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Multi-zone or Region Free Information Multi-zone or Region Free Information
What is Multi-zone or Region Free?

Region 4 DVD Logo When the standard for DVD movies was being created a cartel of business decided that they would carve up the world into a number of regions, so that, a DVD movie released in one region in the world would not work in another region. For example, if you purchased a DVD movie in the US, it would not playback in a DVD player purchased in Australia.


Limiting DVDs in this way has lead to the terms Multi-zone or Region Free. Both terms essentially mean the same thing and they are often interchanged for one another. A DVD player that can playback DVD movies from different regions around the world means the DVD player is Multi-zone or Region Free.

Multi-zone or Region Free Home Theatre PCs

When you purchase a DVD player in the shops it is often assumed that the DVD player you are buying is also Multi-zone or Region Free, so that, you can play DVD movies from any where in the world and they will still work on the DVD player you purchased.

With the help of the Internet, purchasing a DVD movie from overseas is usually cheaper and often means you can have that DVD movie long before it makes it to Australia, so there is plenty of incentive to ensure the DVD player you are purchasing is Multi-zone or Region Free. However, that incentive may be short lived with the introduction of Region Code Enhancement (RCE). RCE is another layer of protection, which prevents a DVD disc with a region code from playing in a Multi-zone or Region Free DVD player, effectively, rendering a Multi-zone or Region Free DVD player obsolete!

As far as your Home Theatre PC goes, all is not lost. Even though no manufacturers supply a true Multi-zone or Region Free Home Theatre PC, converting a Home Theatre PC to be truly Multi-zone or Region Free (and by-passing RCE) is quite simple.

How do I Multi-zone or Region Free my Home Theatre PC?

There is a number of ways to convert the DVD drive inside your Home Theatre PC to be Region Free. These methods include :-

  1. Firmware patch or upgrade for your DVD drive
  2. A Tool to switch off region checks for your DVD drive
  3. Software that runs on your system that by-passes the region checks in real time
As Windows XP Media Centre Edition 2005 checks for valid region information on the DVD drive in order to playback a DVD movie (similar to RCE), Methods 1 and 2 are effectively obsolete and will not work with Windows XP Media Centre Edition 2005. We expect Windows Vista to be the same when it is available.

This leaves us with Method 3, that is, use a software program that removes the protection in real time. There are a number of programs, that are available, that attempt to make your Home Theatre PC truly Multi-zone or Region Free, so that you can playback DVD movies from any where in the world, however, the only program that we have found to work correctly with Windows XP Media Centre Edition 2005 is AnyDVD version 6.0.9.7 or higher :-

About AnyDVD Window

The advantages of such a program is that it is being constantly updated and any new protection that may appear on a DVD disc in the near future will also be removed by an updated version of the software. Such as, RCE and so on. AnyDVD effectively removes RCE, as below :-

Status window

We recommend AnyDVD, because out of all the great features that it includes, it has a feature that slows down your DVD drive to make it more quiet, which really works extremely well and is in keeping with the Home Theatre PC concept. DVD drives are typically a great source of noise in a Home Theatre PC.

How do I use AnyDVD to Region Free my Home Theatre PC?

After you install AnyDVD there is very little to do as the default settings are spot on, as below :-

Video DVD Settings Window

You will need to reboot once after installation, then AnyDVD will automatically startup with Windows.

Sit back, relax, grab your Media Centre Remote Control or Remote Keyboard, load that DVD movie you purchased from overseas and hit the play button...

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