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Consumer Friendly (or Disney Hostile) DVD Players? 590

solli asks: "After 13 years of relatively faithful service my Mitsubishi(!) VCR has finally kicked the bucket, and I am now thinking of moving on to DVDs. One of the only things preventing me from buying a DVD is the fact that some media companies like to make you watch FBI warnings, trailers, and ads before allowing you to view the actual movie (like Disney's Tarzan). Of course, there is such a large demand for region free players and other specialized needs that niche markets have developed to fill that demand. However, I have seen nothing about players that give you the freedom to navigate through the disk the way you want to, instead of how the content producer wants you to. What DVD players exist that let the viewer take full advantage of the nonlinear properties of the DVD media? Can any of the available players ignore the directives embedded on-disk to disable certain controls at particular times?"
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Consumer Friendly (or Disney Hostile) DVD Players?

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  • Apex AD600 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dystopium ( 255143 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:04PM (#4036810)
    You can always try picking up one of the old APex AD 600 Players. Macrovision disabled, Region free.
    • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:09PM (#4036838) Journal
      Actually, a lot of the AD1500's from WalMart are hackable. You need to check the serial number (you can find stuff on the net about it.)

      I got an AD1500 in January and it was software moddable (get the wrong serial number on it, and it's a hardware mod unfortunately). Burn the rom to a CD, stick it in the player, it whirrs, flashes the rom, ejects the disk. Bingo. Region free, no Macro etc... Google is your friend.

      Best part about Apex? Very cheap, and yet one of the few DVD players on the market that can play PAL DVD's on an NTSC TV. I know, I've done it.
      • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:3, Informative)

        Neglected to add that you can access the content on the disk how you want. Just punch in the number of the section you want to get to. Great way of finding easter eggs (EG: From Hell, to reach the hidden 40 minute easter egg, yes, 40 minutes, you punch in 21).
      • Yeah, the Apex will output either NTSC or PAL from either kind of disc (including video-CD) at the push of a button. Came in very handy when I was testing some software with a PAL VCR for a customer in Australia -- I had the PAL VCR and monitor but no source of PAL signal, so I just brought in my Apex from home.

        It does (at least, my old AD600 does) occasionally hiccup on a couple of DVDs I have (eg push the "back to main menu" button and it launches off into the middle of the movie somewhere) -- I remember "Stuart Little" as one such. But you can still navigate around using the block numbers. And most discs are fine.
    • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:5, Informative)

      by 13Echo ( 209846 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:32PM (#4036945) Homepage Journal
      I have an Apex AD660, that was "upgradable" with a simple ISO CDR image. I can't complain about the player. It has been running great for over 2 years now. I have firends that have had the AD600A models even longer, and all are running without problems. Wal-Mart stores have the players for about $70 or so for the cheapest models. You really can't beat them. They are truely the best bang-for-buck in a DVD player. They are also the most hackable.

      Check out Nerd-Out [nerd-out.com] for all of the info that you could ever want on the Apex and similar players.

      I am not sure that there is a DVD player in existance that does what you wnat it to do, but the Apex players are the closest things possible.
    • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:5, Informative)

      by BRTB ( 30272 ) <slashdot@brt b . org> on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:57PM (#4037022) Homepage
      Apex AD1100-W's are great and $65 at Wal-mart [walmart.com].

      If you can find the 1meg-ROM unit you can reflash it to be MV and region free; the more common 512k-ROM just has the region-free hack right now but the MV fix is in the works. [check the Nerd-Out forums [nerd-out.com] - AD1100 section, pinned topic at the top] All the DVD's I've used on it, the thing just skips everything you tell it to. Even the sometimes annoyingly-long intros on play menus - don't have to wait for it to come up, press play and it actually PLAYS.

      And it has some other nice features: plays MP3s, VCDs, SVCDs, and it'll even show you a CD full of JPEGs. There have even been reports it'll show you raw MPEG files burned to CD (haven't tried that one yet).

      No I don't work for Apex, but a box that'll do all that for cheap is a pretty good deal. (Sorry, no component outputs, progressive scan or optical digital out [does have coax], but what do you want for $65?)
      • Yeah, I've got to second that. I picked up a AD1100-W with the 1MB rom from walmart a couple months ago, and it's great. It's easily flashable to region- and macrovision- free, and it plays anything I through at it. Definately check out the nerd-out forum on how to find a 1MB rom version.
    • Everyone I know who's owned one has had it fall apart on them after a year or so. Stay far away from Apex players, if you know what's good for you.

      They're cheap, cheap pieces of crap.

      - A.P.
      • I've had my Apex for about three years now, still works just fine. It (model 600) uses a standard computer DVD drive, so if that ever breaks I'll just swap it out. I did open it up and put heat sink grease between the sinks and the two chips that run hot, and added a small CPU fan in there to help keep things cooler. Nothing your average slashdotter couldn't do.
    • Well... I just posted [slashdot.org] about how my Apex 600 wont play some Disney DVDS (Stuart little) the other day.

      Plus Someone replied about how the "Cd-noise" is rather common with the newer APEXs. The remotes/onscreen menus are quite horrible. (I own a newer apex ad-1100 also)

      I bought a couple Apexs thinking it would be cool to play mp3s/vcd's in the living room. But really, I hardly ever do that, just DVDs. Burned twice with crappy quality, im sticking with name brand models now, most support vcd/svcd/mp3 and are of better quality. Plus my next dvd will have progressive scan. (And hopefully the ability to force skip over those damn commericals/fbi logos)
      Do you DirectVNC [adam-lilienthal.de].
      • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AJWM ( 19027 )
        My Apex 600 does something funky with the Stuar Little DVD (I don't remember the details, it has been a while since I (or rather, my kids) last watched it) -- but was easy enough to get it to actually play.

        If I remember right, use the "Resume" button on the remote -- and as I type this I seem to remember that's a recommended solution for a few other discs with similar problems. A software glitch in the player firmware, which may well have been fixed in a later version. (Of course, the later firmware versions also disable the easy access to the "secret" menu that lets you disable Macrovision.)

        The Apex is a nice little box for the price, perfectly adequate for watching movies on an old 21" (or whatever it is) TV with plain stereo in the playroom. When I move up to a 60" progressive scan wide screen with full 5.1 surround, I'll get a better quality DVD player too.
    • Re:Apex AD600 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by muffen ( 321442 )
      I find the difference between Europe and the US a little amusing. Over here, I would say that atleast 60% of sold DVD-players are regionfree. It is completly legal, and most big chains sell all their players regionfree.

      Even if you manage to pick up a player that is not, then making it region free is something most stores will do.
  • flipbook (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:05PM (#4036817)
    god i remember the good ol days of flipbooks.....all you had to do was open to the desired page, and start the movie from there.......no ads, no feds, no nothin......course, there was no sound either, but the movies didn't really need it then anyways.
  • by Ryu2 ( 89645 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:06PM (#4036820) Homepage Journal
    Some software players, particularly non-commerical ones like IFOEDIT, or some of the open-source players that have appeared, let you toggle ignoring the bits that prohibit user operations (like FF/skip) at places like the FBI warning. Yeah, it's a slight hassle having to hook your PC up to a TV, but I don't know of any standalone units that have this feature.
    • by coupland ( 160334 ) <dchase@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:15PM (#4036873) Journal

      While I realize this is probably illegal, it drives me up the wall to have to view these things. My solution was to buy a DVD burner and use IFOEDIT to rip my favourite DVDs (which I paid for), remove all annoying crap, and then re-burn them. Most players are fine with the modified disks and it lets me view in peace without those annoying warnings that say "dude, don't even think of doing what you just described..."

      • So what do you burn them to (and with)?

        Most blank DVD media and burners only do 4.7 GB (single layer, single sided), whereas most movies are probably in the 7 to 9 GB range. The FBI warnings don't take that much space!

        (Don't tell me you actually recompress all the video to a lower bit rate. You are a looney, in that case.)
        • by Sancho ( 17056 )
          You can remove a lot of stuff that you don't need... additional languages, subtitles, other misc. tracks (like commentary), deleted scenes, etc. I usually watch the "extras" once for every 5-6 times I watch a movie. I never use the extra language tracks, and I only watch commentary on DVDs where I expect it to be entertaining (as opposed to commentary that is almost exclusively devoted to the filmography, which I'm not interested in).
          When you consider all this that you can remove, you can almost always fit a single DVD movie onto the 4.7g available to DVD-Rs.
      • Whew, boy... that sounds like a real convenience... a real time-saver too. Couple hours later and you're ready to watch! Of course, your wife has fallen asleep and it's time to take the fucking dog out to pee... but dmaned if you don't got you some lean DVDs!

        Just close your eyes for the duration of the bullshit. Sheesh. Talk about your '30 pound sledge' solution...

        Hey... wait a minute... You don't code for Microsoft, by chance, do you?
  • by raiyu ( 573147 ) <raiyu&raiyu,com> on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:06PM (#4036827) Homepage
    Exactly how lazy are you that you cant wait an additional 12 seconds for the FBI warnings to scroll by? Use that valuable time to pick your nose I say.
    • by sqlrob ( 173498 )
      12 seconds?

      I never heard ~10 minutes called 12 seconds. Tarzan has the previews on that unskippable track
    • by MyHair ( 589485 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:54PM (#4037014) Journal
      It's the fact that hardware I *bought* and the DVD I *bought* artificially limits my ability to use the media as designed. And against my will.

      Okay, maybe some warnings are 12 seconds, but how long do you think it will be before there are more trailers and even must-watch commercials on DVDs? I've seen commercials on VHS, why not DVD? (Trailers ARE commercials, anyway.)

      I like DVD's ability to pause, skip and jump in a random-access fashion (or I should say on-demand fashion).

      Two things I HATE and am getting more and more irritated by daily:

      1: Services that I pay for are forcing advertising upon me and/or harvesting my "consumer information" and using it against my desires (email spam, junk mail, telemarketing, etc..). Services include telephone service, internet service, cable TV, my grocery store and my credit cards. (For years I refused to get a store card, but now I moved and the only two close grocery stores have store cards; it's pay up, drive far or give in, and I gave in, put I'm pissed off about it and will switch in a second if something better comes by.) I understand some products and services (such as low cost ISP's , adware and broadcast TV) use these tactics to offer a lower-priced option to the consumer. If there's another reasonably-priced option and the terms are disclosed I'm okay with that. I've always paid more than the minimum for my ISP.

      2: Products I legitimately buy intrusively warn me, nag me or inconvenience me with things like legal warnings and anti-piracy measures such as CD keys and copy protection. Frankly it's easier to install free (legitimately) or pirated software than it is to find *my* CD key whenever I reinstall.

      Books don't have legal warnings beyond the copyright date. Print art has no warnings on it. My furniture and appliances don't warn me that I'll be sued if I use their design to build copies and sell them. Vinyl records didn't have warnings. Cassette tape (prerecorded or blank) didn't have warnings. My CD-R, CD-RW, VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Betamax, DAT, TR-1, QIC-80, SanDisk, floppy disk and hard disk media didn't come with warnings. The movies in the theater have no warnings. By video and system BIOS don't have warnings. Why do VHS, DVD and software require intrusive and inconvenient warnings?

      • Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I were to just give in. To walk into the machine with wide-open eyes; to accept the culture of invasive advertizement as easilly as I accept changes in the weather; to join every booksaver club that saves me even a couple bucks a year; to make all my purchasing decisions based on who calls me and offers me a service; to post my e-mail address everywhere without a care in the world, utterly willing to see my in-box brim over with spam on a daily basis.

        It would be an interesting experiment... but would also be a very difficult one to end, once the system had its talons in me.

      • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:10PM (#4037270) Homepage
        It's the fact that hardware I *bought* and the DVD I *bought* artificially limits my ability to use the media as designed.

        Uhm...nope. It is using the media exactly as designed. The ability to place those restrictions on the disc is part of the DVD design.

      • by splorf ( 569185 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:35AM (#4037524)
        I've always just made up some crap to write on the card (not my real name or address--are you kidding?) and they've given me the card no problem. I told them flat out that the info I was giving them was false and they didn't care. They're store clerks who work for a living and they don't like the corporate idiots trying to collect this personal info any more than you or I do.
        • In some ways, it really doesn't matter who you are and where you live. I'm sure they actually use the data they collect for more than junkmailing you to death. Your shopping habits, trends, ect. is the *real* valuable information. Your address is just a little bonus :)

          • Just swap cards with your friends once in a while. That happens at cypherpunk meetings. Everyone throws their card in a hat, then the cards get stirred around in the hat, then everyone takes out a card.
  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:07PM (#4036830) Journal
    I hate to say it, but a PC is a lot more flexible than a consumer DVD player... I'd go with the PC on this one... I doubt you will find too many DVD players that will allow you to skip the warnings... heck, even on the PC, you have to get hacked software to do it...
  • Premodded players (Score:5, Informative)

    by slug359 ( 533109 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:07PM (#4036831) Homepage
    An excellent site for those of us living in the UK is http://www.techtronics.com/.
    These guys supply premodded DVD players, I bought my Panasonic from here last Christmas. Apart from the long delivery time, they were perfect.

    Mine has the fastforwarding through trailers/warnings, region free, and is demacrovisioned.

    They also have the option that (if you're a bit scared of soldiering inside your new £400 gadget like me) you can send them your DVD player and they'll chip it for you, of course if they screw up they pay for it (when I bought mine at least, may have changed now).

  • by satsuke ( 263225 )
    While this may not be a standalone DVD player {though with the remote it's pretty close.

    But the ATI DVD player lets you go to a particular track without messing with the currently playing video.

    Seems organized by track and index -- those two sets of numbers on most DVD players .. can also select different soundtracks and such.

    For those times when the DVD authoring shop chose to lock soundtracks into those selected at the menu. -My Sony DVP-530A does this sometimes-

  • by tempmpi ( 233132 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:10PM (#4036844)
    Some sony players can be flased with a modified firmware that disables region coding and the UOPs.
    Here is a page with a patch [brouhaha.com] for the firmware of the Sony DVP-S7000 DVD Player.
    • Even better.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by decaying ( 227107 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:23PM (#4036918) Homepage Journal

      ....is a site that has lots [regionfreedvd.net] of players

    • In New Zealand region coding is considered a restraint of trade... couple that with educated consumers and you will find region free players are the norm.

      .....I went to the sony store to buy a player and the sales guy said they flashed the firmware of all their players coming into the country because of consumer demand.... simply no one was buying them before.

      They must be using this patch you talk about because I can skip through all the FBI warnings.

      And why do they even put the FBI warning on zone 4 DVD's anyway???.... the FBI has absolutely no jurisdiction in any contries that are zone 4 (New Zealand, Australia, the pacific islands)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:10PM (#4036846)
    I'd tell you, but then the DMCA would require me to kill you.
  • by Typingsux ( 65623 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:14PM (#4036869)
    It made me decide on the APEX 600 at the time.

    Of course, I have had my player about 2 years at least.

    Here [vcdhelp.com]

  • Videolan Client (Score:5, Interesting)

    by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:17PM (#4036884) Homepage Journal
    Go here: Videolan Client [videolan.org].

    Works under MacOS X, Windows, and Linux. Does DeCSS automagically. Somehow always starts playing the movie immediately, skipping over the annoying FBI commercials and lame pre-movie commercials.

    Does subtitling, plays flawlessly under Linux, is GPL, plays DivX :-) format videos, and is just, in general, a great moving-video playback device.

    As another poster pointed out, hardware players are a crapshoot, but VLC is just about guaranteed.
    • Re:Videolan Client (Score:3, Informative)

      by Col. Panic ( 90528 )
      videolan is good, but i prefer ogle. menus work flawlessly and, like videolan, no fbi bs
    • Re:Videolan Client (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      No somehow about it, it's easy to tell which track is the main film, it's always the largest vob stream. On DVDs at this point, the movie is always stored seperate from all the other shit. You just load that vob stream and play it.
    • Re:Videolan Client (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Eil ( 82413 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:01PM (#4037234) Homepage Journal

      I just went to the VideoLAN page (this is the first I've heard of it) and noticed this in the ChangeLog:

      "This release fixes a bug preventing to read DVDs when the disc's region didn't match the drive's."

      Now, I happen to know of one media cartel^H^H^H^H^H^H association that would insist that that was a feature, not a bug. :P
      • I don't know about in the states, but here in Australia, ALL sony DVDs are region 0, but due to their status as an Evil Media Company The electronics deparment still must state in all documentation and on the device itself that it's region 4.
  • APEX 3201 (Score:5, Informative)

    by KillerEggRoll ( 582521 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:20PM (#4036896)
    Got mine from Kmart for $90. The APEX 3201 lets you hack it with just the remote control, no fumbling with flash-cd's and modchips. Just eject the tray, push 8 4 2 1, and a menu pops up letting you switch the region and Macrovision settings. Plus you can watch PAL dvd's perfectly (Monkey!). Of course the problem is you face about a 50% failure rate out of the box with an Apex (So I've heard). Plus there are a few dvd's that won't let you play them no matter the region setting. Which isn't really a problem if you consider which ones don't work (like the Patriot, bleh). So far my player works perfectly, so let's keep our fingers crossed it lasts at least a year.
    • Re:APEX 3201 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hypertex ( 165243 )
      Some DVDs(e.g.Stuart Little) didn't play on my AD600 either. I discovered that pressing PBC(playback control) on the remote so that it is off allowed the disc to be played.

      Hope this helped!
  • DVDCCA Licensing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RomSteady ( 533144 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:21PM (#4036899) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, there are licensing issues involved here on the media side.

    The DVDCCA license states that for region-coded disks, there must be one track that cannot be skipped. Most DVD publishers use that track for "required" legal verbage. Some place this chapter at the end of a movie, and use it to display the DVD authoring houses information. Some, like Disney, used it for advertising, and got quite a PR backlash for it. Newer Disney DVD's still have the ads, but have it as a seperate chapter so that you can skip them.

    That information about which track is which is stored as a script file on the DVD. The players simply read and execute that script.

    While it would be possible to do something like that (code something to skip required tracks), that same hack would break several of the fancier menu systems (Harry Potter extended DVD, etc.)

    Just remember that changes always have consequences you may not be aware of. (The tester's motto)

    • That would be reasonable if the author was asking for it to IGNORE the segments marked as "MUST PLAY," but in this case it's a matter of ignore the ignore FF button and chapter skip code.

      In that case, you have an end human sitting there making the final decision. Want to watch the FBI intro? All works as normal. Doesn't want to watch it? Skip it. Chances are they'll leave the Harry Potter intro alone, as it's what they paid to watch. I don't pay the FBI anything, as a Canadian citizen, so I don't really care to see their warnings :)
      • In all honesty, I agree with you. It could be that simple. Unfortunately, we've seen too many instances where minor variances from the standard have rendered disks completely unusable by certain players (Snow White and The Matrix are very good examples - both use slight tweaks of certain DVD instructions, and as a result, both have problems playing in certain players).

        It's even worse now that some region-coded disks are querying the box as to which region they are in, and if they are reporting region 0 (unlocked boxes), they're refusing to play.

        As I said, everything has consequences...usually unintended.

    • The DVDCCA license states that for region-coded disks, there must be one track that cannot be skipped. Most DVD publishers use that track for "required" legal verbage.

      That's horseshit. There's no such requirement.

  • Most of the low end DVD players are based on Zoran's chipset. WHile they have a few variations they seem to be pretty much the same.

    Some can easily be changed to ignore region codes, or set to specific regions. Most support playing MP3s and atleast mine, always lets me skip a chapter.

    While I can't fast forward past the FBI warnings I can hit the end of chapter button and skip it that way. Generally this gets me right the the credits...

  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:33PM (#4036948)
    It's pretty simple but it works for the rest of us who bought regular DVD players...

    Just go to the chapter menu and start watching from Chapter 1. The FBI warning's usually fixed between the main menu's play option and the first chapter. Skipping direct to the chapter usually skips the warning.

  • Apex AD1500 (Score:2, Informative)

    by NiGHTSFTP ( 515896 )
    I have one, my sister has one, my neighbors bought one after I told them about it (they were also looking for one).

    There is firmware available to make it Macrovision Free, Region Free, and RCE Immune(sp).

    I did it to all three players, no problem.

    Best part? They all work very well, and are dirt cheap ($60-80).
  • Philips DVD players (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:42PM (#4036979)
    It's been discontinued for a bit, but Philips' DVD825/DVD825AT gladly allow you to fire up fast forward to skip through "remote lockout" content.

    On the plus side, many of their other DVD players offer the same functionality. If there's a major company out there that's friendlier than most to consumers, it's Philips.
  • They still do that? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Col. Panic ( 90528 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:42PM (#4036981) Homepage Journal
    Wow. I feel spoiled. I haven't seen an FBI warning for so long because the only movies I watch are on DVD using ogle [chalmers.se]. Come to think of it, I don't really miss those warnings ...
  • You can get a cheap HTPC (home theater PC) setup if you have a vid card with TV out and a software DVD player that can disable Macrovision and region encoding, but the quality is not up there. Personally, I'd recommend getting a Realmagic Xcard with remote from (www.sigmadesigns.com). It's a hardware MPEG-1/-2/-4 decoder, and it has S-video and digital coaxial sound output, and it comes with a S-video to component cable to free up an S-video input on your TV. I'd couple this with a nifty tool called Remote Selector (www.remoteselector.com) which makes the Xcard and other hardware DVD decoders region free, macrovision free, and disables user prohibition (I.E. skipping FBI warnings and studio intros).
  • Possible solutions. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kufat ( 563166 ) <kufat AT kufat DOT net> on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:55PM (#4037019) Homepage
    All of these work on some discs, but not all discs. Your results may vary, but they've all worked for me on various DVDs.

    1. Hit stop twice and then hit play. This may bring you to the beginning of the movie.

    2. Some "protected" sequences only protect against "fast forward" or "skip forward" but not both. Try both, and both menu buttons.

    3. Some DVD players allow you to skip directly to the title and chapter of your choice. My Toshiba does.

    4. Some DVD players allow you to disable the menus entirely (PBC off.) Again, my Toshiba does, and many HK players do too. Look in the config menu.

    Hope these help.
  • by _bug_ ( 112702 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:58PM (#4037025) Journal
    I purchased an Apex AD-703 a little over a year ago and it was the best (and most lucky) purchase I've ever made.

    What puts Apex above the rest is the ability to flash update the BIOS of the player. There are
    many [nerd-out.com],
    many [yahoo.com] resources for hacking the Apex BIOS. This includes a great utility that's been developed called
    EZ Patch [yahoo.com] which allows users to create custom BIOS images for their APEX players. Among the many modules for EX Patch is the ability to make the player region free and the ability to bypass the "locks" on DVDs that keep a user from skipping over the previews and other such items.
  • by TheRealBrewer ( 415458 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @09:59PM (#4037028)
    The Sampo 631CF is easily made region-free and macrovision/GCMS-free. The problem you mention about navigating past or skipping the warnings etc. is generally called UOP for User OPerations. The Sampo can be easily patched to allow full user navigation control even when the dvd requests a UOP lock.

    Plus, the Sampo has many other great features such as the ability to play PAL and NTSC discs to EITHER a PAL or NTSC TV. It can play CDs full of MP3 or jpegs. In fact you can even easily hook up a spare hard disk to store and play your entire CD collection (as MP3s or WAVs). Or just put your jpeg pr0n collection on it. And it even has a compact flash slot on the front so you can pop in your latest photos or MP3s without having to burn a CD. You can also easily replace the default background screens as well.

    If you can burn a CDR, then you can hack the Sampo. The Sampo has a small but growing and enthusiastic user group. Everything you need can be found at, or linked from, area450 [area450.com].
  • by Fubar411 ( 562908 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:00PM (#4037229)
    I purchased a Daewoo 5800 from Sam's Club for a whopping $89! Then I went to Nerd-out.com to get the iso file necessary to make it both Region Free and turn off Macrovision. It does indeed turn off Macrovision, but I haven't tested the Region Free. For what it's worth, some DVDs reject Region Free players, but this one doesn't allow that. Some other benefits: -A very nice mp3 player screen -Component and composit outputs -Coaxial digital out -Nice silver finish despite its cheap price Now, some people sell them on Ebay, after doubling the price, but really it is easy. The only negative on this player is the remote doesn't work unless it is aimed directly at the player. A simple fix is a good learning remote.
  • The following indexes provide the Media with exemptions from FEC (campaign finance) law:
    • 11 CFR 100.7(b)(2)
    • 11 CFR 100.8(b)(2)
    • 2 USC 431(9)(B)(i)
    Wouldn't it be great if your favorite media company encoded the "required" track of a DVD with political propaganda? That way, we could pay for a strict 2 party system all the while being exempt from campaign finance laws!
  • You can try some of the pro level DVD players.
    Pioneer makes an industrial DVD-player DVD-V7400 [pioneerelectronics.com] that sells for about $800-900.
    It's badass in all the ways that it's almost wrong to have that much control and robustness.
    It plays back both NTSC and PAL disks (region 1 only ... blah)

    Has PS/2 port so you can used keyboard/ mouse for player control.

    RS-232C terminal connection for deck control. (yeah hook it up to your computer, write a control program, forget just skipping the fbi warnings. Watch movies in a totally different way.)

    Video black board support, with mouse connected, so you can draw on your movies.

    It has S video, YC component, coaxial Digital and Composit BNC or RCA out.

    Touch screen support.

    Hell, it even tracks and stores user selections!

    We have a few of them at work, I've never used any player that badass before, I'm thinking about buying one soon for an video installation project, where I am hoping to write a program that will do some fun random access video playback through deck control.

    But then again all that just to skip 12 seconds of FBI warning is a little bit on the over kill side, but you asked, and here's an option.
  • Apex, Sampo, and UOP (Score:3, Informative)

    by -=Zak=- ( 12712 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:16PM (#4037301) Homepage
    I have no idea what UOP stands for (User Operation Permittance? ). In any case, I think the latest hacked Sampo DVD Player firmware (also useable in most of the Apex models) includes a UOP hack. I'm running it on my Apex 660 and can skip directly to the main menu while the FBI warning (or all those friggin ads on the Disney discs) is up. It's WONDERFUL.

    And of course, you can disable macrovision, play MP3s (with a much better menu than the original Apex firmware), display JPG images, hook up a hard drive or compact flash unit, play discs from any region, etc. Check out the Nerd-Out forums HERE! [nerd-out.com]
  • Malata (Score:3, Informative)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:21PM (#4037315)
    I just picked up a Malata DVP-520. Great player. It is region free and you can set a region for the new discs that check. It does the best PAL to NTSC conversion of any player even close to its price ($250ish). A major feature of the PAL conversion is that it keeps the correct aspect ratio. It lets you zoom, stretch, pan, etc everything. It also plays MP3s, VCDs, and SVCDs.

    I love it. Oh yeah, it's progressive scan too.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Thursday August 08, 2002 @11:52PM (#4037424) Homepage
    • Put the DVD in the player
    • Do something else for a minute or two (channel surf, take a wiz, get a glass of coke, etc).
    • Return to the DVD player and there is the menu waiting for you.
  • Sampo DVE611 (Score:3, Informative)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:13AM (#4037476)
    I have a Sampo DVE611 - it's cheap and a fairly decent player. It's region-free (you can set the region). You can't fast-forward over the legal boilerplate, but you can hit 'next' to advance straight to the 'root' menu. Also handles MP3, VCD, and SVCD. It's got video, S-Video, and three plug (component?) output. It also has a screen saver (bouncing logo). Got it mail-order from 'Barrel of Monkeys'.
  • JVC DVD players (Score:3, Informative)

    by applef00 ( 574694 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:49AM (#4037565) Homepage
    The JVC XV-S500BK and XV-S502SL (they're the same player, but the 500BK is black and the 502SL is silver) will let you skip non-skippable areas. As a bonus, it also plays VCD, SVCD and MP3. It will display JPEG's on a CD, but very slowly. It will supposedly play PAL discs on NTSC televisions, but I haven't gotten around to testing this yet. There isn't yet a regionless hack for it. But my fingers are crossed. You can pick it up for ~$180 at any retail shop. Sometimes online for less.
  • by MicAttAck ( 16713 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @04:01AM (#4037916) Homepage
    I just yesterday finished with the same problem.
    Here is a post I made about this

    I have bought a new DVD-Player which
    has all the features I need. The Grundig GDV130 (a TYT / Scan2000 Clone).
    Read about it here:
    German [t-online.de]
    English [t-online.de]
    My personal experience with flashing that player: (only in german) here [dv-rec.org]

    There is a forum on Yahoo-Groups for the Scan2000/TYT Clones here [yahoo.com]. You need the latest Firmware and a tool called GSK2 from the files Section.
    With that tool you can make the Firmware Macrovision free AND Turn of User Prohibition.
    So now you can switch off subtitles which you sometimes aren't allowed, you can go directly to the Title-Menu. It's really neat.

    My new Grundig GDV130 DVD Player now has these cool features:

    - Regionfree (Remote-Control Code)
    - Macrovision Free (thru the new Firmware)
    - No User Prohibitions (I can now switch of those subtitles, or go directly
    to the title-menu without watching those nasty copyright notices)
    - Good SVCD/VCD Playback
    - CVD (China VCD Subtitles) with SVCD

  • by murk1e ( 415071 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @07:29AM (#4038184) Homepage
    I don't work for these people, not did I buy a DVD player from them (I gave my business to a local supplier).

    They have been online for several years to my knowledge, and the site seems regularly updated.

    They do their own mods, which instead of changing regions on the fly, allows you to select the region with a single keypress. This means that they tend to be slightly more pricey than a vanilla system.

    They also do macrovision disabled (a technology which prohibits use in home projection systems) and they do FBI warning disabled (the point of the original question).

    Codefreedvd [codefreedvd.com] is the site, using Google [google.co.uk] gets you exactly what you want, for example this 300 dvd [codefreedvd.com] sony (for UK power supply). They do ship around the world, you'll have to search for your own specs.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @07:42AM (#4038211) Journal
    Unfortunately, I have a player which obeys the commands of my discs without fail. Pop in a Disney movie (the worst of the lot) and you can't even press "stop." The only way to stop a Disney ad is to "eject" the disc from the player.

    Although I don't like the FBI warnings (why not put them at the end, like VHS?) the ads are awful. You _can_ get 10+ minues worth on Disney discs. Luckily, the movies are short and I do intend on re-burning them before my daughter is old enough to watch. No sense in making her sit through the extra ads.

    Copyright IP was explained to me when I was a freshman in college, many years ago, like a book. You buy your original. You can make as many backups as you like. You can have them anywhere you like. You can loan them out. BUT - like your physical book, it may only be used in one place at a time.

    If I had a book with 50 pages of ads in the front, I'm allowed to rip them out and throw them away. I can rip out the title page, or blacken the copyright notice. It doesn't change what I'm allowed to do, but I don't have to look at it.

  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @09:54AM (#4038842)
    I am baffled by the DVD complaints on slashdot.
    (Before you claim I'm a studio exec - you should know that I'm a [Li|U]nix SA in a different industry)

    Do people really think that if you pay a measly 18 bucks for a DVD that you own the unlimited usage rights to a $50million movie? You don't, you only own the right to look at it in a really limited way (hence the discount).

    Do you know why they include all the forced-usage and adverts on the DVD? BECAUSE YOU STILL BUY IT. Do you remember how much movies used to cost before DVD? A LOT MORE THAN THEY DO NOW. Why? The advertisements you say you don't want but buy anyway. When you buy a DVD folks, you enter into a bad, limited deal. Enter into a deal, live with the deal. (remember Micro$oft?)

    Let me recap:
    1) The ads serve to make buying the movies cheap enough that you can rewatch them over and over to save from reading books or spending time with your kids.
    2) You oppose the ads and the format but lack any real willpower to NOT make this complete leisure purchase.
    3) Because of #1 and #2 you are in a really tough spot because you are too cheap and/or lazy to really do anything but whine.
    4) The MPAA execs can't hear your whining over the din of your living-room TV and the constant clanging of the Blockbuster cash-registers.

    Translation: Until you make the tough decisions to live without constant video-entertainment the MPAA is a 10t more l33t than you and 0wns your fr33 t1me, d011ars, and your /dev/kids. . . get the point?. It really is that simple - and that difficult.

    [This space intentionally left burning]

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.