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Sony DVD to Region Free

This page sets out to describe how we were able to use Sony DVD players to play Region 1 training DVDs our USA affiliate sent us for free. (Or in fact any region code DVD - this is sometimes called a region free DVD player or a multi-region DVD player.)

Recently (Aug. 2007) we successfully used these steps on a Sony RDR-HX720 DVD Recorder - making it region free also. See notes below.

Blank Frank's site has a program which (among other things) turns the infrared port on your laptop (IrDA port) into an infrared controller. This would be nearly useless to us for this job, if it was not for the fact that it can send signals and codes which the standard controller cannot send. This program sends the file at selen.org's site which contains five codes, which are sent, each in sequence, twice, to your Sony DVD and this will set it to region free / multi-region. Here is how it worked for me:

1.      Get a laptop with an IrDA port - they nearly all have one now.  Many laptops respond to pressing the [F2] button during boot-up to enter the BIOS. In the BIOS, you may need to ENABLE the IrDA port, as laptops often ship with them disabled. Note which COM port the BIOS assigns - it will usually be COM2. Ensure this COM port is NOT the same as any serial port you may have in the laptop. In one case, I disabled the internal serial port and set the IrDA port to COM1, for the duration of this job.

2.      You will also need a floppy drive (not as common, these days!) or a bootable USB memory drive. It is beyond the scope of these instructions on how to make your USB memory drive bootable. The utility I used can be found at HPs site: Click here and then you may need to set up your laptop's BIOS to boot from a USB device - many laptops respond to pressing the [F2] button during boot-up to enter the BIOS and allow changes to the booting sequence. Others respond to [F12] by offering a menu of boot devices. 
As for a floppy: Make a DOS boot floppy for your laptop - (in XP, right-click on the floppy drive in "My Computer" and select Format. Then tick the box marked "Create an MS Startup diskette". Still got problems? - use Google or similar.

3.      Download the file from and save it. (http://www.selen.org/files/REMOTE.TXT)

4.      Download the file at http://www.veg.nildram.co.uk/remote13.zip from Blank Frank's site and have a read of the text, while you are there. You can ignore the instructions on how to make the hardware - we are going to use the IrDA port on the laptop.

5.      Use any Zip program like 7-Zip (http://www.7-zip.org/ ) to extract the files from remote13.zip to the floppy disk (or boot USB).

6.      Copy the REMOTE.TXT file you got from selen.org to the floppy disk (or boot USB).

7.      Shut down Windows and restart, leaving the floppy disk in the A: drive (or the USB memory drive in place) so that you boot up on one or the other. You are now in DOS and commands must be typed in, one at a time. (This is how we use to live all the time, until Windows). You mouse is redundant and your hard disk is probably invisible, if you use Windows XP. Don't worry - all will be good once you re-boot on your hard disk - nothing is harmed!

8.      Type WINSAMP followed by Enter. You should see a blue screen, mostly covered by dots, with the heading "Remote control test tool". At the bottom, you will see text like "button 1" to "button 40" in white.

9.      Press R to Read the file REMOTE.TXT (remember, the one from selen.org?). As soon as you do, the "button 1" to "button 5" labels turn pink. This indicates that you have read the file successfully.

10. The instructions for the next steps are taken from selen.org with some small changes / details from me:

11. Make sure your DVD player is in standby mode and your IrDA port is within range and pointing at the front of your DVD. We did it with no DVD in the player, but I don't know if that mattered. We found a distance of about 50-60cms (2-3 feet) away from the player worked for us, using a Dell Latitude 510.

12. Run the IR codes from 1 to 5 by pressing Enter on each corresponding button. This means, use your cursor keys to move left and right over the text marked button 1, button 2, etc. Starting with the button 1 text inverted (pink with blue text) press Enter. Nothing appears on the PC screen - that is OK. Now use the right arrow key to move to button 2 and see the text is inverted (pink with blue text) press Enter. Repeat for button 3,4 and 5.

13. Your DVD player should start up and display the text "SUCCESS". If it does not show "SUCCESS" keep going. Some players don't show this. (For instance, the DVD Recorder tested in Aug. 2007 showed nothing - yet when these steps were ALL followed, it was set region free!) YOU ARE NOT YET FINISHED.

14. Having seen SUCCESS on the screen (or even if you have not), this next bit does not make sense at first, but just do it! Basically, you must repeat step 12 i.e. use your left arrow key to move the cursor back to button 1 and again starting with the button 1 text inverted (pink with blue text) press Enter. Nothing appears on the PC screen that's OK. Now use the right arrow key to move to button 2 and see the text is inverted (pink with blue text) press Enter. Repeat for button 3,4 and 5.

15. Some Sony players return to standby mode after this step. That is a great sign that things have worked. Skip step 16, in our experience. Others, which showed no reaction during the above steps, do nothing, giving you no hints. In this case, go to step 16.

16  If you get NO reaction during the above, try a DVD from outside your region, which previously would not play, to see if you have succeeded. If not - check your IrDA port is enabled (step 1), and is pointed at the DVD all the time each part of step 12 is taken.

17. Your player should now be now multi-region - we tested it on four players and one DVD recorder (RDR-HX720) and found it works.