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Play any region-coded DVD
Authored by: jonreades on Mar 26, '09 12:54:01PM

The success (or lack thereof) of this approach depends on the manufacturer of the drive.

For *most* of DVD history the drive makers were too lazy/cost conscious to produce models that were different at a physical level from one another just because the MPAA wanted region-encoding to segment markets. Having moved from the US to the UK with my TiBook I was able to easily update the firmware on my drive so that I could play both my US and UK DVDs without running out of switches. In fact, in a quite a few audio/video stores in London you can go in and buy 'region free' components (where they update the firmware once you've paid for the drive).

This meant that at worst you 'only' needed to figure out how to replace the firmware that shipped with the drive in order to have a fully region-free drive. Another option that worked on many drives turned out to be just mounting the disk but not treating it as a video or reading it with Apple's approved player (viz. VLC).

However, a few years back Apple switched many of the portables to Matshita, which appears to have something buried very deep in the drive that 'remembers' which zone it's working in. So a video from another region won't even mount for reading until you've used up one of your five free switches. To my knowledge no one has figured out how to replace the Matshita firmware and, even if they had, there'd still be some kind of problem playing discs from other regions because of what is apparently some separate region register.

If you're a conspiracy buff you'd attribute Apple's use of these crappy, but MPAA-friendly drives to the tie up with a friendly mouse.

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