The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0920  Tuesday, 13 May 2003

From:           Michael E. Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 10:05:49 -0700
Subject: 14.0907 Re: All Region DVD Players
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0907 Re: All Region DVD Players

>I am not certain if this is going to be helpful or merely cloud the
>issue, but here goes.  I live in Japan (which is on the same VHS system
>as the US, but on the same DVD system as Europe).  I have a Japanese
>television, but I have a DVD player bought in the US.  It hooks up
>perfectly to my TV, and the DVDs play without any degradation of the
>picture.  I have in the past also used US-purchased VHS players with
>Japanese TVs.  I have not had trouble with any sort of DVD player-TV
>problem, despite the fact that it seems as if I ought to have had given
>that the DVD player is coded for Region 1, and the TV is coded for
>Region 2.  Neither was a particularly expensive one.

Let's uncloud the issue, then, shall we?

NTSC, PAL, and SECAM are broadcast signal standards, intrinsically
related to the circuitry of the television receiver. For a specific TV
set to play both NTSC and PAL video, for example, that TV has to have 2
different sets of circuitry, one for NTSC broadcast signals and one for

DVD region codes, on the other hand, are the product of a
commercially-developed rudimentary digital rights management system that
has nothing to do with the circuitry of the television receiver.

For those who wish more details, keep reading; others may tune into some
more interesting scholarly discussion on the SHAKSPER list....

Video material recorded on DVD uses MPEG-2 encoding, a compression
format developed and licensed by the Motion Picture Expert Group, the
same folk who gave use the ubiquitous MP3 audio format (which, to
confuse us all, is really short for MPEG-1, Layer-3 audio). It can
reduce a raw video signal (which can consume over a gigabyte of storage
for just five minutes of material) to something compact enough to fit on
an optical storage device like a DVD.

DVD players convert this compressed MPEG-2 digital video information
into an analog output signal that a normal television receiver can
process and display. If a DVD player has the right circuitry, it can
produce an analog output signal in NTSC format (the U.S. flavor of
analog video), or PAL (which is used, for example, in England), or SECAM
(common in France). This digital-to-analog conversion has nothing to do
with DVD region codes.

Region codes are just a way of marking a DVD player or a disk as being
restricted to a specific region of the world. This is done in order to
let the publishers of the DVD confine DVD disk releases to specific
markets and, theoretically, to increase profits. Think of a region code
as a big red flag stamped on a disk by its publisher, which says, Do NOT
Play This DVD Outside of the US (or France, or India, or Argentina).

You can have a Region 1 DVD player capable of producing both PAL and
NTSC analog signals, for example, yet still able to play only Region 1
encoded disks. Similarly, you can have a region-free DVD player that can
play disks intended for any region, yet still be able to produce only an
NTSC signal.

Michael E. Cohen
Digital Media Editor, _Macintosh Bible_, 9th Edition (forthcoming)

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