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I remember some time when the DVDs were supposed to be playable only on the DVD players bought in the same geographic zone as the DVD. I never tried because at that time I was not an expatriate.

I still have a collection of DVDs, but I now use a computer to play my DVDs, which I plug to my TV screen.

I am wondering, if I buy a new computer/new DVD player on the continent I am moving to, or buy a DVD on that new continent and play it on my old computer, will that work? In other words, should I give up my collection of DVDs when moving and should I not buy new DVDs?

My "old" continent was Europe, my "new" continent is North America.

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is not an expat question. –  Karlson Mar 25 at 18:49
    
Yes there are still zones in DVDs. –  Karlson Mar 25 at 18:49
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This is answered, for all practical purposes, here. –  Flimzy Mar 25 at 18:55
    
Thanks @Flimzy, perfectly clear answer for me. –  Vince Mar 25 at 18:56
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As I think about this, I think this might be better as a separate question than the TV one... but it needs to be re-worded to be relevant to an Expat, rather than about DVD formats. I would edit the question myself along these lines, but I can't. –  Flimzy Mar 25 at 19:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, there are still region codes ("zones") for DVDs. Common computer operating systems (Windows/OS X) usually allow you to change the region code of the DVD player only a few times over the lifetime of your hardware. The player will generally only play DVDs for which the region code matches that of the player.1

If you have a collection of region 2 DVDs that you currently play on your computer, those will still work after you move to region 1. If you purchase a new DVD in region 1, it won't play on your computer. In general, only region 1 DVDs are available in North America.

If you purchase a DVD player in region 1, it will probably only play region 1 DVDs. It may be possible to find a "region-free" player, usually they're off-brand players that can be modified to ignore the region code on played DVDs.

The region restrictions are, in my experience, most strongly enforced in region 1 (US/Canada). Here in New Zealand, consumers are expressly permitted by law to circumvent the DVD region code system. So most players you can buy here have a way of unlocking the region code functionality so it can play DVDs from any region. The first DVD player I bought here came with instructions to do so; the BluRay player I bought more recently needed some googling to find the magic code.

1. You can probably circumvent this restriction using freely available software.

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@Vince You can probably circumvent this restriction using freely available software. Yes, absolutely. There are a multitude of programs available to do that. This also brings up the option of "ripping" your DVD collection and having video files that are region free and will play on any computer regardless of what country you purchase it in. Of course depending on the size of the collection, this could become tedious. Also, my knowledge on the legality of copying DVDs you own is minimal, so someone please correct me if this is a bad suggestion. –  Dryden Long Mar 25 at 22:25
    
"usually they're off-brand players..." - This is not true. Almost all major DVD player manufacturers offer models that can be made region free (Philips, Panasonic, Sony) –  Bobby Alexander Mar 26 at 6:10

Borrowed from my other answer, and expanded.

Most commercial DVD/BRs are encrypted so that they can only be played on a player from a specific region. There are far more DVD regions than Blu-Ray regions, making this generally a more complicated problem for DVDs than for Blu-Rays, but in your case, the UK and the US are in different regions on both systems, so this could well be an issue for you.

If you bring your DVD/BR player with you from the UK to the US, you will be able to watch your UK media without a problem on your US TV, but you will also need a US DVD/BR player to watch any media you purchase in the US.

You can also buy multi-region or region-free DVD players, although they are more expensive (as they must be licensed for multiple regions).

Most commercial DVD/BR software with which I am familiar (admittedly, not much) is also tied to a specific region--sometimes with the option to change regions a limited number of times (supposedly to allow for an international move). Most open-source DVD players, however, can play DVDs from any region--although probably technically illegally--in the same way that all open source DVD players are "illegal", since they use cracked DVD keys rather than having paid licensing fees.

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Yes, DVD zones still exists, as it is part of the DVD specification. If you buy a DVD reader it will be only be able to play DVD from the same zone as it is set to…

But, if you read the DVD using your computer and play it with a program like Videolan (aka VLC), then you will be able to read a DVD from any zone. And nowaday it's getting easier to find DVD player that can at least change zone as a setting, or even better be able to read just DVD from any zone… I've seen some of those, but I don't know which brand/model, because I don't have a DVD player personally.

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You'll need to make sure that any DVD player you buy is multi-region. These are not necessarily more expensive than others. Here's one for $40: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DVPSR370-Multi-Region-Player/dp/B00F8POV48/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1395854638&sr=8-3&keywords=multi-region+dvd+player

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