Unlocking your DVD Unit
By Gabriel Torres on February 15, 2005
A great deal of the DVD players on the market have the notorious area protection, including DVD-ROM units and DVD recorders. This protection prevents a DVD recorded for an area to be played in a DVD player that is bound to another area. There are six possible areas: 1, USA and Canada; 2, Europe, Japan and South Africa; 3, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo and Indonesia; 4, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America; 5, India, Africa, Russia and the nations of the former Soviet Union; and 6, China.
Thus, a disk made for area 1 doesn't play in DVD players configured to play only area 4 disks. There are also disks and players programmed as area "0", which permits their reproduction in any DVD player or of type of disk.
In case of DVD-ROM units and DVD recorders, they are sold without a factory-programmed area. When you use them for the first time, the area programming is done based on the disk you inserted (for instance, if you inserted an area 4 disk, the unit will be programmed as area 4). It is possible to change the unit area four to six times, depending on the model. That is precisely the problem: after you alter the area of your unit some times, it will be “forever” blocked in the last programmed area.
To reprogram the area of your unit, you should use the utility that accompanies it. In case your unit does not have a utility of this type, you can use Toshiba Region Select Utility (http://resource.toshiba-europe.com/europe/diskproducts/software/dvd/Rpc2util.zip), that works with units from any manufacturer.
To be able to reproduce DVDs from any area without any type of blocking in your computer, you will need:
1. To unblock your DVD-ROM unit or DVD recorder;
2. To unblock your DVD reproduction program (WinDVD, PowerDVD, etc);
3. To unblock Windows.
To unblock your unit, first check whether or not it has area blocking. That can be checked with the program DVDInfoPro (http://www.dvdinfopro.com/). Run this program and see what it shows in "Region Control." If it shows "RPC2" that means your unit has area blocking. If it shows “RPC1” that means your unit is already unblocked. In the "User changes left" field of this program, you see how many area alterations you can still do.
Figure 1: Blocked LG GSA-4160B DVD recorder.
The process of unblocking the unit consists in updating your firmware with a version that is not blocked, a process similar to the compute BIOS upgrading. To do that, you need to download an unblocked version of the your DVD unit firmware from the Internet. Obviously you need to know the brand and the model of your unit. At http://www.firmware.fr.st/ you will find the firmware of practically all DVD units and recorders on the market. All you have to do is download a version identified as "RPC1" (in other words, unblocked) and run the program that you download.
After doing the firmware upgrade, you will have to restart your computer. Check if the upgrade was successfully done running DVDInfoPro again and seeing if the area control code has changed from "RPC2" to "RPC1." Compare Figure 1 to Figure 2. Check the "Region Code" field: it is now "All".
Figure 2: Same DVD recorder, now unlocked.
After having unblocked your DVD unit or recorder as explained on last page, you need to unblock the program that you use to watch DVDs – WinDVD, PowerDVD, CoolDVD, etc.
When you run a DVD that has an area code, the program will be configured with the same area as the disk. For instance, if you run an area 4 disk the player will be automatically configured as area 4. The same happens to the DVD unit; only 4 to 6 area alterations are permitted, depending on the program. Usually the program shows a confirmation screen informing for which area it is being configured and how many area alterations are still possible. When you “zero” the amount of possible alterations, the program gets locked in the last configured area, only allowing disks from that area to be run.
Figure 3: DVD player are configuration.
The solution for this blocking is very simple. All you have to do is use the program DVDGenie (http://www.inmatrix.com/files/dvdgenie_download.shtml) to configure the player area. This program can alter the area of practically all DVD program on the market without any changes to the number of area alterations left. All you have to do is install and run this program before playing a DVD from a different area than last one played. The use of the program is very simple: just select the program (WinDVD, PowerDVD, etc), select the intended area and click in Apply.
Figure 4: Changing the DVD player area via DVDGenie.
Windows also has its own area code, that is used by some programs. This protection has to be broken, too. Luckily, DVDGenie can also break this Windows lock: just go to the Windows tab of the program. If you have Windows 98 or ME, configure the area you want or “zero” the area configuration. In case of Windows 2000 and XP, if the area protection is activated, you can break it by clicking in the XP/2K set Region to 0 box.
Figure 5: Breaking the Windows protection using DVDGenie.
That's it. Now you should be able to play DVD discs from any country in the world in your DVD unit.