Conclusion & Resources

By: Mikio Moriyasu - Revised: 2006-07-18 devin


A conclusion including a summary of the available options and the solution we chose.

Available Options

If you have an RPC-1 DVD drive, you can use any one of the available utilities to reset the region setting and zap the XPRAM to make your drive as "Region Free" as possible.

If you have an RPC-2 drive, unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of safe options other than trying to buy a third party DVD drive that is RPC-1 or to buy a stand alone Region Free specialty DVD player. If you feel knowledgeable enough you can use a Firmware update to either reset the “Vendor Resets” or change the configuration of your drive altogether.

As is the case with most third-party utilities designed to override or circumvent factory settings, however, the user should carefully research all utilities before selecting one. The user should be also be certain that the need to have Region Free DVD playback capabilities is with the potential costs should it not work.

MMC's Chosen Solution & Why

All of the DVD-ROM drives in MMC G3 and G4 machines are RPC-2 and cannot be made region free using a software based solution alone. Even though most of the DVD-ROM drives in our machines are out of warrantee and our test of a firmware update was generally successful, because we do not want to risk irreparably damaging what are still functioning drives, we will not be flashing all of them.

While updating the drives and distributing the necessary region switching software would not be difficult, this form of "Region Free" DVD playback would still not be a permanent or efficient solution to the problem. If the DVD-ROM drives were kept as RPC-2 drives, the sheer volume of users would rapidly consume the limited number of available region switches and “Vendor Resets”. We would be right back where we started in a relatively short period of time.

If the drives were reconfigured as RPC-1, each new user would have to be shown in advance by either the class instructor or by MMC staff how to use the utilities to switch regions and reset the number or remaining sets of region switches before playing any DVD. In addition, as most of these utilities require that users enter manually the region setting for the DVD they are viewing, faculty, staff, and patrons would need to be shown how to find out this key piece of information.

Because of the potential confusion for patrons, and the added responsibilities on MMC staff that "Region Free" DVD drives present , MMC will be purchasing a single “Region Free” specialty DVD player after all. To augment this single player, the Blue and White G3 machines in the two largest multimedia classrooms (ML 1715 and 1725) will be made "Region Free". The use of these machines, however, will be strictly limited to instructor use only.

We are also keeping the option of using am RPC-1 firmware patch as solution in the event that lab patrons, unaware of DVD Region encoding, play foreign DVD's in the machines, maximize the number of switches, and lock the drive on a setting other than Region 1.