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I recently moved back to Canada after spending the past two years as a postdoctoral fellow at a university in Germany. While there, I accumulated several good German-language DVDs, but in my haste to move, I never thought to bring my German DVD player with me. Of course, these DVDs will not play on my equipment here. I have read that there are region-free DVD players, as well as ones that will convert data read from PAL DVDs in the player and output the necessary format for a NTSC TV, but I am a bit confused. Can one simply walk in to a store and buy such a player, or must you buy a region-specific player and modify it somehow? If such a player can be directly purchased, which is a good one to buy? Thank you.
 

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Probably the easiest (not sure about cheapest) way for you right now is to get a Seiki BD660 BD player from Walmart, $88. It will play all regions/areas of BDs and DVDs, does the format conversion if necessary (many panel displays don't require it). I don't know of a DVD-only player that's conveniently available right now, when they are they're often in the $30 range.

The BD660 actually works quite well, as long as you're not using a projector->very large screen. It's not built particularly well. :) Thing is, no region-free DVD player now available at B&Ms in Canada will be well-built, they will always be secondary brands/quality at best. One brand exception is you could get a used Oppo DVD player. Or you could buy a new Oppo BD player and get a mod to allow it to play other region DVDs...starting at over $300 total (actually, to be worthwhile for DVD compared to the Seiki, you'd better spend for the higher model BDP-83 + mod). If you only have a few non-R1 DVDs, probably not worth spending a lot.

I guess the moral is if you want to buy new, you probably have to look at BD players. The Seiki is the only one easy to get, that's region-free straight out of the box, and just happens to probably be the cheapest.
 

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CFraser,

Thank you so much. I will head to Walmart and try to get one of those today. That player would also have no problem displaying a PAL disc on a NTSC TV, right?
 

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... you could get a used Oppo DVD player.
+1 to a used OPPO DVD player (OPDV971H, DV-970HD, DV-980H, DV-981HD, DV-983H) in good condition.

You could also search VideoHelp.com for format-converting players, see which of those have region-free "hacks" available and then check to see if they're still being sold.

That player would also have no problem displaying a PAL disc on a NTSC TV, right?
There should be an option in the set-up menu that lets you select what video format you want the player to output (regardless of the input format).
 

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That player would also have no problem displaying a PAL disc on a NTSC TV, right?
As eljay said, there is a menu option to select the type of display standard you need. I have used the BD660 with PAL DVDs on an NTSC display, and also with a panel that takes NTSC/PAL directly. There is a thread in this subforum on the BD660, but I don't think you necessarily need to read it now. Not all Walmarts have the BD660, and they may not be shelved with other DVDPs/BDPs so may have to look around (not likely worth asking in-store :)). Somebody rumoured they were available for $50 now, somebody else said $99 at their location, but $88 still seems the norm. You should put your location JIC somebody knows your local availability. Edit: hmmm, 7 left locally a couple weeks ago, only 1 left today...

For DVDs, the Oppo 98x models are pretty good and well-built and not "too" old. Good luck getting one for less than the Seiki though: used Oppos seem to hold their value quite well, as they are some of the few straight-out-of-the-box region-free DVDPs that are also well-built. Should mention Yamaha too, I have one of them that's region-free "in reserve" and it's nicely built...but not a current model. New there's not much.
 

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If you want a good BD/DVD that is region AND zone free, get the Oppo-83 from Singapore. Without any hardware hack (it's actually in the manual), it allows you to change region (for DVD) and zone (for BD).
 

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www.videohelp.com/dvdhacks

Most cheap (ie $30) players can be region adjusted as can most Philips machines. Just input their model number in the above link to see if an unlock code exists for that model.
 

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NCIX has a Sherwood BDP-5004 region free Blu-ray player available. A friend of mine bought one a few weeks ago, when they were on sale, and she can now watch European discs.
 

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If you decide to get the Seiki, you must use the following procedure to make the playher region free

Ensure no disc is in player
Power-up the player from 'standby' to 'on' with the remote
Once the green 'Seiki' wallpaper appears press the 'Setup'
button
Press these numbers sequentially: 8, 5, 2, 0

This brings up a 'Factory' menu where you can change the DVD
region code (use Region 0 for region free) and you can change
the Blu-Ray region too (there's no 'region free' option, so
you'll need to change it per disk)
 

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^^^^
The Sherwood is region free right out of the box and sold as such. The only thing I had to do was change the video output from Automatic HDMI to 720p (to match the TV). Otherwise the TV didn't recognize the signal when playing a PAL DVD. Another set that can already handle PAL, such as my Sharp Aquos, might not even need that change.
 
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