Although most of us now use a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime, physical media still has a place in many homes.
Whether it’s a collection built in the pre-streaming era, or you prefer the security of owning the physical product, you’ll need a player for your DVD and Blu-Ray discs.
However, DVD and Blu-ray discs often come region-coded. Luckily, region-free DVD and Blu-ray players, which allow you to play DVDs and Blu-ray discs from around the world, are plentiful.
Why Buy a Region-Free DVD or Blu-ray Player?
A region-free DVD or Blu-Ray player ensures complete physical media compatibility. For instance, DVDs from North America come encoded as Region 1 DVDs and Region A Blu-Rays. While Blu-Ray discs are more commonly released as region-free or all-region, not all Blu-ray discs are region-free. Moreover, most DVDs remain region-locked.
The problem is that a region-free DVD or Blu-Ray player costs a premium. A region-free DVD player retails for about the same price as a region-locked Blu-ray player. Yet the advantages outweigh the price jump. Frequent travelers can pick up a DVD or Blu-Ray from anywhere and are guaranteed it will play.
A region-free player is also an excellent investment for fans of foreign films and shows. Plus, you can purchase the cheapest copy of a movie or series, if it’s less expensive in another country.
The Panasonic S700EP-K is an excellent region-free DVD player. Panasonic’s player sports 1080p upconversion via an HDMI output. Onboard you’ll find PAL and NTSC video signal switching. In addition to its HDMI output, there’s a front USB port for playing video files.
Although the player appears affordable, that is partly due to its lack of Blu-ray support. It also doesn’t come with a display on the front. While it excels at affordability, there’s no internet connectivity available either. However, the S700EP-K is still a great value DVD player.
If you value a front display with your region-free DVD player, then you should consider the Pioneer DV-3052. Like the Panasonic S700EP-K, this player is also sub-$100, making it one of the best affordable DVD players. The device can remember where you left off, too.
On the whole, DVDs are an older format, so, surprisingly, the DV-3052 supports other digital media, too. There is a front-mounted USB port. Using this, you can attached any USB storage and play your videos, display your photos, or even listen to MP3s.
The Pioneer DV-3052 supports HDMI, as well as the older RCA cable, too. If you connect via the HDMI output, then the player will upscale your DVDs to 1080p. There isn’t an HDMI cable included, though, so you’ll need to purchase one separately.
3. LG BP175
For region-free Blu-Ray players, the LG BP175 clocks in around the price of a standard Blu-Ray player. You get region-free Blu-Ray and DVD playback and 1080p video. Additionally, the BP175 includes a front-facing USB port for digital content via external hard drives and flash drives.
The player also supports internet streaming services, including Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, Hulu, and YouTube. This is thanks to the device’s wired internet connection via the included Ethernet port. As with most Blu-ray players, the LG BP175 uses Dolby audio technology.
The Sony BDP S3200 offers Blu-Ray and DVD playback plus streaming support. With the BDP S3200, you can stream from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. This makes it one of the best region-free Blu-Ray players available, especially as it comes with a built-in Wi-Fi connection.
Sony includes a front USB port for multimedia playback. Unfortunately, there’s no display on the device. However, it does support Miracast technology, so you can mirror your smartphone’s display to your TV using the S3200 player. The device comes equipped with HDMI Audio 7.1-channel output, too.
5. Sony S3700E
If you need 4K upscaling and 3D playback, the Sony S3700E region-free Blu-Ray player is the best device available. It’s loaded with a premium feature set. There’s 4K upscaling and 3D playback, as well as built-in Wi-Fi. This player supports a wide range of media, too. Alongside Blu-ray discs and DVDs, you can play CDs as well.
To expand your options even further, there is a USB port on the front of the S3700E. The device comes equipped with Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio for high-quality audio output as well. The Sony S6700 does sport PlayStation Now for playing games sans-console, and even supports the PlayStation DualShock 4 controller.
Which Region-Free Disc Player Should You Buy?
Although there are several options for region-free players, these are the best available. We’d suggest getting a region-free Blu-Ray player as opposed to a DVD player simply for the increased library. You’ll have access to region-protected Blu-Ray discs as well for just slightly more than a region-free DVD player.
Despite the options, you may still decide that you no longer need a physical media library. If that’s the case, you should check out the best tools for ripping DVDs and Blu-rays to your computer before dismantling your collection.