Angry! I am angry!


29/05/2007Yes, I am an angry MacBook Pro user! Or should I say Mac user?
Why on earth do I buy a laptop? So that I can take it places with me, right?
Now when you go to different places and read DVDs belonging to different zones, MacBook Pros will only let you change the zone 5 times. Then, it’s locked. I don’t even know if it’s locked into the last zone you’ve ever read, or if it even means that you cannot read DVDs, period!
I happen to go to the UK at least twice a year, take my MacBook Pro with me and cannot read the DVDs I buy or borrow because of that feature. Why does Macintosh do that?

Apparently to please the movie industry, which still think they are in 20th century and that people do not travel. They don’t want you to choose WHERE you buy your DVDs, they want you to buy them in YOUR country.

They want to sell you a product and decide on which machine you are going to use it.
Find this natural?
Well, imagine you buy a washing-machine and on the Instructions, they tell you

Warning! You can only change detergent brand 5 times. By the fifth time, you won’t be able to change any longer!

Would you find this normal? No, you just wouldn’t want that machine brand.

With laptops, you don’t have a choice. They all are all equipped (!!!!) with this feature!

But in this case, and I guess it’s the only compliment that I’ll pay PCs, Windows is better. There ARE fixes and hacks to get rid of the zoning process.
Of course, they are illegal.
But it isn’t illegal for the movie industry to sell you stuff and choose how and where you are going to use it. 😦

So what is left for someone like me?
Only watch French-made DVDs? Get into pirating (which is not exactly my cup of tea)?
Get a PC laptop, viruses and all, and hack it?
Any suggestions?

16 thoughts on “Angry! I am angry!

  1. To stop watching DVDs? 😉
    It’s unhealthy, after all. TV is a mind-numbing hobby.

    Go back to your lovely books, Claude. 😀

  2. Just last night I had my son download the DVD I have been waiting YEARS for. Now we’re in Canada so it’s not illegal here. We’re Mac users since Macs began and going to stay that way. We just don’t like to pay for what we can get for free. But I do have to say that I usually wait until any movie is on my cable service provider’s free movies list. It’s just that I’ve waited sooooo long already …
    I don’t think that’s what you wanted, Claude, but that would be my solution.

  3. We have this problem with US/UK dvds. It is really really annoying! I won’t put a non UK DVD in my laptop (owned by my employer) now for fear that it will lock.

    I feel your pain.

    I say go for the illegal fix, but that’s me, I’m a rebel. 😉

  4. I was able to hack my DVD player to be region free by following instructions left in the first product review on i suspect the manufacturers know it’s ridiculous and plant the hack instructions. So I’d keep looking on how to make the laptop region free. Try Matt’s suggestion, maybe check the Amazon reviews of your laptop and keep looking.

  5. Sorry I don’t know ebough to give you any suggestions but i do hope you find a solution quickly. Manufacturers can be bl**dy annoying for no good reason can’t they?

  6. Claude: This problem is also found in Windows machines, so Macs are not to blame.

    The reasoning is simple. Publishers of DVDs make use of differential pricing across regions to make disproportionate (or extortionate) profits in some regions over others. This was easy to do when the web did not make things so transparent. Now it is harder and serves only to piss people off.

    And of course, we are blaming the machines when in reality it is the monopolistic behaviour of the rights owners that we should be complaining about. The solution for that would be to boycott DVDs – and may be the web is a place to organise such a week or day of boycott until the rights owners start selling DVDs that will work in all zones.

    Now every electronics store will sell DVD players with an override for an extra 50 quid. Yes, the warranty is void from then on, but when did any of us last take our DVD player to an electronics store or the manufacturer to get fixed anyway? Sony is now shipping a multi-region DVD player.

    But for computers, a firmware fix is the only way out. So Matt has given you a great idea. Unless the stupid OS makers figure that they could do it themselves and save themselves a lot of bad press..

  7. As several of you mentioned, flashing the firmware IS the solution, but it just won’t work on my MacBook Pro because I installed Leopard on it.
    And yes, Windows have the same limitation, but there are quite a few pieces of software out there that will do the dezoning job on a pc, when on a mac, it’s really quite a lot of work.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply here.

  8. Zoning, eh. I wonder if we have that over here in Canada and the US. I actually hadn’t heard of it. Like I said, we’re on the shady side…

  9. Gosh, that’s terrible, Claude. My vote is….get a new laptop with Windows. You should be able to have choices and options and it certainly doesn’t sound like Mac allows that.
    Therefore, I don’t see that any loyalty to them is necessary.
    I don’t blame you at all for being upset! Let us know what you decide.

  10. @ Richard Orlin, thanks, I have tried, but it doesn’t work on my MacBook Pro 😦

    @ naomi, I feel that I am being pirated, not being able to read DVDs that I have bought quite legally!

    @ Monica, zoning is worldwide. You only realise it when you travel and buy a DVD on location and find that you can read it on your mac, only by changing the zone!

  11. Hey man, yeah this has been a niggling problem ever since laptops became mega-portable, however if you own the original DVD, then it is perfectly legal to make a ‘backup’ for personal use, so long as you don’t sell the original, not only does this not break the international DMCA laws on copyright, but it solves your program. DVD backup utilities like DVD Decrypter, (not sure if there is a mac version of this particular program, however there will be freeware like it for mac) backs up your DVD’s, removes the CSS encryption AND removes ALL regional restrictions, meaning you are free to view them anywhere. As a bonus if you buy DVD’s in the UK but your laptop is set to region 6, and you don’t want to physically burn a backup, you can rip an ‘image’ of a disc with DVD Decrypter (or similar program) and then ‘mount’ this disk on a virtual drive, using a program like ‘MagicDisk’ this allows you to watch the movie without the region hassle, and once your done, you can either burn the image to disk, and have a backup playable anywhere in the world, keep it on your harddrive, or delete it, I hope this helps! Dale.

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