Are European DVDs Different From American ones?

I ocasionally buy things from, and while I know that European video tapes won’t work in an American VCR(unless somehow converted), I’ve heard varying opinions on whether the same is true for DVDs. Has anyone here bought a European DVD and had it work in a American DVD player? It’s too bad there are DVDs(mostly seasons of American shows and mini-series ironically enough) that can only be bought overseas…

DVDs have a special region code on them. If the code on the DVD doesn’t match the code on the player, it won’t work.

North America is one region, Japan is another, China and the rest of Asia is another, and so on. You can change the region on most DVD players 5 times before it’s permanently set, but after that, you’re out of luck.

DVDs have a “region code” and cannot be played on machines bought outside that region. Some DVDs are universal and do not use region codes, and some early players had the ability to override region codes. But overall, it’s a big mess, another example of the RIAA’s protectionism that allows them to exploit consumers.

The DVD FAQ. Everything you need to know.

The bad guys here are the MPAA, the Motion Picture Association of America. The RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, is only concerned with music.

As stated, there are different region codes for various parts of the world…
there are many DVD players that allow you through hidden menus to over ride this (in most cases, it’s the cheap and nasty ones made in China)

But European discs are also in PAL, unlike NTSC that North America uses… unless you can convert the signal or have a TV that accepts a PAL signal, you won’t be able to view the picture… it’ll either be black & white, jump all over the place or both…

Most European TVs these days will play an NTSC signal, so region 1 (Canada/USA) discs are quite popular with DVD collectors in Europe… but there are very few (if any) NTSC TVs that can play PAL.

If you’re really determined to get some European (Region 2) DVDs, a good way to get around it is get a region free DVD-Rom for you PC… this will require some research however…

AFAIK, DVD-ROMs don’t have any built in regions. Regardless, region protection is a software thing and can be easily overidden with a number of programs that are out there.

This is all fine and good if you want to watch your DVDs on your PC, but if you’re planning to hook up your PC to your TV, you’ll need either a video card with TV out (and a computer fast enough to handle DVD decompression software) or a hardware DVD decoder card (which should all have TV out), though I’ve never personally used this in conjunction with “region free” software.

DVD-ROM drives do have regional coding built into them. You can occasionally get around this by flashing the BIOS, but this is a pretty risky operation (and bye bye warranty) - and it doesn’t work for all drives.
Then you can have to use “improved” versions of DVD software to play Region 2 discs.

wooba, I was under the impression that the PAL/NTSC was a function of the player, not the disc. This would seem to be backed up by the ability to play dvds on my computer, which is certainly neither PAL nor NTSC.

DVDs are digital, while the PAL and NTSC formats are analog. It being the job of the DVD player to decode the digital data into a format that a TV can display, I’d expect that there is actually no PAL/NTSC data on the dvd discs.

I could be wrong.

This is correct. If you have a region-code-free disc, it will play on any player.

Yes, and no.
Indeed, your player must be able to support PAL/NTSC. I have a cheap player by a company called Oritron. It says right on the box NTSC/PAL compatible. They do this so they can make the same player for all countries, instead of having 2 different production lines. With some hidden menus I can make it work with any region disc. It automatically outputs PAL or NTSC, depending on what the DVD is encoded at.
I say encoded because basically a DVD is a data file, similar to an MPG or AVI… The difference between PAL & NTSC discs is the frame rate of the encoding on the disc. IF you have a DVD player that can convert the signal then it doesn’t matter what TV you have. Hardly any players have this ability though… so it cames back to your TV. Can your TV accept a PAL signal? Not very likely, but as I said previously, most newer PAL TVs can accept an NTSC signal because NTSC is inferior to PAL, so the TV can convert it.

A computer monitor has much better resolution than any normal TV, so the software can easily convert it. Infact, DVDs look quite a bit better on my computer than on TV IMO, especially the PAL ones.

I’m by no means an expert, so you might wanna do more indepth research…

As for Frogsteins comment, I have an Australian DVD (PAL) that is region code free. Any player will play it, but the picture is really messed cause it’s in PAL. If you want a truely region free DVD disc, it has to be double sided, one side NTSC, one side PAL.