Those of you familiar with DVD technology may be aware of the region locking system imposed on consumers by content producers and manufacturers. Sadly, this practice continues with Blu-ray as corporations continue to shoe horn consumers into handy geographic regions. This continues to frustrate consumers who legitimately import authentic discs from other markets. I strongly believe region locking should be outlawed.
This sad and frustrating partitioning forces consumers to locate alternatives when they wish to purchase or play a DVD or Blu-ray disc from out of their “home” region. As a collector of Criterion Collection films, I am in an awkward position as Criterion content is rarely republished in Region 4 (DVD) or BD(B) which are Australia’s regions, respectively.
Criterions are a remarkable compilation of special edition releases on steroids – usually accompanied by an unprecedented array of features as well as digital remastering and remixing to upscaled formats. Criterion Blu-Ray discs are locked to region A (Australia is region B).
To remedy the situation I set off in search of a Blu-ray player which was not region locked (to region B). This proved more challenging than I expected. Although there are a plethora of region-free DVD players in Australia, there are precious few Blu-ray players which are region-free.
There are two basic options available. There are Kogan brand players which claim to be Blu-ray region free and come in at $100. I couldn’t find a local stockist leaving only online purchasing as an option. I generally hate ordering and waiting for things as we end up with all sorts of delivery issues.
An Alternative, in stock
Pursuing further, I located the Laser brand. Their Blu-Ray player is spruiked as guaranteed Blu-ray region free and comes in at $98. Stocked at Harvey Norman, Good Guys and Big W. Yesterday I bought a player at Big W after a waste of time conversation at JB HiFi with two nitwits who claimed no “consumer price point” Blu-ray player could be purchased which was Blu-ray region free.
Once home and unboxed, I tested the region with a Criterion disc. The only catch is that the player needs to be manually set to the appropriate region before the disc is inserted. This is easily accomplished via the supplied remote control. Simply enter ‘8520’ when in the settings window, and the pop up menu allows you to select DVD and Blu-Ray regions.
The player itself looks pretty good, supports HDMI out, H.264 and all the BD audio formats. I’ve yet to give it a thorough test to see how it performs, but being able to at least play Region A Blu-ray titles is a great start!