrive, it shows up on the desktop as a DVD titled “SONY_DVD_RECORDER_VOLUME” (it was recorded in England with a Sony RDR-GX7 DVD recorder), but I am unable to play it with DVD Player.

When I look at it with 0SEx, it quite clearly indicates that the video stream is a PAL signal. I can make a copy of the DVD with DVDBackup, removing the region coding in the process, and then I have a DVD that I can play with DVD Player on my Mac, from either SuperDrive, but I still cannot play it with my regular DVD player in the living room.

So as far as I can tell, it’s a home-made Region 2 PAL DVD. Yet my mother-in-law can take this DVD home and play it just fine with her plain-vanilla Panasonic DVD-S29.

Did I miss something here? Is Future Shop selling region-free DVD players that are able to play both PAL and NTSC DVDs on an NTSC TV without any problems?

I would find this very surprising. Yet I don’t see any other explanation here.

2 Responses to “DVD Mystery”

  1. philb says:

    The DVD is PAL, but (because it’s home-made) it’s not region tagged, so your region 1 player is quite happy to play it.

    DVD players don’t do PALNTSC conversion, but most TVs can handle either signal, at least through a SCART connection.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    My mother-in-law does have a fairly new TV, but still… That doesn’t explain why I cannot play the DVD in any of my DVD players. Can’t play it with my North American Sony DVD player/recorder (a RDR-GX7, on top of that!). Can’t play it with my older region-free DVD player which handles commercial Region 2 PAL DVDs from Europe just fine. Can’t play it with either SuperDrive in my G4. Still doesn’t make sense!

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