I am in the US, and I have relatives in Italy who sometimes send me their home movie DVDs in PAL format. I have a Philips DVD player that I made region free and so far it seems to be working fine.
Since I am still in the standard definition stone age, I'm looking for a DVD recorder that can record the incoming video and play back the PAL DVDs I get from relatives.
Can anyone recommend a DVD Recorder that has a region free hack?
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I don't understand.
1) Homemade DVDs are already region free.
2) Are you actually able to watch these region free, PAL discs played in the Philips machine or your television?
From what I can tell the region free players can playback PAL discs on an NTSC monitor (set).
For example I'm looking at the Insignia NS-DVDR1.
There are no current DVD recorders that can play homemade PAL discs on an NTSC television in USA/Canada (like I assume your Philips DVD player does for you).
DVD recorders as a general rule cannot be hacked to multi-region, and will not convert formats for playback like a Philips DVD player.
Six years ago, DVD and DVD/VHS recorders made by JVC would play homemade PAL DVDs on an NTSC television, however these machines are unreliable and most second-hand units have problems. You could try looking for a DR-MV5s in thrift shops or on eBay, but I wouldn't recommend it.
The only easily-available multiregion DVD recorders are expensive DVD/HDD models made by Panasonic, the most popular being DMR-EH59, which sells for about $379 from dealers like B&H Photo/Video. Note however these do NOT have tuners for North American broadcasts: they only record via line input from external tuners like a cable box, satellite box, or ATSC box. Also be aware that "multi-region" does NOT always mean "will play PAL dvds on an NTSC television, and vice versa." For example, the Panasonic DMR-EH59 is multi-region in the sense that it can record or play in both PAL and NTSC, depending on the line input or loaded disc, but you get out what you put in. If a PAL dvd is loaded, it will play as PAL, which will not be viewable on most North American televisions. The EH59 will not convert PAL dvds for viewing on an American TV, like your Philips player.
And to be clear, when shopping for DVD hardware keep in mind what hech54 said: homemade DVDs have no region code, so you don't need a "region-free" unit to play them. What you DO need is what you already have: a Philips player that can convert PAL dvds to NTSC on-the-fly while hooked up to an American TV.
Friends and family in Europe have an easier time: most televisions sold in Europe since 1998 have built-in converters to accept an NTSC signal and display it as pseudo-PAL. People in Italy should be able to play NTSC discs you record for them in America. If they are having problems, they need to buy a newer television, or they need to buy a NTSC>PAL converter box that attaches between DVD player and TV. If they don't want to do that, and would rather have you record PAL dvds for them, you don't have many options. All North American TV is in NTSC format, which can only be recorded as NTSC even if you have a recorder like the Panasonic EH59 that can also record in PAL. The only practical way to record American TV onto PAL dvds for friends in Europe requires three separate pieces: a DVD recorder that can record in PAL, an NTSC>PAL converter box, and an external tuner (cable box, satellite box, or ATSC box). You tune what you want to record on the tuner box, which passes the NTSC signal to the converter, which feeds the converted PAL signal to your PAL recorder. I have friends who do this, it works OK but the converter causes noticeable degradation to the video quality. NTSC converted to PAL doesn't look so good, but its watchable if you're mostly recording typical TV shows for friends in Europe.
Things are very simple if you just want what you had at your parent's house: ability to play homemade Italian discs in America. Just buy the same player your parents have, or a similar Philips: most Philips players are easily hacked to multi-region and will convert PAL dvds to play on American TVS. New Philips players sell for $39-49. If you want to be able to record just for yourself, any DVD recorder you find on sale will be OK (and yes, you do need a separate player and recorder). But if you want to make PAL discs for friends in Italy, you'll need the setup I described above, which will easily run $500 or more. Not to be rude, but since you're doing the favor of recording stuff for your Italian friends, the least they can do is buy a new TV that can play NTSC videos. Unless you're wealthy, it isn't your responsibility to spend all that money on a multi-format recorder and a converter box. Your friends get the benefit, they should fix things on their end: its easier and cheaper in the PAL country than the NTSC country.
Last edited by orsetto; 10th May 2012 at 10:39.
In addition to orsetto's fine comments, I'd like to point out that all the manufacturers of DVD recorders have abandoned the USA and Canada due to lack of interest (99% of the public prefers DVRs). We've had reports that the last manufacturer still supporting the North American market for DVD recorders will leave it this year or already has left it (reports vary). So basically you just have to buy whatever recorder you can get and worry about DVD region free playback as a separate issue. There is almost zero interest in the USA/Canada in keeping recordings of anything, so that's why nobody wants DVD recorders.
Totally agree with the last two posts, in your case I'd just purchase one of the sub $50 players that play a PAL DVD and output in NTSC. JVC and Pioneer are two of the best most commonly available players but as you know Philips is also known to work. After you have a good player you could look for a decent DVDR but as jman98 said DVDRs are basically dead so don't expect a lot of selection, mostly used.
If your trying to save space and kill two birds with one stone, unfortunately as the others have said it really can't be done(at least without resorting to old rather unreliable DVDRs).
Gotcha, makes sense.