Saturday, January 19, 2013

DVD Regions

Watching DVDs is a great way to practice a foreign language.  For this, DVDs over here are better than the DVDs back home.  For example, an American DVD will be in English.  It may or may not offer the movie dubbed in to Spanish.  It will probably have subtitles available in Spanish and maybe in French.  Whereas I recently purchased a DVD over here and the movie was in English but had dubbing available in Czech, Slovak, and German.  The subtitles available are in Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, French, German, Spanish and Italian.  You can always find discount DVDs here for only 50 Kč ($2.50). 

All DVDs are region coded so that you can't just play them everywhere.  Movie studios like to use region coding to control movie releases.  What may be a summer blockbuster in the USA may not get released in Europe until December.  In this case, the studios don't want anyone to be able to simply watch a foreign DVD when the film hasn't been released locally yet.  The world is broken down in to six regions.

Region 1 is the USA, Canada, Bermuda, and U.S. territories.
Region 2 is for Europe (except Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine), Egypt, Middle East, Japan, South Africa, Greenland, and French territories.
Region 3 is Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Region 4 is Brazil, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Australia, and  New Zealand.
Region 5 is India, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, North Korea, Central Asia, South Asia, Pakistan and most of Africa.
Region 6 is China.

DVDs may be set up for multi-region play.  For example, the Baltics use both region 2 and region 5 formats.  Some DVDs are set up for every region.  You have to carefully look at the DVD label to see which region it's for.

The reason that the DVD region matters is because DVD players are configured to only work for specific regions.  I would send my nephew some Krteček DVDs but the problem is that they won't work in my sister's DVD player.

Lots of people only watch DVDs on their laptops.  Many laptop DVD drives will only let you switch between regions for a fixed number of times, usually five times, and then they become permanently locked.  Luckily my Czech laptop has a multi-region player so I can watch my European DVDs as well as the few hundred American DVDs I brought with me when I moved here.  While I was back in Arizona last year, I managed to find a little portable multi-region travel DVD player for only $50 (€40).  It too can play all of my DVDs.  I just have to use a European adapter so that I can plug it in to the wall over here.

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