In the past, home entertainment for visitors in a new country typically meant watching local television, listening to local radio, and perhaps purchasing a local VCR and borrowing VHS tapes from libraries or video stores. While some countries still maintain expansive video libraries, technology has evolved, and expatriates have more options than ever for entertaining their families abroad. The following are some popular home entertainment options, as well as considerations and guidelines to think about when planning your move.
DVD and Blu-ray discs and players
DVDs and Blu-ray players have largely replaced VCRs. However, travelers who plan on packing their players should note that there might be a number of compatibility issues when operating video systems abroad.
Region codes are one of the main issues that foreign visitors must contend with when operating their DVD or Blu-ray player abroad. These codes are embedded within the contents of the disc, and they restrict the ability to play the disc to only players that share the same region code. For example, a DVD with region code 1 is designed to operate on players manufactured in Bermuda, Canada, and the United States.
DVDs and players use six codes numbered 1 through 6, each of which corresponds to a specific geographic area. Discs may use one code (single region) or a number of codes (multi-region), and must be played on players from the same region. Some DVDs are outfitted with every code (all region) or no codes at all (region free), and these discs may be played on players from any location.
Blu-ray players operate using a similar region-coding scheme; however, only three region codes—A, B, and C—are used, and region-locked discs typically use a single code. Increasingly, many discs are region-free, and therefore can be played on all players.
If you do not wish to keep track of region codes for discs and players, you may instead purchase a region-free Blu-ray or DVD player, which is designed to play discs from all regions.
Modern video game consoles are also typically region-locked for DVDs and Blu-ray discs; however most are region free for video games
While region-free discs and players are increasingly available and easy to find, many expatriates may find the task of packing up a library of discs and including them in a tightly regulated shipment a daunting one. Fortunately, there are much more convenient options for relocating your favorite films and shows!
One of the simplest methods for easily traveling with your favorite media is to use the digital download code included with most Blu-ray discs. These codes act as vouchers that allow customers to safely—and, most importantly, legally—download a digital copy of their purchase.
Digital vouchers can be redeemed at a variety of places including UltraViolet, and Apple iTunes. Many of these services allow customers to store their libraries online, and most also include options for purchasing digital copies of films directly. Increasingly, these digital libraries allow users to redeem all of their films and store them in one place; however, some film studios have their own proprietary digital download services. Most can be accessed abroad.
Once redeemed, films can be watched on a computer, tablet, or phone; or they can be streamed to a television using a video game console or smart TV. Apps are also available for stream boxes/stream sticks such as Apple, Roku, and Chromecast.
Written by James Cafferty, International Content Manager