A DVD that can be played in ANY DVD player is known as a "Region 0", "Multi Region" or "Region Free" DVD. Players that can play a DVD from any country are also known as "Region Free" or "Region 0."
It doesn't matter if the DVD you bought in America plays on your Panasonic 345 in the USA, it won't play on your cousin's European Panasonic 345 because it has a different region encoding. Video games are frequently region encoded as well, which is why Wii and Playstation owners in the USA have to hack their game consoles to play games that are only available in Japan. You need a "region 1" game to play it in a US game console.
Some DVD players can be hacked, either with hardware or software, to make them Region 0 players. For example, I have a boot DVD for my Playstaion 2 that will let me select which region it will be until I reboot it. This way I can, for example play Region 2 DVDs.
This brings me to a Yahoo Question asked by James R:
Is windows Media Player Multi Regional?I was wondering if Windows Media player can play DVD's from different regions. As im wanting to buy some Region 1 DVD's but the 2 DVD players we have in the house are not multi regional.
Mchiang's "Best Answer" chosen by the asker, however, is a pile of uniformed nonsense, perhaps deliberate misinformation.
yes. i can play dvd from europe, us, and asia. it depends on the codec installed in your computer.
if you cant play your dvd in your media player, all you need to do is to find the appropriate codec for that region
James R has a few options. First, he can do some research on how to make his existing DVD players "Multi Region" or "Region Free." Many DVD players have an easter egg built into them where a key combination entered on the remote control will unlock them, permenantely or temporarily. Some DVD players, such as those in computers, will let you change their region up to four times before permenantly locking to whatever region was selected last. He could buy a second DVD Drive, set it to the desired region and just remember to insert the DVD into the correct drive to play it.
James R could also see if there's a firmware update for his computer's DVD Drive or even his stand alone players that will make them region free. This is a bit riskier as the hacked firmwares could "brick" the player.
Finally, he could just buy a Region Free DVD player. He'll need to buy one online and probably order form Japan or Germany, but models that can play any region DVD, MPEG , AVI and other formats can be had very inexpensively.
Mchiang's nonsense about installing a Codec equates region encoding with different file formats, a misinformed and costly mistake. There's no magical Codec that will let a Region 2 player play a Region 1 DVD. A Codec is merely a set of information about a particular file format. iT'S not a firmware upgrade or hack program to modify a DVD player's region encoding. Mchiang either doesn't know what he's talking about, or he doesn't know what words to use to describe the issue.