Works perfectly as region free player, so far no issues
Reviewed in the United States on 17 February 2018
I had been shopping around for a region-free bluray/dvd player and I’d like to provide you the information I have gathered to help you with your decision.
First: There are laws that prohibit the sale of region free bluray players from manufacturers or by retailers in the US. That is why you don’t see region free bluray players in brick stores like Bestbuy, WalMart, Target, etc.
Second: Due to the first point, manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, etc. do not manufacture or market region free bluray players in the US. I’d like to emphasize this because I see a lot of comments and complaints from customers who purchased such players and when they contacted Sony, Samsung about their region free bluray player, they were disappointed because [insert bluray company] customer service said thay did not have region free bluray player in their line of products therefore could not provide service.
If you pay attention, you will see all region free bluray players are sold by third-party sellers. There is nothing wrong with that. I have already purchased and tested two region free bluray players sold by such third-party seller on Amazon and both players met my expectations and did play discs from different regions of the world. However, you should not contact [insert bluray company] for any questions regarding region free functionality of your region free bluray player. Because they did not produce such a product. It was the third party seller (a company with technical skills and expertise) that purchased the player from [insert bluray company], changed the factory settings, unlocked the bluray player and turned it into the region free bluray player.
Region free bluray player is simply an existing model of a bluray player (such as the one on this page) with all the functionalities of that model, but in addition to that, it is region free and plus converts PAL to NTSC (and the 110 - 220 voltage conversion is added if you wish to use it in another country that uses 220 voltage). Because of that, if you contact the third party seller for any of the features of the product, they will most likely refer you to the product page on the offical [insert bluray company]’s website. You should only contact them only if your question is pertaining to the region free functionality.
My biggest complain is that third party sellers often double the price of that bluray player model. I checked many region free bluray models on the internet and found out that almost every bluray player is actually half the price when they are not region free. Basically, the third party seller charges the price of the bluray player to unlock it, thereby doubling its price. If a bluray player in its plain version is $75-80, the region free version will be $150 - $160. This is all because of the current regulations that prevent bluray companies from manufacturing their own region free models. I am not sure if that’s the case in other parts of the world.
This Sony model works well as expected. So far I have used Region B Bluray discs imported from UK (The Avengers Series 4 Bluray) and it played it perfectly with no issues. Here’s what you need to pay attention to:
1) Make sure Quick Start Mode is off!! This is a setting on the player, very easy to see and confirm. Sony models show that when you turn on the player for the very first time and going through initial setup proceess. LG model I have tested (LG BP350), it’s in the settings. Both models have Quick Start Mode off by default so you probably won’t have to do anything.
2) Make sure your player is OFF before you press the button to change the region code. You don’t have to change the region for DVDs It is set to region free for DVDs. You only need to change it for Bluray discs. Turn off the player. For Sony models, press Yellow for Region A, Blue for Region B, Red for Region C. For LG models, press 1 for Region A, press 2 for Region B and press 3 for region C. When you do that, the player will turn ON. And it will be ready to play the disc. By habit, I turned the player on and pressed the region codes and it didn’t work. It is important that the unit must be off before you take that action.
This model has wi-fi buit in and I was able to connect successfully with no issue. The third paty seller states that updating the firmware will not cause issues with the region free capability; they say they guarantee that their player won't lose region free capability but I would not want to test that theory unless my player starts having issues as I don’t want to risk losing region free capability (with so many firmware updates and codes, you never know what will happen).
The only problem I had was when I played a region B Bluray disc that had 5.1 DTS audio track, and the audio kept cutting out for a second every 2-3 minutes. I had the HDMI out from the player to LG OLED TV and I was using the audio optical out from the TV to the receiver. For whatever reason, the sound kept cutting out for a second and came back on. I could see the signal going out on the front panel of my receiver. I am not sure if this issue has anything to do with the disc being region B (maybe the TV didn’t fully recognize the audio signal although I thought regions codes are only for picture signals and did not impact audio signals) I Googled it and saw recommendations about changing the audio settings on the player and turning them off (it also recommended changing the digital audio otput to PCM but that would defeat the purpose of enjoying the 5.1 DTS audio format). I have not had this issue with The Avengers Bluray disc whih only has 2.0 PMC audio track. So either the 5.1 DTS audio signal did not pass to the TV or TV did not pass it to the receiver consistently which caused the audio dropouts. But this player also had digital audio coaxial output. I think I will try that to see if it resolves the issue. The audio quality probably won’t be the same as HDMI signal but still better than constant cutouts.
ONE AMAZING FEATURE NOT MENTIONED ANYWHERE ELSE: I noticed that under the Options menu, there is "Closed Captions" settings. This is a fantastic new feature that I have not seen on a Blu-ray player before. I have been trying for years for a way to turn on Closed Captions on DVDs that don't have subtitles. Not matter what I have tried, I have not been able to succeed. Recently, I read that Closed Captions signals work only on analog signals therefore I I needed to try analog cables. I tried analog cables, switched the picture settings on my Blu-ray player to analog output, also changed the settings on my TV to analog and I was not able to get a signal or turn on the Closed Captions (TV has closed caption feature but it mainly works with cable TV signal -when comes through tuner-, it has been impossible to turn them on while playing DVD without the TV tuner/cable network). All these years, I have been playing those DVDs on my laptop using Windows Player (you can turn on the closed captions on Windows Player) and using an HDMI cable from the laptop to the TV. This was the only solution I could find. Cut a long story short, this Blu-ray player enables the user to turn on the closed captions on DVD!!! My most sincere thanks and congratulations to whoever thought of adding this feature to the blu-ray player (nothing to do with 4K picture quality but such a useful and wonderful feature that had been missing from players until now).
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