If you’d like to play out-of-region DVDs on your MacBook Pro, you’ve been out of luck. The manufacturer of the drive, Panasonic, made it impossible to read data from out-of-region discs, blocking the usual workarounds like VLC. Anyway, it’s finally been fixed. You’ll need region-free firmware from here, plus DVD Info X to make sure it worked, and Region X to manually switch regions.

Finally, I can watch DVDs legally purchased in other countries, mostly the UK. Still, if you have a choice, avoid region 1 DVDs. NTSC picture quality is lower resolution than PAL (20%) and the pulldown inherent in the system can cause issues too.

HD? Well, the manufacturers are having a Big Stupid Format War to the benefit of nobody in particular. Most of the industry seems to be backing Blu-ray, and though it’s technologically better (higher capacity) than HD-DVD, the latter made better decisions on the content side (no region coding, better audio and frame rate support). Blu-ray is more expensive to produce and doesn’t handle 1080p25 footage like HD-DVD can.

Plus, I can author an HD-DVD on a DVD-R today, straight from my HV20, and it plays on my Mac. I’m stuck. I want the features of HD-DVD with larger Blu-ray size discs. I’d also like to enjoy the fair use provisions that we all enjoy with DVD, but you don’t want to get me started on the DRM inherent in both systems.