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Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics Show Value of International DVD Players

The 2012 Summer Olympics, and a dearth of new TV on DVD releases, prompted thoughts on the numerous virtues of multi-region DVDs players. Buying one a few years ago is one of my best ever investments.

My most recent purchase of a DVD series from across the pond is the first series, my people call them seasons, of the Britcom "Twenty Twelve" about the challenges of organizing said 2012 Summer Olympics. This one stars "Downton Abbey's" Hugh Bonneville as the UK's answer to Mitt Romney sans enchanted undergarments.

Readers who followed me from my stints at other sites know that I believe that British programs kick the arse of what America offers. This is largely due to each British series, my people call them seasons, having six episodes compare to 20-22 episodes of most American offerings.

A genuinely multi-region DVD player allows watching Region 1 DVDs from the US and Region 2 DVDs from the United Kingdom, as well as DVDS from any other place in the world, in the comfort of your own living room.

I more than made up the $70 for my Pioneer DV-120K with my first purchase from Amazon.Co.UK.

I am a HUGE fan of the modern Doctor Who series but balked at paying the $45 or more per series. I paid roughly $60 US, including shipping, for a truly great Region 2 box set of the first four series of this era of "Doctor Who." That order included a $45 set of the first three series of the "Who" companion series "Torchwood."

I subsequently have bought numerous other TV on DVD sets of British shows for at least one-half, again including shipping, of what they cost in the US. A recent example is buying series two of "Sherlock" for roughly $8 US. This set of three episodes costs around $20 in the US.

I additionally have bought many UK series that I do not believe have been shown in the US and have not been released on DVD here. One of the best examples is a hilarious hour-long dramedy "Monday Monday" about the administrative staff of a grocery store chain that relocate to a new area. This workplace comedy has the same stereotypes as the US version of "The Office" but is a much better and quirkier show.

Another of the many great UK programs that  have not aired in the US is "FM." This one, which is similar to "WKRP in Cincinnati" and the lesser-known Carl Reiner  '60s sitcom "Good Morning World," depicts the world of a group of "wild and crazy" British DJs. 

"FM" stars "IT Crowd's" highly talented and wonderfully odd Chris O'Dowd. The program also introduced me to the adorable and hilarious British comedian Kevin Bishop.

Other examples of great shows to which I have been exposed are the Jennifer "Absolutely Fabulous" Saunders and Dawn "Vicar of Dibley" French small-town sitcom "Wild West," and the "It's Garry Shandling's Show" clone "Sean's Show."

The virtues of being able to watch  Region 2 DVDs extends beyond being good access to great British shows. Some DVD sets of US shows are less expensive there, and I have discovered great bargains on DVD releases of US shows that have never come out here.

My finds have included well-priced Region 2 sets of the '90s sitcoms "Caroline in the City" and "Cybill."  It seems that only the first two seasons of "Caroline" were released in the US and only a 13-episode "best of" set of "Cybill" was released.

The rest of this post is intended for readers who I convinced to buy a multi-region DVD player. This portion will discuss the homework that I did in avoiding pitfalls experienced by others who made the same purchase.

I read numerous reports of folks who experienced frustration regarding programming their multi-region DVD players to play the desired discs and separately finding an adapter for that player.

I cannot stress enough that I bought my Pioneer DV-120K a few years ago and cannot comment regarding whether anything has changed in the interim. My player immediately played my Region 1 and Region 2 discs (I have not tried DVDs from any other region.) just fine. 

My player also included an adapter that perfectly fit in my outlet. The only minor annoyance regarding that is that the player's plug falls out of the adapter somewhat easily if the cord is jostled. That  has only happened a few times and not for several months.

The other problem about which I read online was that manufacturers would not honor any warranty for multi-region DVD players. I understand that that was because DVD players became multi-region by having resellers open them up and make adjustments to allow that benefit.

I bought my Pioneer player from because they offer a warranty, have a customer-service line, and have a brick-and-mortar location. My DVD player has never required service, so I cannot remark on the quality of any necessary repair. 

Every dealing that I have had with suggests that they would honor the warranty and do a good job.

I am eager to hear from anyone else with a multi-region DVD player or who buys one after reading this posting. Please also feel free to email any questions or concerns regarding this.


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