DVD formats

Pulp-less Fiction: Digital Downloads

This blog is about new paperless reading materials like downloadable audio books, ebooks, and online magazines, made available to you through the Appleton Public Library. I plan to provide helpful tips on using these new products, along with reviews of audio books, music on cd, and movies on DVD and Blu-ray.  The library is changing as rapidly as your access to media and the Internet. We want to keep on top of the trends and bring you information and entertainment in a way that fits your life today.   -Beth

When looking for the older movie In Harm’s Way in DVD format for someone there were two entries for the movie at an online site where they sell DVDs that are out of print (no longer being produced).  The person asked why there was a huge difference in price between the two items which looked identical. One cost $46.97 while the other cost $5.67.   

 dvd format example

Many people don’t realize that DVDs (and VHS before that) are produced in different formats.  The first movie was listed as Region 1, for the United States & Canada, and the second as Region 2.  Some sites will have this listed on the same line as the title, but on other sites you may need to look through the description in order to find this information.  The region is usually listed on the DVD case as either a region number or a list of countries where it will play on the average machine.  The price was lower on the second DVD because on a U.S. web site there is less call for DVDs in other Region formats, as they won’t work on many machines.


DVDs are formatted differently in various regions of the world so film distributors can control aspects of release including content, release date and price for each area as well as restrict where they can be played.  Multiple region DVD players are available if you look for them.  They can play DVDs for some or all regions.  Most people wouldn’t need them, since DVDs sold in U.S. stores or available from the library will be Region 1.

 DVD Format Region

Standard DVD Regions: 

0 - No Region Coding

1 - United States of America, Canada

2 – Much of Europe, Turkey, Egypt, parts of the Middle East, Japan and South Africa

3 - Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and other Southeast Asia areas

4 – Mexico, Central & South America , the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand

5 - India, much of Asia, most of Africa, Russia and former USSR countries

6 – People’s Republic of China

7 - Unused

8 - Airlines/Cruise Ships

9 - Expansion (often used as region free)


Blu-ray discs also have regions, but they have a letter/number code. 

Region A/1 is what we would find in the store here.  It covers North America, Central America & South America, as well as Japan, North & South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. 

Region B/2 is for Europe, French Territories, Middle East, Africa, Australia & New Zealand. 

Region C/3 covers most of Asia.


The difference is between Blu-ray discs and DVDs is also that of format.  Though you can play DVDs in most Blu-ray players, it doesn’t work the other way--DVD players don’t play Blu-ray discs.  Many people are also able to use their video game console to play Blu-rays and/or DVDs.

Sometimes a DVD will be listed as PAL or NSTC.  Originally these were analog frequencies for television signals and DVD systems were designed to read DVDs encoded in these formats.  The terms may still be used as identifiers.


NSTC is the video standard historically associated with the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, and other countries.  PAL is for most European countries, most of Africa, China, Australia & New Zealand, Israel and other countries.  Some DVD players can only play discs in one of these standards.

DVD-R is another term you may see.  It may mean that the DVD has been recorded on demand, using a less professional process than DVDs released by major studios.  Sometimes these don’t play as well, or will play on a computer but not on your DVD player.


Two additional standards for DVD-R disks exist: DVD-RG for general use and DVD-RA for authoring, used for mastering DVD video or data.  The latter is not typically available to the general public.


Now you know what to look for when purchasing movies on dvd!


DVD Region map from http://openclipart.org/detail/2240/dvd-regions-by-molumen

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