Sunday, February 23, 2014

Panasonic DMP-BDT130 Blu Ray Player In Sort Of Semi Region Free Shocker

I've recently had to replace an ageing  (for ageing read knackered) blu ray player, unfortunately my first choice Oppo was out of reach. Instead I settled on the Panasonic DMP-BDT130, a decent if seemingly unremarkable slab of consumer electronics.

The huge drawback of this player (like most) is that it's locked to region B for blu rays, meaning many of my import discs are unplayable on it. Or so I thought!

The player can be purchased from various outlets in a modified form allowing multi region playback, but this comes at considerable cost. Another option is "enhanced firmware" which will doubtless render your warranty useless and again doesn't come cheap. As it turns out neither option is necessary, as a simple sequence of button presses results in the player playing any blu ray you care to throw at it. When I say simple I mean simple, not like some remote control region hacks that require finger dexterity beyond the limits of reason. Press two buttons and that's that, region free nirvana!

Insert your region A blu ray, in this case Blue Underground's release of Django (the only one of their blu rays to be coded), and wait for it to spin up. Once it has done you will see an onscreen message complaining of a region mismatch as below.

When this happens press stop on your remote (one down and one to go), the message will disappear and then you need to press the Top Menu button. The player will spring back into action, and load the disc, and that's all there is to it.

Django menu
Title card while playing

I have no idea how this has slipped through the net at Panasonic, but it seems unlikely to be accidental. It's something I've never come across before and qualifies as a fantastic bonus. It was something completely unexpected and really sweetened the pain of having to buy a replacement. So if you find yourself in a similar position of needing a new player with a region free option, this is going to be pretty hard to beat.

It seems to work across the full range, and I can confirm it works on the much more expensive mid range 330 model. I suspect it will also work on the brand's previous models in the same series, but cannot confirm that. Curiously it doesn't work with dvds, though this is pretty easy to circumvent with a remote control device available on ebay for around £12 which will make it region free for dvd. I see no reason why this wouldn't work on players from other regions such as the US, to allow region B playback. If anyone can confirm this please leave a comment.


Wes Moynihan said...

That's a fantastic bonus Mart, a great discovery ! My landlocked Panasonic is a BD35 but I'm tempted to try it out regardless. I thought I could live with a B player alone but in the end I caved in and got a modified player and it wasn't cheap compared to a regular player. And the thing is, I don't use it that often, and when I do it's mostly Criterion discs. I'm thinking Django's region-lock was probably forced on Blue Underground - I know the BFI and Masters of Cinema are often obliged to region code their releases.

A hero never dies said...

It's worth it though for those Criterions Wes. I'd be interested to know if it does work on a completely different gen of Panasonic player. Out of interest do you have to actually switch region with your mod?

A. said...

Glad you aren't region bound! In Canada, I own a Seiki Blu ray 660D. (two in fact). They are not the most dependable machines (I've bought three in total now, first one remote stopped responding). They aren't the fastest blu-ray player, but that's never been a real issue for me.

They stopped making them, but they have a very simple code on the remote that after pushing four numbers, it lets you change the Region code of DVD to 0 and for blu-rays you can change to A, B, and C. Wish their was a regionless Letter!

Seiki has stopped releasing them and won't respond about them to me through e-mail, but I occasionally see some still for sale at Wal-mart. I have no worries about losing ability to watch Criterion, but I still want to watch quite a few Arrow Films, BFI and Masters of Cinema discs in the future. Only problem is expensive shipping.

Wes Moynihan said...

The mod player is switched by the remote control, but it's always switched to A as the player underneath, is B so I'm going between the two depending on the disc...

A hero never dies said...

A. I've never heard of that brand, but I'm sure the same player will have been re-badged over here at some point. Few things are very dependable these days, so I don't really worry about that side of things and it's the same with the speed, if I'm about to watch a two hour movie I don't mind an extra thirty seconds to load the disc.

The three companies you mention have raised their game as far as their releases are concerned, especially Arrow, so it's great you have the option. I could help with the shipping maybe?

Anonymous said...

I've just bought a BDT130 to reduce the load on my region switchable player (and because it was very cheap). This "workaround" does not work with my player and the titles I have available.

This could be because Panasonic updated the firmware to close the exploit but it could also vary from disc to disc.

Unlike DVD, where it is built into the player, Blu-ray region coding is handled by software on the disc. This is why discs from different manufacturers look and act differently when they detect the wrong region.

So, the question is, we're you able to test this with discs other than Django? Particularly discs from other studios. If not, it would be wise to go slowly before investing in a lot of region locked titles.

Anonymous said...

Ignore that last comment - I've just noticed your follow up post.

Anonymous said...

I have searched HIGH AND LOW as to how to do this without a firmware hack or spending loads of money on a multi region blu ray! Your AMAZING! Thank you soooo much!!

Anonymous said...

Do you know if this also works with dvds?

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