I recently found out from some friends of mine that our local Target was selling a $50 Philips DVD player that has an extremely simple hack you can use to change the region of the player (more on that later). As an added bonus, this player has component video. I figured at that price; I just had to check it out, so last night I headed over to Target and found the player hidden in the back corner of their “electronics” section. The shelf model was a decent, blue color but all 4 of the remaining boxed versions were a nasty neon-orange color. I also found that Target was selling them for $59.48 and oddly enough; the boxes weren’t sealed. In fact, while I was standing around there debating whether or not to actually buy the thing, I decided to open one of the boxes up and look through it. The player and all of it’s accessories were wrapped up in plastic bags and shut inside of a clear, plastic shell. I looked over the owner’s manual and at the hookups on the back of the player, confirming that this cheap, little player actually had component video. It did, so I bought the unit and a generic component video cable. I bought this generic cable, as the player only comes with an RCA audio/video cable and I opted not to spend the money on a better cable because I doubt the player will put out sufficiently good video signal to make it worth investing in a pricier cable.
$59.48 | Philips DVP320F DVD Player
$09.99 | Generic Component Video Cable
$69.47 | SubTotal
$03.48 | IA Sales Tax
$72.95 | Total Cost
When I got home; I immediately started hooking the player up to the rest of my A/V gear. I was expecting this to be the most painful part of the whole deal, but the component video cable let me plug the player directly into the empty plugs on the back of my TV (my other DVD player only has S-Video out) and there was an empty set of audio inputs on the my amplifier/stero unit. Plus there was still 1 free power outlet on the surge protector! 🙂
There’s a couple of things I should mention at this point:
- This is a cheap player and some of those cost savings really show. One in particular is the back panel of the player where all the hookups are; this panel is a thin sheet of plastic and I could feel it flexing like it was going to break as I attached the power cord.
- The remote is only slightly larger than a credit card and thinner than a CD jewel case; but don’t let the small size fool you, they packed a lot of buttons on to this little remote. This is both good and bad. Good in that the remote has lots of features; bad in that to do so all the buttons are equally tiny. Some additional notes about the remote:
- The remote is made of a cheap plastic and feels like you could crush it with hardly a thought.
- The remote is powered by a flat battery (like those used in watches) and that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing but opening the battery compartment reveals that the battery is held in place by a couple of plastic tongs that are part of the cover to the battery compartment. A much better solution would have been to have the batter compartment cover a seperate piece altogether that screws into place, alas Philips didn’t go that route on this player.
After getting everything hooked up; I immediately tested out the region hack that had been mentioned to me. This hack allows you to set your player to whatever region you desire and you can accomplish this by:
- Turn the player on.
- Open the disc tray, but do not insert a disc.
- Press 999 on the remote.
- Press the number of the region you want the player to use (e.g. 0 for no region).
After doing that, you should see a bit of white text appear on the screen in the upper left saying…
Region: 0 or whatever region that you were switching the player to. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any non-region1 DVDs handy to test with, so I can’t say for absolute certainty that this works now but I feel confident that it does. What I did have handy was the next disc in The Avengers – The Complete Emma Peel Megaset. I popped it in and started playing it. The video quality seemed pretty good to my eyes, but then I was watching remastered copies of 1967 color television; so your mileage might vary.
Some additional notes:
- The DVP320F spins up much faster than my old DVD player.
- The remote as a button that takes you directly to the root menu of the DVD. I haven’t tried it on a lot of discs yet, but it seems to work pretty damn well (hopefully allowing you to skip the “enforced” trailer watching).
- The player officially supports normal DVDs, DVD+R, DVD+RW, Audio CDs, VCD, SVCD, Photo CDs, discs with straight MPEG files burned to them. Rumor has it that DVD-R discs will work too.
- Unlike my old player, when you pause your movie on the DVP320F; it leaves a still image on the screen (my old player switched to a stupid graphic which looked like a piece of movie film and written on one of the frames was Intermission. I’ve always hated that about my old player.
- The DVP320F has a zoom feature that will zoom into the center of the screen about 8 times and when and can zoom out to show more picture up to about 1/16 err… “anti-zoom”. Unfortunately, there’s only one button for this feature; so you have it press it multiple times, cycling through all zoom modes if you want to get back to the regular 1/1 zoom setting.
If I get a chance and the inclination; I’ll see about taking some pics of the player and adding them to this post. Of course, people making requests increases the odds of me doing this…