Region Free MacBook/Pro

lexus

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Original poster
Mar 26, 2006
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I am interested in making my MacBook or MacBook Pro so I could play all regions natively in DVD player not VLC. I think VLC is bad program and clunky to use. HAs anyone got a fix for this.

Thanks
 

shadowmoses

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Mar 6, 2005
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As far as I know your only option is to use VLC....and How is it clunky to use just open the DVD and then you can navigate with the DVD's own menu.....

ShadoW
 

Kardashian

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Sep 4, 2005
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You can 'flash' the Firmware of the drive.

This basically erases any kind of instructions on the drive as to what types of DVDs it plays, and what it doesn't play, and stops that whole ''you can change your DVD setting 5-times'' thing.

As you know, if flashing Firmware goes wrong - your buggered, and not covered by warranty.

Personally, I would buy a Mac-compatible external DVD ± Burner on eBay, in a nice matching case (Black or Alum) for like £80 ($130?)

They are Region-Free right out the box, and nothing yucky happens to the Mac.
 

mrichmon

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2003
873
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lexus said:
Any links to these firmware flashes?
It usually takes several months between the release of a new Mac and the time when the firmware for the optical drive used in the mac to be hacked to make it region free. For example, the UJ-825 drive in my 1.5GHz powerbook still does not have a region free firmware available.

Therefore, as another poster suggested, you are more likely to have success by getting an external drive for which a region free firmware already exists and using that drive for DVD playback. A list of most of the region free firmwares available can be found at http://forum.rpc1.org/
 

PatrickF

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Feb 16, 2006
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Blighty
VLC no longer works on DVD drives supplied by Apple since somewhere around the 1.2GHz or 1.33GHz iBook G4s I think. Since the firmware on the DVD drive isn't RPC-1 (has no region coding) and the newer drives also do not allow raw access to the data, VLC and other applications have no way of getting at the data on these drives.

As josh.thomas said the only way around this (if you only want to use the internal drive of course) is to flash the firmware on your drive. So far I'm not aware of any RPC-1 firmware hacks for the updated drives though.
 

thumb

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May 8, 2005
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as long as you *ahem,* own the dvds, why not just use mac the ripper and watch them off your harddrive. uses way less battery life as well.
 

Kardashian

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Sep 4, 2005
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PatrickF said:
As josh.thomas said the only way around this (if you only want to use the internal drive of course) is to flash the firmware on your drive. So far I'm not aware of any RPC-1 firmware hacks for the updated drives though.
There actually wouldn't be any need to flash the firmware, just checked on eBay and there hundreds of DVD ± Burners that come with the correct region free firmware, work on a Mac, and via the DVD app - all out of the box, no messing with firmware etc. And it will burn them DVDs too, and have a warranty.

Thats your best bet. :)
 

Kardashian

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Sep 4, 2005
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lexus said:
I think a firmware update is my best option as I need it for on the road stuff where a external hd is too clunky.
Not really.

I strongly advise against doing a firware upgrade, just like other posters after me agree.

Firmware upgrades can take:

1. Months/Years to become available - if at all - as the case with the PB
2. They are not always easily installed
3. They often go wrong - meaning your drive is totally, completelly, utterly, USELESS! There is no way to reverse a flash, once its in progress, thats it. They often encounter complications and go wrong, meaning your internal drive is then totally useless - you may as well use it to store your credit cards or something, 'cos it ain't gonna be use for nothin' else!
4. Firmware flashing is against the rules of your warranty. If anything goes wrong, I know for a fact Apple will not try and help you, and their response will basically be ''You should never have done this, Goobye", correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't it also void the warranty on the computer?

Basically, if you want to risk screwing up a new MacBook, wrecking the internal drive - which by yourself will be a bitch to replace, and definatley void your warranty (This means your computer will not carry the 12 month warranty, nor will it be eligible for Apple Care - any big problems = your buggered), waiting months for a firmware upgrade, which may never come = then be my guest.

But listen to the advice of others on this board, an external would suit you best. They are not 'clunky' as youve described. People are now using laptop-sized drives as externals, meaning their tiny/thin, slot-loading drives. You could buy that already region-free - all you'd have to do it plug it in, and your away.

Should anything happen to that drive, the manufacturer would cover it - as you wouldn't have tampered with it in any way. Your MacBooks drive will still be free, your MacBook will still have all its warranties intact, and you won't have to wait months for firmware.

Externals your best bet, you'd be silly not to. You have a solution waiting for you now - why make life difficult by risking a £750/£1000+ machine?
 

netdog

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Feb 6, 2006
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If firmware becomes available for the Intel iMac and/or MacBook to do this, and I see that people are having success with it, I am going for it. Selling of DVD players with the firmware prom flashed is commonplace here in the UK. It's not as big a deal as people are saying, but the hack has to be good and the process has to be run to completion without interruption.
 

Kardashian

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Sep 4, 2005
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netdog said:
If firmware becomes available for the Intel iMac and/or MacBook to do this, and I see that people are having success with it, I am going for it. Selling of DVD players with the firmware prom flashed is commonplace here in the UK. It's not as big a deal as people are saying, but the hack has to be good and the process has to be run to completion without interruption.
That sounds about right. Your waiting to see what success other people have, which is a good thing, work on experience. You also sound as if you have some rough idea of how the process goes :) (no interruptions etc)

The fact Lexus asked for a 'fix' lead me to believe he didn't really understand much about how the whole drive-thing worked, so I tried to lay it out as best I can, that, in the long run - for someone in his position, an external would be best.

It involved no tinkering, carries its own warranty, and works straight away.

Why risk having headaches down the road, or total malfunction, when there is a fix readily available?

If you have the balls to do a firmware fix, if/when it becomes available, good luck to you - I don't. :p
 

lexus

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netdog said:
If firmware becomes available for the Intel iMac and/or MacBook to do this, and I see that people are having success with it, I am going for it. Selling of DVD players with the firmware prom flashed is commonplace here in the UK. It's not as big a deal as people are saying, but the hack has to be good and the process has to be run to completion without interruption.
I think I may go with that option.
 

AppleinJapan

macrumors regular
Apr 10, 2005
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thumb said:
as long as you *ahem,* own the dvds
I hate when people say this.......I live in japan and have REAL dvds from the U.S, England, Japan, Australia...When people ask for these programs why do people think that we are pirates...
 

mrichmon

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2003
873
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AppleinJapan said:
I hate when people say this.......I live in japan and have REAL dvds from the U.S, England, Japan, Australia...When people ask for these programs why do people think that we are pirates...
I think it is mostly because they don't understand the region coding issue. The movie studios have done a good job of making it appear that region coding is backed up by law. Thus, getting around region coding is breaking the law. IT is then a short step to breaking the law with regard to DVDs, the only people who want to break the law with DVDs are pirates... oooh evil.

I don't agree with this view of the world, just trying to explain it.

Region coding doesn't affect the majority of people who have been convinced that they can only buy DVDs from their own country. It does affect those like myself who travel a lot and have lived in a number of different regions and others who are just film buffs who seek out specific region versions of movies for various reasons. Fortunately some governments, particularly the Australian government, are pushing back against region coding.
 

netdog

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Feb 6, 2006
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I am not sure that I see how having region-free firmware would encourage me to pirate.

What region restrictive software does do is either make all of my American DVDs useless, or makes the ones that I have bought here since moving to the UK useless. If I move back to the USA, then the UK DVDs become a problem. Why on earth should my DVDs be limited like this? My CDs work wherever I go.
 

mrichmon

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2003
873
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netdog said:
Why on earth should my DVDs be limited like this?
They shouldn't in the ideal world. In the real world, movie studios pushed region encoding onto us because they wanted to protect profits in different markets. The argument goes like this:

Movies are released in cinemas at different times around the world. If a movie is released in the US market in cinemas in July and the US DVD is available in September, but the movie is not released in cinemas in the UK until December then without region encoding many people in the UK would get the US released DVD and not go to see the film in the UK cinemas. With region encoding the studios ensure that people in the UK will not be able to watch a DVD from a different market before the movie is shown in UK cinemas.​

They get away with this because every DVD player needs a decryption key to play commercial DVDs. As I understand it, the DVD consortium will only supply decryption keys to manufacturers of DVD players who produce players that comply with region encoding requirements. That is, players that only play DVDs from a single region with limits on how often the region can be changed in the player.
 

Makosuke

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Aug 15, 2001
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PatrickF said:
VLC no longer works on DVD drives supplied by Apple since somewhere around the 1.2GHz or 1.33GHz iBook G4s I think. Since the firmware on the DVD drive isn't RPC-1 (has no region coding) and the newer drives also do not allow raw access to the data, VLC and other applications have no way of getting at the data on these drives.
Say what? If you mean VLC won't play discs from out of your region, you might be correct--don't have one handy to test--but if you mean it won't play any DVDs, your're most definitely wrong. Just opened a Region 1 disc in VLC, and it played just fine.

gloss said:
Thank God that Japan and the US will be in the same Region code for Blu-Ray discs.
Really? REALLY? THANK GOD! Region coding has got to be one of the most backhanded, insulting, stupid things that media conglomerates have come up with since trying to kill the VCR. But really, Japanese and US discs are the only ones I'm particularly interested in playing, so if both of those are covered, then I'm good without going for a region-free player.
 

PatrickF

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Feb 16, 2006
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Blighty
Makosuke said:
Say what? If you mean VLC won't play discs from out of your region, you might be correct--don't have one handy to test--but if you mean it won't play any DVDs, your're most definitely wrong. Just opened a Region 1 disc in VLC, and it played just fine.
No you're missunderstanding me here. In the olden days (in my case iBook G4 933MHz - I think this worked up until the 1.2 or 1.33GHz iBook G4s) you could use VLC to effectively bypass the region coding even though DVD Player would still honour the region coding.

Since around the 1.33GHz iBooks, Apple started shipping different DVD drives with their machines that disabled the raw access to the DVD disc. This has prevented VLC from reading the raw data and bypassing the region coding in the DVD drive.

Since the region coding is handled in hardware on the DVD drive with no way around it anymore you can't use VLC to "get around" region coding.

Hope this makes more sense.
 

floyde

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Apr 7, 2005
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PatrickF said:
Since the region coding is handled in hardware on the DVD drive with no way around it anymore you can't use VLC to "get around" region coding.

Hope this makes more sense.
Yes, and the same is true for Mac the Ripper. There's simply no way to get around the region coding with the newer drives and the guy that was doing the firmware hacking apparently quit about a year ago.
 

benthewraith

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May 27, 2006
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Miami, FL
Makosuke said:
Say what? If you mean VLC won't play discs from out of your region, you might be correct--don't have one handy to test--but if you mean it won't play any DVDs, your're most definitely wrong. Just opened a Region 1 disc in VLC, and it played just fine.

Really? REALLY? THANK GOD! Region coding has got to be one of the most backhanded, insulting, stupid things that media conglomerates have come up with since trying to kill the VCR. But really, Japanese and US discs are the only ones I'm particularly interested in playing, so if both of those are covered, then I'm good without going for a region-free player.
I actually think HD-DVD will be the future rather than Blu-Ray. But that's just me. Sony thinks it can one up for Blu-Ray by releasing the PS3 with Blu-Ray, but who's going to spend $600 for a game console (you can buy a Mac Mini for that much)?

Also, I've opened VLC player with Mac, though never watched a DVD. :(
 

PatrickF

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Feb 16, 2006
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Blighty
floyde said:
Yes, and the same is true for Mac the Ripper. There's simply no way to get around the region coding with the newer drives and the guy that was doing the firmware hacking apparently quit about a year ago.
Exactly, should have made it clear that this will affect all applications that access the DVD drive.

I have noticed that firmware updates for drives used in Macs are practically non-existant so don't hold your breath waiting for firmware hacks for the drives in the MacBook (Pro)s anytime soon (or ever).

Thank the idiots in the DVD consortium and even more so those braindead monkeys at the MPAA.
 

Nermal

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Dec 7, 2002
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floyde said:
Yes, and the same is true for Mac the Ripper. There's simply no way to get around the region coding with the newer drives and the guy that was doing the firmware hacking apparently quit about a year ago.
Ah, that'd explain why I was unable to play or rip one of my region 1 DVDs on my new iMac. If I can't find a firmware update then I'll contact Apple because I'm pretty sure that the NZ Fair Trading Act requires them to provide a region-free solution if I ask for one.