Region Free DVD?

When I came over to the US, I had a bunch of stuff shipped, including my (small and predictable) DVD collection and my Panasonic DVD recorder. This had been unlocked to be region-free, so I could play legally imported titles, such as Battle Beyond The Stars, with the terrible yet strangely compelling Sybil Danning.

After it arrived in San Diego, I unpacked it and connected it up to my TV – a bulbous CRT beast which came with the apartment, which functions adequately for for now. Sadly all I could get was the sound, no pictures. The screen displayed a uniform grey, rather than snow or a distorted picture.

It was suggested that the TV connection was the problem. Perhaps the UK version of the recorder wouldn’t work with a US TV. I wasn’t about to go out and buy a new TV, considering I may be moving in with Cassie soon – she has a big flat TV already.

This was frustrating. I wanted to watch my UK DVDs, and also any US ones I pick up or rent. So while up in San Francisco, I bought an Insignia NS-DVD1-A DVD player from Best Buy (the US equivalent of Currys – alarm bells!) for $30 – the cheapest they had. The guy in the store, who happened to be a Brit, said that it would either already be unlocked, due to the small manufacturer not being so much in thrall to the big studios, or would easily be unlocked by finding a code online. It is a dreadful little box, but all I needed is for it to work for a while until I figure out an alternative.

When I got it home and set it up, I plucked a UK DVD at random from my shelf – The Armando Iannucci Shows. This played fine – things looked good! Then I had a nasty thought, and checked the back of the DVD case – it was Region Zero, non-restricted. I tried a second DVD – A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, Series 1 (noticing a trend?). This was marked as Region 2, and the player displayed the message “Wrong Region” on the screen. It couldn’t display it on its own display because it doesn’t have one, being that cheap(o).

Onto Google for an unlock hack. The previous version of the player, the Insignia NS-DVD1, seemed to be unlockable with no trouble, according to a forum post. But it would seem that the NS-DVD1-A has had this terrible weakness fixed. Insignia say its illegal to unlock a player. Cowards. How come the NS-DVD1 was unlockable then?

Serves me right for buying a product named after a rank-smelling plastic-bottled 80’s men’s grooming range with a jingle based on It’s All Over Now by The Valentinos. Check out that clip, by the way. A woman actually lets her hair down in a seductive way, and a computer blows a kiss. And is that Feargal Sharkey? No, it’s not.

Anyway, as it stands I can watch my new US DVDs, but not my library of UK stuff, which is important to me. Maybe I’ll take this machine back. Best Buy best give me my money back. What a pain in my ass.