Page 1 of 7: Introduction

The Complete Region-free Guide
Version 2.0 (3 July 2001)
Introduction DVD DIGEST
    The aim of this guide is quite simple - it is here to help you make your PC-DVD system region-free, so you will be able to playback DVDs you have legally purchsed from anywhere around the world.

    We hope you enjoy this guide.

  • Version 2.0 - 3 July 2001 - Completely re-wrote the guide and added more region-free information.

    Before you proceed with this guide, there are some frequently used technical terms you should familiarise yourself with :

      Firmware - This refers to a small piece of software that is embedded in your hardware (eg. A DVD-ROM drive). This firmware can be usually updated through software to fix any bugs or problems that may arise.

      Hardware/Software DVD player - You should know the difference between a hardware DVD player (ie. a hardware decoder card, like the Creative DXR-3 or RealMagic Hollywood+) and a software DVD player (eg. PowerDVD or WinDVD). A hardware DVD player will usually be a PCI card, and has outputs on the back of the card/your computer for connection to your TV/external sound system. A software DVD player, on the other hand, depends on your available hardware (eg. CPU, Video/Sound card). For more information on this, and other PC-DVD related issues, please consult The PC-DVD Guide

      Jumper - A jumper is a small plastic plug that is place over the pins on your hardware (eg. A DVD-ROM drive) to control certain functions.

      Region Counter - A counter in hardware or software that stores the number of region changes still available. Everytime you change the region settings, the counter will decrease. Counter usually starts at 4, and when it reaches 0, you'll no longer be able to change the region settings.

      Region Free - Region-free can mean that your DVD device (eg. DVD-ROM drive) will not check for the region settings of your DVD movie, and will infact playback any movie from any region. Note that this is different to "automatic region detect", some standalone DVD players use - the region setting is not checked at all with these kind of region-free devices. Region-free can also mean that you have the ability to change the region settings of your DVD device (eg. Hardware/software DVD player) without decreasing the Region Counter (see above), and hence, have the ability to change the region settings of your DVD device for an unlimited number of times.

      Region Locking - If your DVD device (eg. DVD-ROM drive or Hardware/software DVD player) is said to be region-locked, then it means that you can no longer change the region settings for this device. If your DVD device is said to be region-locking, then it means that while your device may not be locked yet, if you continue to change its region settings, then it will be locked after the number of changes allowed (stored in the Region Counter - see above) is used up.

      RPC Phase 1 or 2 - Phase 1 refers to region-free status, where region control solely rests with the software/hardware decoder. Phase 2 refers to region-locked status, where region control rests with both the DVD-ROM drive and the decoder.

      Setting a region - With some firmware, a region must be set before you can use it. "Setting" a region simply means that your drive has a region setting (as detected by Drive Info) set as the current setting - it does not mean that the drive needs to be "locked" to a certain setting (ie. you can still have a number of user changes left). Most RPC-2 DVD-ROM drives comes with a region changing/setting utility - if you don't have one, you acan use the Toshiba Region Change utility, which should work with all RPC-2 drives.

    It is expected that you should at least know what regions mean for DVD movies. If you do not know this, please consult The PC-DVD Guide on what regions are, and which region you are currently in. The PC-DVD region system is organized in the following (and sometimes confusing) manner :

      1. Your RPC-2 DVD-ROM drive has a region setting, and has a region change counter, with 4-5 possible region changes. The region setting and counter on your drive are stored in hardware memory, and cannot be modified easily. They are also completely independent of any other region settings/counters you may have in your system (so changing one will not affect the other).

      2. Your Hardware/Software DVD player will also have its own region setting and counters (again, with 4-5 possible region changes) that is independent of any other region settings/counters on your system (eg. your DVD-ROM drive may be region 2 with 3 changes left, while your hardware/software DVD player will be region 5 with 4 changes left). Most software/hardware DVD players are designed so that it will try to match the region setting of your DVD movie automatically (or prompt you to change the region setting), and decrease the counter appropriately. Some may also change the region settings of your DVD-ROM drive to match as well.

      3. Your operating system (eg. Windows 98 or above) will also have its own internal region settings and counters (but perhaps with only 1 possible change) that is independent of any other region settings/counters on your system.

    In order for a DVD movie to play, the region setting of the DVD movie must match that of the above 3 region settings (note that not all DVD players, eg. PowerDVD 3.0, checks for the Windows internal region setting). So for example, in the extreme case where your DVD-ROM drive's region settings and your hardware/software DVD player's region settings and Windows's own internal region settings do not match, all 3 will have to be changed to match the region setting of your DVD movie in order to playback that particular movie. Confused yet?



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