This one was a Region 1, as are most of the ones we in North America tend to come across. The Dell MediaDirect player prompted me to change the regional setting on the player. Naturally, you're limited to five resettings, after which you're SOL and stuck on the final regional setting. So I resolved to work around this, especially since the DVD region system is tyranny, and serves no useful purpose whatsoever.
(You may be able to extrapolate SOME of this information for your own purposes, if you don't own a machine quite like mine.)
1. First, you need to find out the make and model of your DVD drive. In Windows XP, you normally go to My Computer, right-click on the drive, hit properties, and check the hardware tab. You should see your make and model listed there. (For more details, you can select it and hit the properties button, and there will be a Regions tab (or something like that) where you can see the number of changes remaining.)
2. Now you need to search for it - in my case, using search terms like "region unlock SONY DVD+-RW DW-Q58A".
3. Then I got lucky and found a result from the forums at The Firmware Page, and did a "find in page" search (Ctrl+F) for DW-Q58A, actually found it (!!), and that the drive was manufactured by LiteOn, and someone made a utility to disable the region counter on LiteOn drives! Wow!
4. So I download and use said utility - it does require that a DVD movie be in your drive - and hit "Query..." (for curiosity's sake) and then "Disable." That's all! Now my DVD drive itself is region free.
5. Unfortunately, we're not out of the woods yet. We have to disable the software side of the region system. For instance, putting that Region 1 DVD on with MediaDirect just made the region select option come up again.
Your specific options depend on which operating system and playback software you use, but what worked for me (Win XP Pro SP2 in conjunction with Dell MediaDirect) was DVD Region Killer, which runs in the system tray. (I suppose it's the DVD equivalent of Game Genie or Pro Action Replay! =) j/k
DVD Region Killer was a snap. It was a matter of installing, rebooting, and right-clicking on its red globe icon on the system tray and clicking "Enable DVD Region Killer." I slipped that Region 1 DVD back in, and it played perfectly. I'm playing regionalized DVDs now, even though my DVD drive still hasn't been set for a region. And that's the way it should be.
So, to summarize:
- For notebooks with Sony DVD+-RW DW-Q58A drives (or anyone with a LiteOn drive), all you need to do is download and run LtnRPC as described, then obtain a software workaround for your software DVD player, such as DVD Region Killer.
- As far as Dell MediaDirect is concerned, I am solely referring to its use within Windows. I would like to test its supra-Windows functionality, but I think MediaDirect relies on specific parition and boot settings that I bulldozed back when I was trying to use use Ubuntu (a popular Linux distribution). So my MediaDirect power button now simply shows the MediaDirect splash logo before loading Windows normally. Anyway, I assume it would not be able to play regonalized discs, as my software workaround runs from the Windows system tray. I'm not really disappointed, either, because my Windows boots in 45 seconds anyway.
- In any case, try to avoid the temptation to pay for a DVD solution; there's usually a free workaround, and yours may be as easy as mine.