While many people have long known about the manufacturing practice of "region coding" (as well as the challenges that come along with foreign disc playback), there are still a majority of people who know little to nothing about it, or who are simply new to the whole idea. Upon performing a bit of research about region codes, they'll most likely stumble across some websites providing codes and software hacks for Blu-ray and DVD players which claim to give an ordinary player the ability to play discs from other regions (foreign-coded discs). While this is somewhat true, and while a good majority of those hacks will in fact work to some extent, they're still simply not much more than that; "hacks".
Although it's a common misconception that there's little difference between an "overpriced" region-free player and the "hacks" that can be entered to allow region-free disc playback, this actually couldn't be further from the truth. To clarify this confusion, we've provided some pros and cons, as well as some explanation of the differences between a true region-free player and region code software hacks.
Region-Free, or No too Region-Free
One of the biggest reasons that region-free players are preferred over software hacks is the fact that a real region-free player has been professionally modified. The internal hardware of the player has been altered to change how the system itself actually reads and interprets the discs. There is no forcing or tricking the player, and no "new codes" involved. The player has been modified and will continue to remain modified.
In many instances, the software hacks or "codes" that can be entered will work. However, there's just as many instances where they'll fail. The codes are often inconsistent, ever-changing and can vary from region to region or sometimes even from disc to disc, depending. It can be a major hassle, not to mention the time you'll spend scouring the internet for the newest codes and then trying to implement them. But aside from avoiding the endless annoyance of the software hacks and codes, there's still many more legitimate reasons that a professionally modified player is more beneficial.
The Cons of Software Hacks
• Most players have a specific, set number of times that they can be "hacked" or switched to another region. After that, the ability to switch regions will lock up, rendering the player useful only for whichever region it's been locked into. It's a very common occurrence for this to happen, and with no warning or chance to switch back to your native or default region setting.
• A good majority of the time, the "hack" you found online will not work after a software update. If you have no control over when your player updates, you could be stuck waiting for someone to post the new hack codes on a forum. Not only is this an inconvenience, but if your player updates while you're using another region setting, there's no telling if you'll ever find a code to change it back.
• Once a player has been hacked, the manufacturer warranty is null and void in most instances. Even if it's due to something other than region hacking, there is a good possibility that you could be left without a replacement or that you might be charged for repair instead of receiving a replacement.
The Pros of Hardware Modified Players
• Hardware modified players, when properly modified, will continue to work for the life of the player.
• Since a warranty on the region-free modification is generally provided by the company who performed the mod, there is no worry about the player being rejected by a manufacturer due to the modification.
• While some of the cheaper modifications have been know to fail to work after firmware updates, high-quality mods will continue to work, even after the updates. This means you can connect to the internet or wireless network without worrying about how updates will affect the player's functionality - something you can't always do with a hacked player.
When you spend your hard-earned money on a Blu-ray player, there is no reason to risk your investment just to play discs from another region. Why take chances with codes and software hacks when this is what region-free players are specifically meant for? If you're serious about watching movies from other regions, you need an efficient, secure and reliable way to watch foreign discs without risking the quality and functionality of your Blu-ray Player - with a hardware modified region-free player, that's what you get.
The Added Bonuses
Aside from the ability to play discs from various regions, region free players almost ALWAYS come with other added benefits. The most popular advantage is the addition of worldwide voltage capability and built-in PAL/NTSC conversion.
The worldwide voltage allows the player to operate at any voltage (110v-240v) which means it can be used literally in any country in the world. Just flip a switch on the back, depending which voltage you need to use it at. This feature is perfect for those who travel or live abroad.
The built-in PAL/NTSC conversion is another huge bonus for two reasons: Some foreign discs are in PAL format which will not work on an NTSC TV unless you use a video converter, and if you use the player in a foreign country, they might use PAL TV's and now your NTSC discs will not play. The built-in converter eliminates the need for a external converter, period.
More importantly, the combination of all the modifications is what counts. They go hand-in-hand, because a region-free player with worldwide voltage and built-in video converter ensures that you can play a disc from anywhere in the world, while you're in any location around the world, and from any TV. You cannot get that from a software hack.