A few days ago I posted a note about how I had to give my first negative feedback after a poor eBay auction experience trying to buy a set of Tintin DVDs (see After six years, I just left my first negative feedback on an eBay seller…). As part of that process, I decided that what I really wanted was a DVD player that would let me play NTSC and PAL DVDs from any region of the world. Not a radical request, since there are a number of online stores — including Amazon — that list region-free DVD players for sale. After doing some online research, however, I decided that I didn’t want to pay the often $100 or more surcharge for turning a regular DVD player into a region-free unit, so I went back to eBay…
This time, I was in the market for a Toshiba SD-4900, a DVD player that has coherent, tested instructions for transforming it into a PAL-compatible multi-region DVD player online. The going rate on eBay, as far as I could ascertain, was about $75 plus shipping, which wasn’t too bad.
I bid on one, won it, and had the seller ship it to me via FedEx Ground. A big mistake. The unit arrived completely bashed in and the seller and I have spent about three weeks going back and forth with FedEx trying to file and process a claim against their standard insurance for shippers. Someone from FedEx came out to my house, took the box away for two days, then returned it and told me that the first phase of the claim was complete. Two weeks ago. Now we’re waiting for any additional steps at all, and about 75% of the time when the seller or I call to inquire about what’s going on, FedEx Ground’s team says that there’s no claim filed against the shipment and that it’s too late to file a report anyway.
We are persisting, and I’m expecting to get a full refund from the seller within the next few days. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, since that was destroyed, I went back to eBay (can you say “glutton for punishment”?) and purchased another Toshiba DV-4900, from a different seller with a very good rating. She shipped promptly (actually, as far as I can tell, she sent my order to an overstock fulfillment house) and when the box arrived, this time via UPS, it was the wrong DVD player she’d sent. Instead of the Toshiba DV-4900, it was actually a Toshiba DV-3950. The clever hacks to make the DVD player both PAL compatible and multi-region didn’t work. I tried it.
The very next morning, sick of all of this, I did yet another round of research and identified the Philips DVP-642/37 as an out-of-the-box PAL and NTSC compatible all-region DVD player. I purchased it through Amazon’s marketplace so I’d have a guarantee it would be the right unit and work, and ended up buying it from The Electronics Marketplace for about $80 plus $10 shipping.
This morning I sent the Toshiba DV-3950 DVD player back to the seller asking for a full refund: she hadn’t shipped what I’d purchased. This afternoon, while making latkes for Hannukah, UPS knocked on the door and the Philips unit was delivered. I plugged it in, marveling at how tiny the unit was, less than half the size of my older Toshiba DVD player, and then we watched The Bourne Supremacy and were impressed by all the Philips features.
What most impresses me is that my new Tintin 75th Anniversary DVD collection (not bootleg, the real thing!) that’s only for region two and in PAL format, worked perfectly on the player. Even more impressive, a data DVD that I’d burned from my Mac played fine too. And the unit also supports DivX, MPEG4, PhotoCDs, MP3s, VCDs, SVCDs, and just about anything else. Philips isn’t kidding when it says “you have it, we play it.”
Assuming that all the refunds work out, this will have been a long but interesting journey, with a really wonderful, highly recommended DVD player at the end of the path. Oh, the only lame thing is that the Philips included DVD remote control is the cheapest, most poorly designed remote I’ve seen in years…
Ready to buy one so you can finally watch all those PAL and foreign region NTSC DVDs sitting on the shelf, collecting dust? Please use this link: Buy A Philips DVP-642/7 from Amazon.com