On Tuesday I saw a bit about SyFy planning to remake the late 70's BBC series Blake's 7. It's a sci-fi series kinda-sorta-like Star Trek, but with a totalitarian federation. I watched most of them on PBS in the late 80s and quite enjoyed them.
I decided to look into getting the show on DVD but discovered that it was only released for region 2, which won't play on DVD players in the USA as we're region 1. You can read up on region codes here. It's possible to get multi-region players (my folks have one from when they lived overseas), but I didn't wish to acquire one for just one show. Some research let me know that I could switch the Mac's DVD drive to region 2 and then switch it back. You're limited to 5 switches per drive though, so the drive will be locked to the 5th region you set it to.
I decided that wouldn't be an issue as I could set it to region 2, rip all the episodes, then switch the drive back to region 1 after I confirmed that the rips were OK. I tracked the series down on Amazon (seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4) and ordered them. They arrived today. I was surprised to see that they were from the Netherlands, with all the text in Dutch:
I put the first disc in and sure enough, the DVD Player started and the Drive Region dialog popped up:
I then got to thinking that Handbrake (ripper) and VLC (player) might not care about the region codes, as they're open source projects, so I hit cancel - the Mac ejected the DVD. To prevent the DVD Player from starting up again when I reinserted the disk, I went into the System Preferences and changed it so that the DVD Player wouldn't launch automatically when a disc was inserted:
I put the disc in and launched VLC - it played it back just file. It was interesting to see the copyright warning in Dutch. The show is in English, with optional Dutch subtitles:
I then launched Handbrake and ripped the first chapter of episode 1 just to see if there'd be any issues. Worked just fine:
I noticed right off that the show looked much better than I expected. I opened up an episode of BlackAdder, for which I have Region 1 DVDs, and compared it with Blake's 7:
The NTSC image is 635x480 (304,800 pixels) while the PAL image has 30% more detail at 688x576 (396,288 pixels)!