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Heads up: Intel Mac mini and Region Free DVD playback
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jeremyh
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:01 am    Post subject: Heads up: Intel Mac mini and Region Free DVD playback Reply with quote

Just a quick note to all current and prospective buyers of the new Intel Mac minis. I just set mine up over the weekend. Since I live in the US, I have the drive set to region 1. I tried to play some of my region 2 DVD's via the Intel version of VLC. No go. Tried the PPC versions of VLC. No go. It would only play discs whose region the drive was set to. This was NOT the case with my PPC Mac mini that I swapped out.

Turns out that the Intel Mac minis (at least like the Core Duo that I have) uses the Matsushita UJ-836 DVD drive. The drive is RPC-2 locked. This basically means that the drive and not the software determines what region plays back. When you set the region in Apple's DVD player, that gets sent to the hardware of the DVD player (and can only be switched 5 times before it's locked for good).

So, it seems like that, for now, if you want to watch other region DVDs on your brand new Intel Mac mini, you'll need to rip them. I haven't tried this on the mini itself. I use the G5 for that (since it rips faster).

It stinks to lose this functionality but we only have the MPAA to thank for that...
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curt
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised to hear VLC doesn't work. That's a first.
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jeremyh
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup. Did lots o' searching on this last night. Turns out it's nothing the VLC devs can do about it. Most of the UJ-8XX series have this problem.
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picaman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:45 am    Post subject: Re: Heads up: Intel Mac mini and Region Free DVD playback Reply with quote

jeremyh wrote:
It stinks to lose this functionality but we only have the MPAA to thank for that...


I wouldn't let Apple off the hook either--I think it's their choice of which drive to use.

This doesn't bode well for the usability of Apple's implementation of an eventual home theater solution, if this is the path they are choosing.

Confused

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jeremyh
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Apple has to play ball or the MPAA comes down on them so they're kind of caught. To be sure, they probably could have chosen another player but the player choice could have been driven by cost. It seems those UJ-836 drives are used in a number of Apple products recently so me thinks they got a sweet deal on them and just decided it was the most cost effective approach- especially for their cheapest computer.

Of course, Apple could have said "screw 'em" and put it in there on purpose, but I tend to think the folks in Cupertino aren't that malicious. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeremyh wrote:
It seems those UJ-836 drives are used in a number of Apple products recently so me thinks they got a sweet deal on them and just decided it was the most cost effective approach- especially for their cheapest computer.


True, but the drives they used to use weren't crippled like that. They may have gotten a good deal, but I'm still betting that they killed two birds with one stone, and consciously chose to get a good deal on some drives that would make the MPAA happy.

This whole issue just gets me so irritated. I can't hook my Pioneer HDTV up to my Scientific America HD cable box with HDMI via the DVI connector on my TV because of HDCP copy protection. If Apple implements things similarly on their PVR solution (assuming they even do one), I will be one really unhappy camper.

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jeremyh
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

picaman wrote:
If Apple implements things similarly on their PVR solution (assuming they even do one), I will be one really unhappy camper.


Agreed. Fortunately, I don't think there's ever been a consumer-level encryption technology that hasn't been compromised so hopefully some resourceful person will find a way should Apple ever decide to go that route.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I took my Pioneer DVR K05 out of my old Mini and installed it in the Intel Mini, everything should be a go...right?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm not sure it would work(possible internal form factor differences), but if you're willing to try it and report back, it would be good to know if this exists as a possible work around.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeremyh wrote:
Well, I'm not sure it would work(possible internal form factor differences), but if you're willing to try it and report back, it would be good to know if this exists as a possible work around.

Well the disc drives have the exact same screw placement, plus it's mounted exactly the same. It has the same connect board as before. So it must be only an upgraded drive, like the ones off of the iMac. Which are not that different from the DVR K05 (still a more superior drive). Plus the DVR K05 is supported in 10.4.4 natively.

It seems that the DVR K05 has region coding also...but I don't know if the VLC workaround works with that drive, I haven't tried it. From what I read, Pioneer OEM drives not from Apple have a different firmware. Apple puts their own firmware settings into the drives, which you can buy an "authentic certified" Apple DVR K05 for $200-300, or an OEM/Retail Pioneer DVR K05 for $80-150. But they both have different firmware, even though they are both supported in the Mini.

But would any of these things work on any of the drives?
I'm not interested into region free dvd drives, plus I have no other region dvds, so it would make no sense for me to try.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go for it! Worst that can happen is that it doesn't work, right? Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Updated my post after reading some info on the Pioneer drives.

It seems that most people get around the region coding by replacing their Matsushita (Panasonic) drives with Pioneer drives, that have upgraded firmware to region free.
Some region code page, I lost the forum page discussing user experiences (had my private browsing on).
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DVRFlash does work, but you just need to make sure the right firmware is downloaded and flashed or your drive is toast in milliseconds.

The drive just needs to be set to RPC-1. I believe that the Pioneer drives can have this done to them with little/no problem. The Matsushita drives use encrypted firmware and, as a result, are much more difficult to reverse compile.

I half-tempted to put my older CD-RW drive from my old Mac mini into the new one just so I play my DVDs. I don't need DL burning at my media center. I'm just not keen on cracking open my brand new computer.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeremyh wrote:
I'm just not keen on cracking open my brand new computer.

I wasn't either, but I eventually installed the Pioneer, 1GB of RAM and even the modem into my computer. I only installed the modem, since I might be moving and probably won't have broadband for a while. Plus I hate having all these extra dongles and such.

Later this week I'm getting another Mac Mini top housing. It only cost me $40 + shipping (some places have the housing for $150), so I'm going to paint it and/or add other things to it. Then I'll replace my current one with that one. I might change the other one too, so I can change the look of my Mini every now and then.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:11 pm    Post subject: questions Reply with quote

where is region 2 anyway and also i think this is a good post since i sometimes watch foreign DVDs mainly Europe and Japan.
also i wonder if there is a chip in the drives that tells it not to recognize any other regions or could be reset since the intel solos have one core disabled in manufacturing, i've heard, i wonder if it can be reset.
also could the second core be enabled because that would save $100 which is still $100 saved for other items.
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