Playing DVDs (in computers)
made for other regions

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This is one thing most people do not need to do. But I am adding a section on this here because I recently tried to play a home made video made in the Czech Republic on my computer in America. The video not only did not play, I got that dreadful bluescreen basically saying in order to protect my computer from severe damage, Windows must shutdown. It asked me to re-start my computer and contact the manufacturer of my DVD-ROM drive for further assistance. I hate calling those vendors to be on hold indefinitely and then to get answers which are invariably either wrong or not to the point. So I began my own research (I am really good at that) and got the answer from Microsoft's knowledge base which I shall quote here for the benefit of anybody who might some day face with a similar situation as mine.

For the benefit of those who might not know much about DVD formats, regions etc. let me first give here a short introduction.

DVDs are made in three different formats -- NTSC, PAL, and SECAM and different countries of the world use different formats. North America, parts of South America, Caribbean Islands, Japan, South Korea, etc. use NTSC. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, most of Asia, most of Africa, Greenland, Iceland, and parts of Europe use PAL or PAL/SECAM. Countries like Russia, Mongolia, some parts of Europe, Madagascar, and some parts of Africa use SECAM. The regions mentioned here is just to give an approximate idea about what parts of the world use which format. A lot of sites in the Internet will give a more complete and accuarate list of countries using either NTSC or PAL or SECAM. DVD Compatability FAQ is a good site to get answers for DVD format and region related questions.

Remember free standing DVD players are usually made to play DVDs of certain formats only (e.g., DVD players sold in USA normally will play NTSC format only), though some expensive models can play all formats either automatically or you can switch formats manually. DVD disks are usually labled with Region number. DVDs meant for American markets are labled Region 1 (NTSC format), and so on. But luckily region-free DVDs are also manufactured for worldwide markets that will play in any country on any DVD player.

Now the home made DVD that came from the Czech Republic was in PAL format. I first tried it in my regular (free standing) DVD player. When it did't play, I looked up the manual of the DVD player. It clearly said the machine can only play DVDs marked either Region 1 (NTSC format) or "region-free". Then I tried to play it in my computer when I got that dreaded bluescreen. Most people think computers can play any DVD -- wrong! At least not those computers that have DVD-ROM drives made in or after year 2000. Since that time DVD-ROM drives are created with DVD locking (RPC-2). And I am sure, most people who use computers to watch DVDs today, have computers manufactured after year 2000. (Additional info for advanced users: Please look up DVD Genie, and DVD Region-Free and Region-Free VLC Media Player.)

Now, back to the original topic: Playing DVDs in your computer made for other zones. In America your computer DVD players are set to play DVDs for Region 1 (American system i.e., NTSC format) only, but you can change it for a total of 5 times ONLY. Here is how:

I am quoting the answer below from Microsoft's Knowledge Center located at:

How do I change my DVD region?

DVD movies are encoded for different world regions, and your DVD-ROM drive must be configured for the appropriate region in order to play the DVD.

If you have DVD-decoder software installed on your computer, you can usually change the DVD region setting in the DVD decoder program. Follow the instructions in the program's Help file for changing the DVD region setting.

If you have a software or a hardware DVD decoder installed on your computer, you can use Device Manager to change the DVD region setting in your DVD-ROM configuration:

1. Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.

2. On the Hardware tab, click Device Manager.

3. In the list of devices, double-click DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click the DVD drive for which you want to change region settings, and then click Properties.

4. On the DVD Region tab, make the desired changes.

You must be logged on as an administrator or be a member of the Administrators group in order to change the DVD region.

Note that the DVD region for most DVD-ROMs can only be changed up to five times, and the number of changes still available is located on the DVD Region tab. If the tab shows that you can only change the setting one more time (Changes remaining = 1), you won't be able to play DVDs that use a DVD region that is different from your last selection. If you run out of opportunities to change the setting (Changes remaining = 0), contact your DVD-ROM's manufacturer to reset this value.

I thought that this piece of information might help some advanced users.

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