Originally Posted by John Mason
Revived this to mention a current article
about the series author in the NY Times magazine section. It mentions a Jan. 8 Masterpiece Theater startup for the 2nd part of the series.
It starts in the UK on ITV1/ITV1HD in the next few weeks. It appears that the BBC will be scheduling the final series of Spooks (aka MI:5) against it. Suspect Downton will win. Personally I'll be watching Spooks live and Downton on my PVR (to avoid the commercial breaks)
Regarding all the posts above about the Blu-ray format, etc., for part 1: Surprised to read above someone imported a "region-free" Downton Blu-ray from the UK that worked on their PS3 BR-player/game-console.
Lots of UK releases are region free - particularly TV shows. Many UK BD releases, however, are 50i, as that is often the mastering format, and is the standard delivery format for all UK broadcasters who have standardised on 1080/50i HD Cam SR universally (1080/50i AVC Intra 100Mbs MXF files is the likely tape-less delivery standard being introduced quickly to cope with the global HD Cam SR stock shortage caused by the Japanese Tsunami)
Slighly unusually Downton was shot 25p, and the transmission version on ITV1 HD was 50i. The Blu-ray release was converted from the 25p origination format to 24p for Blu-ray mastering - presumably to allow the same disc master to be used in the UK and the US (but meaning us UK viewers are stuffed with a slow-down release)
In mainland Europe it is not unusual for TV shows to also have cinematic releases. Sometimes these are thus shot 24p and released 24p on disc, but it is also common for them to be shot 25p and released 50i on disc (presumably the cinematic release is a slow down?)
No such luck earlier this year when I ordered the 4-disc BR set of "Little Dorrit" from Amazon UK for my PS3 player. It was initially rolled out overseas as a region B (Europe) set, then later listed as region free. But the ads didn't mention it's apparently a 1080/50i (aka 1080i25) release.
Amazon and other suppliers often default to stating a disc is regionally encoded to the region it is released in without checking (it covers them - particularly for pre-orders where it isn't possible to check). A lot of discs that are advertised as Region B are not regionally encoded in reality. Once the disc has actually been released some suppliers will update their information with the correct regional encoding information.
However if you have a US player that doesn't support 50i and/or a display that doesn't support 50i then you won't be able to watch them.
If importing a UK TV show on Blu-ray, you should, as a default position, expect it to be 50i. That's what it will have been shot for, and that is what the master used by the broadcasters will be. It's relatively rare for a UK TV show to be released as 24p or 60i these days.
In the early days of Blu-ray most BBC UK releases were 1080/60i conversions to avoid issues with very early players sold in the UK that didn't support 50i content. Thankfully the days of the BBC releasing 60i converted content are over - no more mangled motion and conversion artefacts.
The 4 disc labels only read 1080i, and didn't work on my PS3. So it's region-free only if you have a multiregion player/setup. Mentioned further details in a Amazon UK thread
. Returned two sets to Amazon UK for a refund, one a unsuccessful corrective 2nd shipment. -- John
Err - Region-free is Region-free. Just because your equipment isn't compatible with the region-free disc you bought doesn't mean it isn't region-free. You just don't have equipment compatible with 1080/50i region-free content.
They are two different things.
Regional encoding restricts playback to the region your player is registered for. It's tricky to get round this on standalone players (DVD regions are much easier to cope with). However watching BDs on an HTPC is an easy solution to multi-region viewing.
There is also 50Hz compatibility, which is nothing to do with regionalisation. This is an equipment limitation.
Many European TV releases will be 1080/50i (with some rarer 720/50p releases as well). If your Blu-ray player won't play 50i content (either coded for your region or not coded for any region) then you can't play it. Similarly even if your player can play it, but your TV can't display it (and your player doesn't convert to a format your TV can display) you are also out of luck.
In Europe we have it better in this regard. All of our HDTVs can display 50 and 60Hz content (there is a licensing standard that mandates this and in reality every mainstream manufacturer licenses), and all of our Blu-ray players (including PS3s) will replay 24, 50 and 60Hz content. This is because you can expect to find 24, 50 and 60Hz content on Region B and European Region-free releases. We wouldn't ever think of this as being "multi-region" - as it isn't - it is still only Region B. Maybe "multi-standard" is a better way of describing this - though in reality in Europe this is never really used as a description as it is just standard to be able to watch PAL/SECAM/NTSC and 50/60Hz HD content on a regular HDTV. (Most will have PAL/SECAM/DVB-T and some DVB-T2, DVB-S/S2 satellite and/or DVB-C cable tuners as well)
I suspect in the US it is not common to find 50Hz content on US Region A releases, or US Region-free releases, so you can't expect compatibility with 50Hz Region-free releases.
However if you have a suitable Region-A player that IS compatible with 50Hz Region-free content, and a display that is compatible, there isn't an issue?