Setting Up a Home Theatre...and discovering a problem.

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by InsertName, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009

    Firstly, I tend to be reasonably tech savvy...but occasionally confused by range of choice. I think these may be one of those occasions, so I thought I'd bring it to you lot.

    I have just purchased a new Panasonic plasma TV and the LG LHB953 blue-ray home theatre system to go with it. All good so far.

    However, it has occurred to me that, given that I recently moved to the USA from Europe, I'm going to have a good 150 DVDs that are Region 2...and I'm going to be trying to play them on a Region 1 player. Not so good.

    The LHB953 has a USB 2.0 port on the front allowing the use of an external hard drive. So...

    The obvious solution is to rip my Region 2 DVDs and place them on an external hard drive. As ever, the choice of programs seems to be rather wide and the end result varies.

    My questions are as follows;

    1. What program should I used to rip with? Ripit seems very, VERY easy to use and costs little. I know, however, that there are others with wider functionality--like MactheRipper and Handbrake for instance.
    2. If I simply rip these files and place them on an external hard drive will my LHB953 blu-ray be able to read them? Will I have to reformat from Ripit's offering (providing I use Ripit)? If so, is this a reason to get another program?
    3. Finally, should I just cut out the hard drive issue by using Ripit to extract files and remove encryption and then using a second program to burn a physical disk? If this is the way forward with the most chance of success which burning program should I use? Toast? Are there others that do the job just as well?

    Any help on these issues appreciated!

  2. macrumors member


    Jun 14, 2009
    Surprise, AZ
    Hm... I'm no expert, and I see that you already bought a Blu-ray player. The only thing I have to contribute is if you're not married to the idea of that player, I think region-free players exist.

    Otherwise, I don't know if you can just put the ripped files onto a DVD and play them back. I would guess yes, because my brother-in-law frequently rips and burns DVDs using Mactheripper and Handbrake, and he isn't very computer-tech-savvy. (He is, however, the owner of a small AV company. So maybe that helps.)

    I'll sniff around the internet and see if I can find any more useful information for ya. Good luck. :)
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Much appreciated!

    The catch with the blu-ray player is that it's the base unit in the theatre system--so switching it out is not an option. However, it's also a DVD upconverter, so playing DVDs of any flavor should not be an issue per se.

    That being said, the unit IS set up to take input from an external hard drive and DOES play MPEG2 from said hard drive (to the best of my knowledge). I am, however, a little wary of assuming it's going to be as simple as rip'n'play...suspecting that Ripit won't give me the file format I need (i.e. MPEG2). And, when I start thinking like that I start to become a little confused over just how to proceed and with what. My current thinking is;

    DVD; Ripit; File Conversion; Move to HDD to be read by blu-ray.

    On the other hand;

    DVD; Ripit (or other); Toast (or other); physical disk; insert in blu-ray.

    Might be much easier in the long run. I just don't know... :)

  4. macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    You basically have two choices. The first, as you mention, is to rip all your DVDs and then use Toast to burn the video_ts folders back to another DVD. I assume you'll be using dual-layer discs whenever you need to, but you can also use DVD2OneX to get rid of unwanted stuff and compress a dual-layer movie onto a single-layer DVD.

    The other option would be to rip them all to a drive and use a media extender to play them on your television. You could use a Mac mini, Popcorn Hour, Apple TV (if you transcode the video_ts folders to mpeg-4), Western Digital TV, etc.

    Either way, it's going to be a time-consuming process.

    I guess a third choice would be to just buy Region 1 copies of the DVDs you really like and leave the rest alone for now.

    EDIT: I just re-read your post and see that your Blu-ray player does play from an external drive. VOB files from ripped DVDs are mpeg-2, but you'll have to check to see if that's a container your LG will play.
  5. Tup
    macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2009
    I don't know about your player but you may find it has a secret menu to allow you to make it region free - google it.
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Thanks very much for the info--it should prove invaluable!


  7. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Buy a region free DVD player.

    Hook up the mac and use VLC.
  8. macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2007
    Even easier than all the above is to google your bluray model number for "region free code/firmware" or something similar. They exist for 100's of players and quite often are as simple as pressing buttons on the remote in a certain order. Sometimes it's a firmware download you burn to DVD but even that is painless and trouble free if you research a little first.

    Either way it's cheaper than buying a new player and it's also less heartache than ripping all those DVD's to a Hard Drive too. I've done it on at least 4 DVD players over the years and also my current BluRay. Can't go wrong.
  9. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Would that I could! I can't for the life of me find a region free code for my LG. I don't think one exists as yet, which is tiresome. :)

  10. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2008
    I don't think you're going to be able to play video files from an external HD on this unit. This is from the manual under "Using USB Devices":

    Music files (MP3/WMA) and photo files (JPEG/PNG) can be played. For
    details of operations on each file, refer to relevant pages.

    I was not able to find any reference to being able to play video files from a USB device.
  11. macrumors 65816


    Nov 11, 2006
    Austin, Tx
    Or just use your 2 player for the old dvd's and get a 1 player for the new ones.
  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Ah, well, that's one thing cleared up then!

    I think the best way to go (without having to acquire any more hardware) is to decrypt and rip my DVDs to my HDD with something like Ripit and then burn those files to dual-layer DVD with something like Toast. Then just use the resulting DVDs.

    I can't see any reason why that wouldn't work...amirite?


  13. macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Yes, ripping will remove the region encoding.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2008
    I get confused sometimes with the whole PAL/NTSC thing, so this may not be accurate, but I'm not sure that ripping to remove the region code is all that needs to happen. Won't the resulting files still be PAL and don't you need a player that can do a PAL to NTSC conversion?
  15. macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Ahh, good point. I was focusing so much on the region issue that I forgot there is also a resolution and frame rate difference. But I'm thinking the same thing you are, that it won't work. Not unless you use software that will convert the PAL vobs to NTSC before burning the new disc. I don't know on the Mac side, but I think Nero can do this on the PC side. I have no idea how good (or bad) it looks in the end.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2008
    Some DVD players will actually convert PAL to NTSC as long as there are no region issues, so it's not a guarantee that this one won't be able to handle PAL. However, I think most of the ones that do that are the super cheap players where they only want to build one unit to sell everywhere in the world.
  17. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Hmm, so now we're looking at; rip DVD, convert files, burn new DVD right? From what I understand this isn't necessarily a problem for PC users (or for those who can dual boot their Mac obviously); AnyDVD, Nero, CloneDVD seems to work for them.

    Does anyone know of any Mac native programs that can handle the file conversion? It seems Ripit and Toast can do the rest.

    Thanks to everyone who's taken part in this thread--you have all been HUGELY helpful.

  18. macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2008
    with the price nowadays

    It would be cheaper to buy a dvd player than to buy all those dvd's. Plus think about time value, I mean your time is worth something to you right? Just look online for a cheap upconverter that's region free or coded for whatever region you need. This is America, and anything you need is available online.
  19. macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2008
    Buy a region free DVD player

    Hi InsertName,
    I had much of the same problem as you just in the opposite direction (Region 1 DVDs in Region 2 land). I've tried so many different ways and the least painful one was to buy an upconverting DVD player that can be unlocked.

    Ripping and burning is going to be a long tedious task. This is made even worse because the DVD drives on Macs has a recent feature called riplock. If the book format is DVD-Video (different from DVD-ROM or DVD-R) it slows the spindle down to 1.5x (this is to minimize vibrations and noise during movie playback, but for rippers it's an annoyance). So a 2 hour movie takes 1+ hours to rip.

    Also, if your TV is recent you won't need to worry about PAL/NTSC encoding. Most TVs come from China, the internals are the same the only thing they change at the factory is the tuner board. Unlike old CRTs, the refresh rate isn't tied to the mains. (My Toshiba, in Windows, reports 25,30,50,60, and 75 Hz refresh rates).
  20. macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2004
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    You've got a few more problems to contend with

    Have a few region 2 DVD's myself, since I'm originally from the UK.

    First off, all computer DVD players have built in region locking. If you change from playing a region 1 to region 2 DVD more than 5 times, it may lock you into the region you played on the 5th time. The only way to fix this would be to flash the ROM on the DVD drive. On a Mac, autoplaying the DVD with DVD player will also do the same thing in OSX. There is shareware that will help reset the OSX setting (RegionX?), but there isn't any easy way of fixing the firmware of the player. So if you do this, you need to research making your computer DVD player region free first.

    Second, you will incur video skipping on most DVD players when you try to play PAL video on American TV's. Unlike TV's sold outside of North America, TV's here will only play American standards - this includes HDTV's.

    I highly recommend you either rip all your Region 2 DVD's at once (so you don't flip/flop the Region 1 - Region 2 - Region 1 setting more than twice), or the easiest way would be to buy a good DVD player.

    I have an Oppo DV-981HD player for playing these DVD's, since that player has a built in PAL-NTSC converter, and outputs in HD. This player has since been discontinued, but they have other players that do the same thing, and now have a blu-ray version. The code to make it region free can be found easily with google.

    Good luck

    PS. I use handbrake for ripping, which does an excellent job. Any player should be able to handle the additional resolution (PAL has almost 100 more lines of resolution over NTSC).
  21. macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    All Phillips DVD players can be converted to Region Free status, usually by opening the drawer, pressing "9999" on the remote, then closing the drawer. Progressive scan Phillips players can be bought off the shelf (in Best Buy etc.) for about $30, and they do a fine job of playing UK DVDs (don't know about European, which may be different).

    However, what I have done is to rip all my UK DVDs using Handbrake on my Mac with an Apple preset. Then all you have to do is drag the movie file icon onto iTunes to get it into your library. If you want to get all the info, you can then use MetaX to tag the file as necessary. The only wrinkle is that you have to disable the auto-starting of the Mac DVD player, as this will try to change your region setting on your Mac when you insert the foreign disk, and this can only be changed a limited number of times before the OS will lock the region setting to whatever is the current one. Using Handbrake doesn't attract the same attention from the OS, so it's not a problem if the DVD player isn't auto-starting. I then play all these movies through my Apple TV or on my iPhone etc.

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