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What's DVD / FAQ

What is DVD?
What's So Good About DVD?
DVD vs Video Tape
What is Region Coding?
What is Region Code Enhancement (RCE)?
Film Formats
Anamorphically Enhanced


What is DVD?

DVD stands for "Digital Versatile Disk" and it's name really describes it!
Firstly, it is Digital and brings all the benefits that suggests, the best quality digital picture, far superior to video tape, and digital sound such as Dolby Theatre Surround (dts) soundtrack, first used in "Jurassic Park".
Secondly, it is Versatile - it can be used for films in the DVD-Video format, for music with DVD-Audio, computer games in DVD-ROM format. In fact the DVD is expected to replace both video tape and the CD in these areas.
And lastly, yes it is a disk very similar to a Compact Disk.

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What's So Good About DVD?

Literally everything! DVD's can hold up to 26 TIMES the amount of information that a Compact Disk (CD) can which is why they are now being backed by Hollywood as a replacement for the video tape, and by the music industry to replace the CD's due to unbelievably better sound quality.
DVD's have all the advantages of a CD, such as durability, and almost instant moving from track to track (or "chapters" as they are called in DVD-Videos).
Their large storage capacity means that films can also have "extras" with them, such as,

  • Soundtracks and Subtitles in multiple languages,
  • Cast - Director - Crew profiles,
  • Optional commentary throughout the film by the director/stars,
  • Alternative endings / Deleted scenes
  • "The Making of..." featurettes, Interviews, or Documentaries
  • Music Videos

This list is not exhaustive and not all DVD-Videos have all or any of these extras - see our individual film description "disk features" section for details of the film you want.

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DVD vs Video Tape

For top quality picture and sound here is no contest - DVD wins hands down!

  • Superior digital picture and cinema sound quality.
  • No loss of quality of picture over time as with video tape.
  • DVD does not stretch, rip, tear, or get stuck in the machine as tape does.
  • You can move direct to your favorite part of a film, almost instantly!
  • Clear freeze-frame and searches (also zoom and multi-angle camera angles - with a compatible DVD titles and player)
  • DVD supports full Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Theatre Sound (dts) formats, for that cinema sound experience in your own home (with the right equipment)
  • Some new blockbuster films are being retailed on DVD before video, usually at the same time as the rental video release.

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What is Region Coding?

Region coding was introduced by the big Hollywood film companies for the DVD-Video format, and basically they have divided the world up into 6 country regions (coded 1 to 6) and two specialist 'regions'. Some disks are uncode or Region 0 and play anywhere.

  • Region 0: All areas of the world. (* depending on video standard compatability)
  • Region 1: Canada and U.S.
  • Region 2: Europe, South Africa, Middle East (PAL) & Japan (NTSC).
  • Region 3: East & Southeast Asia, Hong Kong.
  • Region 4: Australia, New Zealand, South America, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, Caribbean.
  • Region 5: Former Soviet Union, Africa, Indian Subcontinent, North Korea, Mongolia.
  • Region 6: China.
  • Region 7: Reserved (Currently Unused).
  • Region 8: Special 'International' venues (e.g. airplanes)

DVD players (including computer DVD-ROM drives) sold in any region are normally set to only play disks with their region code (e.g. a Region 2 player should only play Region 2 DVD-Video disks). However, there are many multi-region players available and most players can be altered, usually by adding a 'chip' or a few through their remote controls (eg. Samsung).

Check out the dvd.reviewer.co.uk website for a list of player "hacks" for your player (Region 1 or 2).

Some titles have two or more region codings and can be played on players from a number of regions - our disk descriptions give details of the discs region codes.

The coding only applies to major films and the reason behind it is simple - to match the staggered release dates for each film around the world.
Many disks, such as, concerts, educational, older films, documentaries, and adult films are not region coded.

Video Formats:
Besides the region code, discs are in different video formats mainly PAL (Europe) or NTSC (USA), however most Players are built for several world markets are are usually able to handle and convert different formats for TV output, BUT this is something to be checked in your players manual - before purchasing a disc with a different format than your TV.

ALL OUR DISKS ARE REGION 2 ENCODED & IN PAL FORMAT, UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED.

It is illegal for us to sell non-UK films, because they have not been certified by the British Board of Film Censorship (BBFC), although Region 1 imports (from the USA) were popular due to an earlier release dates and as many did have superior 'extras', because less disk was used for multiple languages/subtitles, however things have improved on Region 2 disks so that their is often little difference from the Region 1 release.

Note: Imported films are unlikely to be in the PAL video format and are subject to VAT (20%) and a Post Office VAT collection charge (3.85 at time of writing), on entry to the UK if the total order value exceeds 18.00.


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What is Region Code Enhancement (RCE)?

Region Code Enhancement (RCE) is an attempt (one of several) by the manufacturers of DVDs (so far - Warner Bros, New Line, Columbia and a few MGM titles) to stop importing of other region DVDs by preventing a disc being played on multi-Region DVD players. The code checks to see if a player will play more than one region (i.e. multi region capable) and if it is - it will not play, however like most of the other attempts, it normally fails to work with most 'manual' region-switching players and also with many auto-switching 'chip' modified players, HOWEVER, this is something you should check for your player if you intend to buy a RCE title.

Website DVDTalk.com gives a list of known RCE titles and Player hacks to overcome RCE.


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Film Formats

Because the cinema screen dimensions do not match our TV screen sizes, DVD-Video disks come in a variety of screen formats:

  • Pan & Scan (ratio: 4:3): this is the format for a normal TV screen size that we are used to. Due to the difference in the full cinema screen and a TV screen the camera is 'panned' and 'scanned' to get the best part in shot.
  • Letterbox: this is the full cinema format for a normal TV screen, but it results in the familiar black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.
  • Widescreen (ratio: 1.85:1): this is the 'normal' cinema screen ratio best viewed on a widescreen TV. which has a ratio of 16:9 or about 1.78:1
  • Widescreen (ratio: 2.35:1 or 2.40:1) ultra wide cinema format that is 'letterboxed' even on a widescreen TV.

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Anamorphically Enhanced

You will also see in our Online Shop DVD film descriptions, references to Anamorphically Enhanced film formats. Without getting too technical, this means that the film has been encoded on to the DVD disk to get the best possible 16:9 ratio picture on a Widescreen TV. and reduce the letterbox effect (black bars) of 1.85:1 and 1.25:1 ratio Widescreen presentations. This helps improve the resolution on a full 16:9 widescreen TV. playback because the data on the disk does not have to be converted by the player from 1.85:1 into 1.78:1 (i.e. 16:9) ratio. This can result in the squashed, tall and thin look if viewed on a normal TV. (4:3 ratio), but this is corrected if the DVD player is set to 4:3 ratio or 'letterbox' playback in its Options screen, so don't worry if you don't have Widescreen TV....yet.

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