Why do they do that?

Some years ago I reviewed Sony Minidisk deck. Nice unit, but I was confused in that it had more optical connections than it was supposed to, and fewer coaxial ones. Later it was revealed that the device I had in my hands on was the Japanese version, which was physically different to that sold in Australia.

That experience stood me in good stead a couple of years later. I had reviewed a Sony home theatre receiver, and marked it down somewhat for failing to have an on screen display. A reader wrote in, furious that I had written such a silly review. After all, he noted, there was an actual button on the actual front panel that invoked the OSD. How could I have missed that?

Indeed, how could I? As it happens, I hadn’t missed it: it hadn’t been there. The review unit was an overseas model which did lack an OSD (and its front panel button).

In the previous post I noted that I am reviewing a Sony BDP-S470  Blu-ray player. Well, that review is now aborted. I had mentioned that ‘the player is set to Region A, so I can’t run some of my usual test discs’. But this evening I have discovered that this understates the case. In fact, the player is an American one.

One of the oddities of the 50/60 hertz divide in the world is that, these days, most equipment sold in 50 hertz countries is also happy with 60 hertz content. After all, most equipment development actually takes place in 60 hertz countries (eg. South Korea, Japan and the US). But for some reason, quite a bit of equipment sold in 60 hertz countries is completely incompatible with 50 hertz signals.

And so it is with Sony. I had heard that its PS3s and Blu-ray players sold in the US do not support 50 hertz signals at all.

Tonight I popped into the Sony player my DVD-RW which carries my PAL 576i50 torture test clips, and again I got a ‘Cannot Play This Disc’ message (the previous time this had happened, I assumed it was a region code problem). Oh, oh. This wasn’t a region coded disc. It simply could not player a 50 hertz DVD. So I popped in Miss Potter Blu-ray disc. This played the Icon Home Entertainment logo fine (this is 1080p24), but when it got to the menu — which is in 50 hertz format — it just stopped playing.

This is definitely a US player. Presumably there are a lot of similarities, but how I am to know what they are?

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1 Response to Why do they do that?

  1. Simon Reidy says:

    How ridiculous that manufacturers and the Blu-Ray consortium haven’t used Blu-Ray as an opportunity to tie nations together with truly universal players and discs. I really did assume that the move to high def would day away with all this mult-region 50/60hz BS and the stupidity of region codes. However it seems to be as bad as it’s ever been.

    We’re actually in a better position in Australia in that at least we know any player bought here will support both 50hz and 60hz playback, where as American players seem to be a mixed bag on whether they’ll support 50hz. Seems pretty stupid as most collectors must surely have at least one two European/Australian imported DVDs in their collection.

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