10342 Views 2 Replies Latest reply: Apr 13, 2008 9:16 PM by very fast ride
Yes, you can play PAL DVDs. The potential stumbling block is the Region Code, if it is a commercial disc. The region code is a marketing construction, rather than a technical requirement. When you first use a DVD drive, the drive is initialized to the geographic region where you live.
The film industry often releases their films in different parts of the world at different times to maximize their sales potential. Normally, you can not play a disc with an EU region code in a drive that has been initialized to play North American region code discs. You can switch the region code of the drive a few times with system set-up. Unfortunately the number of times you can switch your region is restricted by the hardware in the drive.
A home-made or commercial DVD for international markets will not have a region code restriction.
Note there is software available that can process DVD data to remove the region code or firmware flash updates for some DVD drives that makes them, "region free." Depending what country in which you live, defeating region restrictions may or may not be allowable. Not all countries are party to agreements on region restrictions. The legal aspects are outside the scope of this article, so I recommend checking Google for more information.
Assuming region code is not an issue, the MacBook will scan-convert the video on the DVD as needed to match the MacBook display. Depending on source, DVDs may use three different frame rates: 24 fps for film source, 25 fps for PAL or SECAM video source, and 30 fps for NTSC video source. The MacBook display is refreshed at 60 progressive fields per second, so you'll get best looking video from 30 fps, next best from 24 fps discs (4:3 pull down ratio) then 25 fps discs.
You'll get the best looking playback on a monitor whose scan rate is an integral multiple of the disc's frame rate. 60 Hz scan for NTSC, 50 or 100 Hz scan for PAL, and 72 Hz for 24 fps discs from film source. On a MacBook, you'd need an external monitor or projector for optimum results.