BD region free players now available (it was just a matter of time)

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Adam Gregorich, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. Adam Gregorich

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    From Consumer Electronics Daily:

    "The hack, from Dutch-based Stegen Electronics, so far is limited to Pioneer and Sony players, we found. But Stegen also has work in progress on Samsung's popular and low-priced BD-P1400 and Panasonic's new DMP-BD30, it said.

    The online retailer claims street cred dating to the first hacks of DVD regional coding. "Hundreds of hours of development have gone into the modifications for the Sony line of Blu-ray players," Stegen's website boasts. "We have modified thousands of DVD players since 1997, so you can be assured it is 100% working." The modifications or "mods" to make DVD players read discs from all regions came in response to frustration among European and Asian consumers about titles not available in their regions for months after their release in N. American Region 1. The first player-mods were hard-wired changes to player circuit boards -- as our predecessor publication Television Digest was the first to try. Software-based mods came soon after, usually implemented by entering codes through players' remote controls. For years, so-called "multi-region" players have been commonplace and widely available in regions outside N. America -- and openly sold with impunity despite their tenuous legal status.

    Stegen's Blu-ray mod -- the first to emerge -- also is hard-wired. The company offers 89-euro kits with boards that require "advanced soldering skills." For 150 euros, it will take players from existing Blu-ray customers and modify them. And Stegen sells new modified players. Models available for modification or first-time sale include Pioneer's BDP-LX70A and U.S.-equivalent Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD. Those high-end players sell for 1,599 euros at Stegen. More affordable are Sony's entry-level BDP-S300 at 599 euros, and Sony's step-up BDP-S500 for 899 euros.

    The BDA had no comment, but it's fairly obvious the mods would violate hardware warranties. More important, the mods raise an issue about whether the players maintain their ability to receive firmware updates, which happen often with Blu-ray players. Stegen claims its hardwired mods don't jeopardize future-proofing in Blu-ray players. "Even with the modification installed, the players remain fully upgradable with the latest firmware updates," the company said."
     
  2. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    Hm, interesting. I had been in contact with them recently about their "mods", and region free wasn't one of them mentioned. We talked at great length about what they do, and it included upgrading the power supply too. Supposedly, this will greatly improve audio quality primarily as well as improving video quality, but somewhat less significantly. They said they've done a lot of PS3's as well, but I'm not willing to send my player half way across the globe. Meanwhile, I'll just have to content myself with a region free XA2.
     
  3. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Fascinating. While I understand the studios' desire for region coding, I also understand the consumers' desire to be able to... well... purchase and watch BD movies.

    I personally have owned two region-free DVD players (still have both of them) and don't doubt that my future might include a region-free HDM device at some point as well. I hope that the BDA does what the DVD industry has done in the case of region-free DVD units: turn a blind eye and allow the minority of consumers who purchase such units to enjoy their purchased world-wide software for personal use.
     
  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Just a matter of time till HDMI handshaking is hacked too and pure digital 1080p streams are rippable if they arent already...
     
  5. Adam Gregorich

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    In other words never underestimate the consumer (or the hacker). If I remember correctly the first/easiest DVD player to "hack" was a Sony too. That paved the way for the Apex and other brands to "accidently" allow you to change the region code via the remote with no hacks. Like David said hopefully they will turn a blind eye to it.

    Sam-
    I agree. There is no reason to now, but as soon as the image constraint token starts to be used, someone will come out with a "little black box".
     
  6. James_M

    James_M Stunt Coordinator

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    So when will we get a BD player that's also SD region free?
     
  7. Sanjay Gupta

    Sanjay Gupta Supporting Actor

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    Actually, there was no need to hack anything with the first Sony player, the SD-7000. All one had to do was to remove the cover on the player, and lo & behold there was a switch to activate/de-activate regional coding. [​IMG] I don't know whether this was deliberate on Sony's part, or that they simply screwed up. Anyhow, in the next model, the SD-7700, Sony simply removed the switch, but the terminals for the switch were still right there on the board. Thus, all one had to do was to short the two terminals to de-activate the regional coding function.

    By the way, here in India, every single DVD player sold, by all the companies, have their region coding, factory de-activated. If not, then the company gives you a code that you can enter, to turn of the region coding. So much for region coding and companies adhering to DVD standards.
     
  8. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]

    Excellent, excellent news. Although availability of region-free Blu-ray players is limited at the moment, I'm sure it won't take long before some other entrepreneurs follow suit.

    Blu-ray is looking more and more enticing now!
     
  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Excellent news indeed!
    But I fear that any firmware upgrade might deactivate the deactivation ([​IMG] ) by overwriting it.
    If so, the hack may even have to be modified for each firmware level.

    It's unfortunate that BD-players are specifically sensitive to this, because so many firmware upgrades are to be expected.

    Unless it's basically (the equivalent of) one of those switches Sanjay referred to, of course! [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  10. Sanjay Gupta

    Sanjay Gupta Supporting Actor

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  11. Cees Alons

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  12. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    I believe it was mentioned by one of the insiders over at AVS that such a provision would violate Blu-Ray specs, accidental, covert or not. The hardware guys' lawyers have this one covered this time.
     
  13. Adam Gregorich

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    I'm sure it does/will, but I think it violates the DVD specs too. Most companies are willing to look the other way. Hopefully that will be the case with BD too.
     
  14. Danny_N

    Danny_N Second Unit

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    They give two years guarantee on the mod (which also makes the player region 1/2 for SD) and take over normal warranty from Pioneer and Sony. Stegen has an excellent name in doing mods. They were one of the first to make normal DVD players region free as well. Anyway, I ordered a Pioneer LX70 yesterday so I'll be region free soon [​IMG].
     
  15. TonyTone

    TonyTone Supporting Actor

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    One can only hope that someone comes out w/ a more elegant/simpler solution--whether it be so that BD players can play region-free BD movies or SD ones.

    Apples and oranges, but at least that's why my A2--and soon-to-arrive XA2--still hold some value...both can be modded via firmware (i.e., no "hard-wiring" needed) to play region-free and/or PAL SD DVDs...and I believe the majority of HD DVD movies out there today are not region-specific, so no need for a hack in order to play region-free HD DVDs.
     
  16. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    HD DVD had no region coding. It made all those Japanese titles without English subtitles even more frustrating.
     
  17. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Of course, BD has only 3 regions (A,B,C) and Japan and the USA are in the same "A" region... so hopefully they'll put english subs on Japanese BDs...

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Hello all,

    Apologies if this may belong in another forum. I don't visit the BR or hardware boards much but should more often [​IMG]

    I've been looking at some online Region-Free Blu-Ray Players and I have a question about what is currently available for the following options:

    Is there presently an all-region (Std & BR regions) Blu-Ray player available that also has an internal PAL/NTSC Converter inside the player?

    Is an external PAL/NTSC Converter necessary at the present time for all Region-Free Blu-Ray players?

    I don't know if my Panasonic 50" Plasma TV Model TH50PZ85U TV is compatible with the PAL 50 FPS frame rate. I've been attempting to find that answer and was wondering if anyone here may own the same or similar model Panasonic Plasma set. I'd prefer to buy an R-Free BR player with an internal Converter if possible to avoid the additional expense of an exernal Converter. (I am using the HDMI outputs/inputs for all viewing).

    I've owned a Std Upconvert R-Free player for a couple of years (PIONEER DV-400V) with no issues (no RCE playback problems, PAL/NTSC conversion works great).

    I am an avid proponent of R-Free capability as you all are, from reading the posts here. Hopefully, there's no issues to date with the R-free hardware mods affecting future firmware BR updates.

    [edit] I did some Google'ing and found this spec for my TV: 24p Playback(2:3) Yes
    Does that mean that my TV is capable of viewing PAL-region BR DVD's?
    [end edit]
     
  19. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Jeff,

    Someone else will have to reply to your question about region-free BD players on the market, but at least I can assure you that NTSC/PAL is no longer an issue for BD discs if you own a HD TV set (or projector) and use an HDMI connection.

    NTSC and PAL were standards of the old TV broadcast era, and not applicable to the 1080i/p and 24fps (etc.) HD standards. The player will output a 720p or 1080 p/i signal and your TV will display it.


    Cees
     
  20. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Cees,

    Thanks for the info! I've been discovering that this subject is somewhat vague when attempting to get information about HD TV's & PAL compatibility. I received an e-mail reply from a Tech Support employee of one of the larger region-free online outlets. He said that I would need the PAL/NTSC Converter to view R2/4 DVD's on my US-purchased Panny Plasma set. Of course, the guy may be trying to get me to purchase an unnecessary Converter [​IMG] .

    I wonder if it would be necessary to have the Converter when playing Std Upconverted PAL DVD's on a BR player but that the Converter isn't needed for BR Region B DVD's?

    Here's an excerpt from one of the online R-Free stores regarding the PAL/NTSC issue with their R-Free BR players:


    Cees, you can see why I've been a little [​IMG] about the issue [​IMG]

    Since I have several Std PAL TV/DVD sets and a couple of movies from R2/4, I'm looking for a Region-Free BR player that will play Std PAL DVD's as well as BR DVD's from Region "B" on my Panny Plasma set.
     

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