DVD and Blu-ray Regions
With the amount of DVD and Blu-ray releases coming out, it appears that there is much confusion as to how this stuff works. Here, we’ll give a brief summary of what the codes mean and how they work. In the near future, we may be able to begin to compile a list of software players to play both media.
Everybody knows what a DVD is, the format/disc has been ubiquitous in the home entertainment world since 2003. By the same token, it would be safe to assume that in this day and age that everybody would have a DVD player (be it standalone or in your computer) in the home. There are 6 official and 3 unofficial region codes for DVDs around the world. Regions 1-6 are the official commercial region codes that most people would have encountered, it would also be fair to say (especially with fanmade releases) that you have also encountered the 0 or ALL region code. These can be seen in more detail in the table below.
Releases from South Korea will typically be coded Region 3, whereas releases from Japan will typically be coded Region 2.
DVD players and drives nowadays will have their region encoded in the firmware. So for instance, a DVD player in Australia will only be able to play Region 4 DVDs, and a DVD player in the US will only be able to play Region 1 DVDs. DVD drives in computers allow user to change the coded region on the drive up to 5 times, after which they will be locked to the last region that was set. There exists some software that is able to bypass the region-lock imposed by the DVD drive (at least prior to the updates in how this region coding was enforced on the hardware side). A few manufacturers also produce DVD players that are capable of reading all the regions also bypassing this lock.
Table adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_code
Whilst a Blu-ray disc is the same size as a DVD and CD, it uses different technology to make, and hence read. You will need a dedicated Blu-ray player in order to watch anything that has been released on Blu-ray, on the bright side, these players are 99% of the time backwards compatibly which means that you can also use them to play any DVDs that you already have or might still get. A prominent Blu-ray player out there is probably Sony’s PlayStation 3.
Blu-ray regions are quite a bit simpler. Fortunately for those in the Americas and South East Asia, all Korean and Japanese region-coded releases will be playable at home. For those elsewhere, current trends have seen studios release films region-free however we have yet to find out if SM intends to follow this trend or impose region-locking on the SoShi Blu-ray releases.
Table adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc#Region_codes