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Multi-region DVD queries


Guest Russell Lucas
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Guest Russell Lucas

My four-year old Panny DVD player is not responding well. It has rejected outright two separate copies of The Matrix Reloaded. Won't even load it. Is my DVD player developing taste? Maybe so. It plays just about everything else. Nevertheless, I've been curious about exploring that cheap multi-region one that can be bought at Best Buy.

Mr. Leary, did you end up buying that one? If "yes," what sort of great multi-region discs have you bought? Have you used it much?

Any other views are also warmly sought.

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It might cost a bit more than you care to spend, but I own a Malata multi-region player. The great thing about this player, aside from being multi-region, is that it also does PAL to NTSC conversion. I've had it for about a year, and I never had any problems with any disc, regardless of what part of the world it came from.

http://www.hkflix.com/hardware/malata_dvp-520.asp

They have a cheaper model (which looks pretty slick), but this is the one I have. I've also heard that the Jaton players are really solid too.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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opus wrote:

: The great thing about this player, aside from being multi-region, is that it

: also does PAL to NTSC conversion.

Um, what would be the point of having a multi-region player that DIDN'T do that? Does anyone actually MAKE players like that?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Guest Russell Lucas

I have heard some multi-region players praised because they make the conversion-- apparently if they don't you have to live with the speed-up. Incidentally, the cheap Best Buy one does the conversion.

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Um, what would be the point of having a multi-region player that DIDN'T do that? Does anyone actually MAKE players like that?

I've picked up a number of discs that are from Region 3, but are still NTSC "Ju-On", "Save The Green Planet", "Dolls", "Oasis", etc.). But yeah, if you're doing multi-region, it's only logical to throw in PAL-NTSC conversion, just to cover all the bases.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 1 month later...

And now my three-year-old Apex AD-660 is breaking down. It got a bit jumpy when I had my Two Towers video party last week -- I have played the Dead Marshes sequence three times now, and twice, it has skipped a few seconds there -- and now, as of last night, it won't work at all. My roommate tells me that it just spontaneously began to make a klack-klack, klack-klack, klack-klack noise last night, so he turned it all the way off (instead of turning it "off" with the remote, which leaves the red power light on), and now, whenever I try to turn the player on, it just keeps doing that klack-klack, klack-klack, klack-klack thing. And the second disc of my extended Two Towers set is still in there. And I've got more films to watch for an assignment I'm working on. Grrr.

Anyway, I'm figuring this may be the excuse I need to finally get myself a multi-region player. And as far as retrieving the Two Towers disc is concerned ... well, there are always options (smash the player, buy a new copy, rent it whenever I want to watch it, etc.).

So, DVD-player experts, what are my best options? Know any way I can fix my Apex? Or is there a multi-region player I should be considering, and if so, which one?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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My four-year old Panny DVD player is not responding well.  It has rejected outright two separate copies of The Matrix Reloaded.  Won't even load it...

smile.gif

* * *

Peter, I bought that Cyber Home multi-region machine that Doug recommended, and it's worked great for me. Ultra cheap. Only feature I don't like is the fast-forward mode: the digital read-out displays "FAST FORWARD" instead of the minutes:second counter, and in any FF speed above 2X, the subtitles also disappear. Both quirks are annoying when trying to find specific sections of a DVD to transcribe or show as clips.

A related question - anybody know of a DVD player where you can input a specific minutes:seconds timecode and have the player go to that precise point? That would be SO useful when showing clips in a lecture or sermon, I'm sure some manufacturer must have thought of designing it in?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: Peter, I bought that Cyber Home multi-region machine that Doug

: recommended, and it's worked great for me. Ultra cheap.

Where and how does one acquire said machine?

: Only feature I don't like is the fast-forward mode: the digital read-out

: displays "FAST FORWARD" instead of the minutes:second counter . . .

Even if you've got the clock ("Title elapsed" / "Title remaining" / "Chapter elapsed" / "Chapter remaining") displayed on the screen?

: . . . and in any FF speed above 2X, the subtitles also disappear.

Ah, well, I'm used to that. I mean, can you even READ subtitles that fast? smile.gif

: A related question - anybody know of a DVD player where you can input a

: specific minutes:seconds timecode and have the player go to that precise

: point? That would be SO useful when showing clips in a lecture or sermon,

: I'm sure some manufacturer must have thought of designing it in?

No kidding! Such a feature would have come in handy a few times now, in my experience. This is one area where videotapes still have the edge over DVDs -- you can cue them up the night before, and you don't have to worry about all that brand-name stuff when you pop 'em in.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Ron wrote:

: Peter, I bought that Cyber Home multi-region machine that Doug

: recommended, and it's worked great for me. Ultra cheap.

Where and how does one acquire said machine?

Check the old site archive for that thread to get the correct model number, and then use google to search for who might have it for sale currently. I can't remember just now what source I got it from: if you've had no success by Wednesday evening, let me know and I'll figure that out. (I'm in Narnia until then.)

: Only feature I don't like is the fast-forward mode: the digital read-out

: displays \"FAST FORWARD\" instead of the minutes:second counter . . .

Even if you've got the clock (\"Title elapsed\" / \"Title remaining\" / \"Chapter elapsed\" / \"Chapter remaining\") displayed on the screen?

I haven't done it with those things displayed onscreen: I bet that would solve it. I'll try, once I'm back from Asland.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: Check the old site archive for that thread to get the correct model

: number, and then use google to search for who might have it for sale

: currently. I can't remember just now what source I got it from . . .

I Googled "cyber home doug cummings" and discovered that he has a Cyber Home 500. Amazon.com sells them for only US$65 right now, BUT on page 4 of the manual to which they link, it says that the player only accepts Region 1 discs.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Eh? Do you mean to say you HAVE one of these players, and that, having checked out and recognized that manual, you can say with confidence that it plays discs from all regions? Or is there some component you have to fiddle with in order to make the player truly multi-region?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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opus wrote:

: It might cost a bit more than you care to spend, but I own a Malata

: multi-region player. The great thing about this player, aside from being

: multi-region, is that it also does PAL to NTSC conversion.

Hmmm. What do you know about the Malata DVP-500P? Future Shop has it for CDN$80 and they don't have any of Malata's pricier players; they also don't have any Cyber Home players AT ALL, unless that brand goes by another name here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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opus wrote:

Hmmm.  What do you know about the Malata DVP-500P?  Future Shop has it for CDN$80 and they don't have any of Malata's pricier players; they also don't have any Cyber Home players AT ALL, unless that brand goes by another name here.

I did some searching around and found some interesting info on the DVP-500P. Apparently, some people are having issues with its multi-region capabilities, depending on which version they bought (although the PAL-NTSC conversion appears to be fine).

http://www.nerd-out.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30624

http://www.nerd-out.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30754

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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The original discussion with Doug about his Cyber Home player is here: http://novogate.com/board/3322/138013-1.html.

I have a friend who bought the player, and he's tried a couple of my region 2 discs with fine success.

I've played region 2 PAL discs in a player that could do any region, but had no PAL<->NTSC converter. The disc played with no sound or color, and I expect the framerate was also wrong. (At one point I found a website that explained exactly how the formats are different and why I got the result I did - but I can't find it right this second.)

I have a Malata DVP-520, which was the most highly recommended player on www.dvdtalk.com in May of 2002 when I bought it for something around $280, including shipping. I now see it here for $152. You might be able to find it cheaper elsewhere.

I like it a lot. It has lots of different adjustments (tons of scaling and panning, different speaker configurations for the 5.1 analog outputs, etc.), optical and coax digital audio out, stereo audio output, composite, s-video, and component video out. Apparently Malata fixed the overheating problems some of their earlier players had; I haven't had a problem.

Downsides:

1. remote is hard to use; "stop", "play", "forward", and "back" are all the same size - tiny. OTOH, I've found that my fingers just have to learn to use each remote anyway, so I get along just fine.

2. no "soft on/off" on the remote. You have to physically push the power switch on the player to turn it on and off. (It's like going back to an AT mobo instead of ATX, for the geeks on this board.)

Though I kinda wish I'd been more patient, and gotten my player for $150 instead of close to $300, I've been very happy with it, and I've never had any problems. I've only ever played Region 1 NTSC and Region 2 PAL discs on it, but they've all worked without a problem.

Aside from the problems with the Cyber Home player that have already been mentioned on this board, my friend has been pleased with his player, too. One advantage the CH player has over the Malata is that AFAIK I can't turn off Macrovision, and my friend can. I went to copy a couple of our movies (Planet of the Apes and Contact) from DVD to VHS so my wife could show them at school (she can't play DVDs in her classroom), and I got Macrovisioned. (The Spinal Tap disc apparently doesn't have Macrovision, BTW. It worked fine but was not appropriate for an Earth Science class.) My friend did a simple trick with his CH player (I think he just had to switch to a different video output one time) and he can copy chunks of his movies onto VHS to show them during his lectures at our film forum.

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moquist wrote:

: One advantage the CH player has over the Malata is that AFAIK I can't

: turn off Macrovision, and my friend can.

Oh, that settles it! I want the Cyber Home! But ... but ... does anyone sell it in Canada?

Then again, the fact that the Malata could be on its way, like, tomorrow while Amazon.com tells Cyber Home buyers to "get in line" could swing me the other way.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Matt alerted me to this thread, but it looks like a lot of questions have already pretty much been answered. The Malata is the player of choice for people who can afford it. But I've had the ultra-cheap Cyber Home 500 and it's been very smooth sailing--not a hitch yet and I use it every day.

I used to have a Malata, but the older models had heating problems, and it literally burned up on me while I was sitting next to it one evening. And like Matt says, their remotes are often clunky, but it's a fine player and offers some really nifty functions like a zoom-out that allows you to adjust the viewing screen according to the (variable) amount of overscan your monitor enforces. (For more about overscan problems, you can read this article from my site, mastersofcinema.org.)

The two things you'll need for any setup, of course, are region selection and PAL-NTSC conversion--but many players (like the Malata and the Cyber Home) combine these functions. I would also consider progressive scan abilities if you think you might eventually upgrade your monitor or if you already have something besides a standard TV.

The Cyber Home is not marketed as a region-free player, it doesn't say so anywhere on the box and salespeople will tell you it's not. The fact is, the hack is done with the remote in about 15 seconds.

I would mention my usual spiel about why all-region players are infinitely better than region-restricted players, but suffice it to say that North American DVD releases (even for many Hollywood films) are limited, and getting an all-region player will only offer you many more consuming and viewing options. A good site to keep an eye on--it regularly compares various region releases of the same films and reviews discs from other regions--is DVDBeaver.com.

I haven't priced a Malata in a while, but as it happens, someone mentioned recently that HKFlix.com is offering $70 off their 520s for people from DVDTalk.com. I think you have to type DVDTALK as a special code somewhere...I'm sure you can write them and ask, but the sale apparently ends Thursday, 12/4.

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Downsides:

1. remote is hard to use; \"stop\", \"play\", \"forward\", and \"back\" are all the same size - tiny.  OTOH, I've found that my fingers just have to learn to use each remote anyway, so I get along just fine.

2. no \"soft on/off\" on the remote.  You have to physically push the power switch on the player to turn it on and off.  (It's like going back to an AT mobo instead of ATX, for the geeks on this board.)

Yes and yes. I'd say those are my two biggest beefs, especially the first one. I don't know how many times I've been watching a movie with all of the lights out and accidentally skipped to the next chapter when I wanted to unpause it.

I didn't know about the Macrovision stuff... dang, that would be cool, though to be honest, I don't know how often I'd use it. But still, it'd be pretty cool to have.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I want the Cyber Home!  But ... but ... does anyone sell it in Canada?

I got mine from a U.S. source (through the internet) and had it shipped to a friend stateside. Don't think I had to pay any duty bringing it back across the border, it's that cheap.

And the way to activate the multi-region feature is described in the thread at the old board.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Well, I don't come into physical contact with my American friends all that often, and the one Cyber Home vendor I found online was telling people to "get in line", so last night, out of a mixture of impatience and expediency, I went to my new neighbourhood Future Shop (seriously, it opened just, like, five days ago) and bought myself a Malata DVP-500 for CDN$80. Hacking it for multi-region playing seemed easy enough (though I admit I have nothing but Region 0 and Region 1 discs anyway at the moment -- must order that Region 2 The Family Way DVD soon!), but I think I may have encountered a new problem.

Watching my Two Towers disc last night, I was grateful to see that the new player didn't go wonky during the Dead Marshes sequence like my old player did ... but I DID notice that the image tended to freeze, for just a split second, every time there was a chapter break. The only other disc I have tried on this new player is the Dinosaur DVD I am currently renting, and oddly enough, whereas the image tends to freeze momentarily just AFTER the chapter breaks on my Two Towers disc, it seems to freeze momentarily just BEFORE the chapter breaks on Dinosaur.

My roommate tells me HE doesn't see these split-second freeze-frames, and there is usually no interruption in the sound (so I guess the picture doesn't just freeze; rather, it freezes on one frame for a split-second and then jumps ahead to whichever frame it is now supposed to be on), so perhaps this is just me being extra nit-picky again. But still ...

Anyone else notice anything like this? Anyone else familiar with this model of DVD player? Anyone else wanna recommend a course of action?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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... but I DID notice that the image tended to freeze, for just a split second, every time there was a chapter break. The only other disc I have tried on this new player is the Dinosaur DVD I am currently renting, and oddly enough, whereas the image tends to freeze momentarily just AFTER the chapter breaks on my Two Towers disc, it seems to freeze momentarily just BEFORE the chapter breaks on Dinosaur.

I've never had a disc or player pause at chapter breaks, at least as far as I've noticed. I've frequently seen players pause the picture and sound while switching between layers on the disc, though. As far as I understand, that's rather common.

But pausing at chapter breaks sounds pretty weird... Would they let you bring a disc into the store to try out their different players? If you get ahold of a region [2-7] disc soon enough, you could maybe even try out the multi-region hack(s) on different players in the store (especially if you don't tell them you're doing it).

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moquist wrote:

: I've never had a disc or player pause at chapter breaks, at least as far

: as I've noticed. I've frequently seen players pause the picture and sound

: while switching between layers on the disc, though.

Yeah, me too. But like I say, there is generally no pause in sound at the chapter breaks on this player (except for one instance on the Two Towers disc when Karl Urban was doing the commentary...), so the chapter-break frame-burps aren't as long as the layer-switch pauses.

: But pausing at chapter breaks sounds pretty weird... Would they let you

: bring a disc into the store to try out their different players?

I don't know ... do you mean different players of the same model, or different models?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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: But pausing at chapter breaks sounds pretty weird... Would they let you

: bring a disc into the store to try out their different players?

I don't know ... do you mean different players of the same model, or different models?

I was thinking of trying out different players, since they probably only have one of each model on display. Hrm. I guess that they probably don't have every display model hooked up to a TV, though... maybe my idea is no good. Maybe stores *should* have every model hooked up to a TV, so customers can actually try things out. (I bet high-end stores would do this for you, but they might not want to sell you the Malata DVP-500 for $80.)

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FWIW, I just watched Disney's Princess of Thieves on the Malata and had no problems with the chapter breaks whatsoever. Mind you, quite a few chapters began with fairly static establishing shots of castles and whatnot ... but in any case, no problems detected.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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