I wrote this for another forum but I figure it could do some good here.
If you think I have missed anything, just post and I'll add it in.
HD-DVD Imports & You: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I import HD-DVDs?
A: Good question. There are many reasons why you may decide to import a HD-DVD title from a different country.Q: Will these work on *whatever HD-DVD unit I own*?
There are titles available overseas that haven't been released anywhere else in HD (for example: Band Of Brothers, The Machinist, Mulholland Drive, etc.)
There are titles that are exclusive to Blu-Ray in America but available on HD-DVD elsewhere (for example: The Prestige, Silent Hill, Terminator 2, Rambo, etc.)
There are titles that are only available in America on a HD-DVD combo disc while available elsewhere on normal HD-DVD disc (for example: Children Of Men, Hot Fuzz, etc.)
A: Yes, any import you buy should work on whatever HD-DVD unit you own. The only title I can think of off the top of my head that has some playback issues is Enemy At The Gates with HD-A1/X1 & HD-A3/A35 players.Q: But aren't these in the PAL format?
A: No, PAL/NTSC formats are a thing of the past with HD. Most movies are encoded in 1080p24 with the signal (50 Hz or 60 Hz) determined by the player.Q: But *my store of choice* has it listed at a Region 2/PAL release!
A: Again, there is no such thing as region coding with HD-DVD. Most of the time when a store has a title listed as PAL or some different region, it's because they just copy & paste'd the DVD info.Q: Do these movies have their original audio or are they foreign dubs with English subtitles?
A: I have yet to hear about a import title that doesn't have it's original audio. Every American made movies should have it's English audio. Now, that doesn't mean that every import is English friendly. There are some foreign films that only have it's original audio and no English subtitles. Do your research before you purchase a movie and check this thread over at High Def Digest which is very well maintained by kannisto Info on import HD DVD titlesQ: So, they have English audio, what about their packaging?
A: Almost all of the time the packaging is in the language of the country you purchase it from. Q: How about their menus?
Here's a photo of the back of some of the import HD-DVDs I own as an example. In the photo is The Machinist (Japan/Toshiba), Band Of Brothers Vol 1 (Japan/Toshiba), Mulholland Drive (France/Studio Canal), Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer (Germany/Constantin), The Prestige (UK/Warner Bros UK) and Terminator 2 (France/Studio Canal)
A: Same thing as the packaging but alot of Studio Canal movies have an English menu choice. Even if the title doesn't have an English menu, it usually isn't very hard to figure out what is what.Q: How about forced subtitles?
A: Some titles do have forced subtitles. Off the top of my head there's disc 1 in the Terminator 2 set, Serpico and some extras on other movies. The cool thing about Terminator 2 Disc 1/Serpico are that the forced subtitles are resizeable. On the Terminator disc you can just shrink them down to sit solely in the black bar or with Serpico you can shrink it down and push it to the bottom of the screen so it doesn't effect your movie experience so much.Q: What about this pitch correction/issue I've been hearing about?
A: Some of Studio Canal's releases have a "pitch issue" from where they corrected the PAL soundtracks to match the now normal video. The audio is 4% higher in pitch. Is this a big issue? Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some people don't even notice it, some people roll around the floor as if they have just been set on fire while screaming it sounds like Alvin & The Chipmunks. With me, I didn't notice anything was up until I got to the really high pitch noises (like the police sirens in Rambo or some of the ambient noise in Mulholland Drive) and even then it wasn't that distracting. It just felt like something was slightly off. I guess if you are a professional singer or if you have seen the movie a million times, it could be a problem for you but as always, YMMVQ: I'm now well informed, and I believe I want to partake in some import goodness. Where should I go?
Titles with this issue are:
Elephant Man, The
Rambo: First Blood
Rambo: First Blood Part 2
A: Depends on what you want.Q: VAT tax?
- If you are getting multiple titles from one region like the UK or France, the foreign Amazons are usually the best.
- If you are getting one title, a German title or a mismatch of titles from different regions, XploitedCinema.com (which is based and ships out of America) would be your best bet.
- Australia is worth checking out (specifically EzyDVD.com) due to their dollar being weaker than ours but they only have a handful of titles.
- If you are getting Japanese titles, it depends. For older titles, you usually can't do better than HMV Japan price-wise. For preorders/new releases, you should check out Amazon JP.
Be sure though when dealing with an actual overseas site to take in account VAT tax.
A: Value added tax. Most (not all) foreign sites have VAT tax (up to 22%) added into the list price. When you go to the checkout page (right before you confirm your order), it will see that the item is leaving their country (if you are located in the US) and the system will remove VAT from your overall price.Q: Well, now I'm addicted to importing. Where can I find info on newer releases?
The exact amount of VAT or even the inclusion of it depends on the store/country you are purchasing from.
A: http://hddvdformat.blogspot.com/ is a fantastic blog that usually breaks import news or you can check kannisto's thread here at High Def Digest. He is continually updating his list with current/upcoming titles and where you can get them from. Info on import HD DVD titlesQ: Anything else?
A: Yes, some misc things to know is:
- Most Japanese titles come in a normal DVD case instead of a HD-DVD case (although with the release of Band Of Brothers and other newer release, it seems the normal DVD case is getting phased out)
- Not every import looks like the latest summer blockbuster (mostly some of the older ones aren't fantastic but they are still better than their DVD brethren)
- Trend with caution before putting down the cash for a title. Don't be afraid to ask questions.