The Sharp BD-HP20U "Modded" Region B Blu-ray Player - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 04-25-2009, 11:30 AM
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Default The Sharp BD-HP20U "Modded" Region B Blu-ray Player

I starting think and researching when I saw this thread "Problems (Sharp BD-HP20)", where our member Funployee accidentally updated his U.S. Sharp BD-HP20U player with firmware from the Sharp Australian site, which the player happily accepted, but turned it into a locked Region B player, unable to play Region A blu-rays.

There are a lot of great Region B locked Blu-ray titles out there, unable to play on players sold in the U.S. and Canada. The "top menu" trick works for some titles on Panasonic BD30/50/35/55 players; see this thread for details. And I have an LG BH200 I recently acquired that can be modified for Blu-ray region coding through the remote. An while the LG BH200 is an excellent player, it is comparatively expensive as it can play just about any optical disc known to mankind and so a bit of a waste to me as all I would use it for is Region B blu-ray; I am quite happy with my Toshiba XA2 and Samsung BD-P2500 as my primary HD DVD/DVD and Blu-ray players. So, a Region B Blu-ray player for around $100 would fit just perfectly, and I found one in the SharpHP20U.

The current firmware for the Sharp HP20 worldwide is version 1.16, aka HU8100900 and the player will not accept an update to the same or previous firmware, so you want to avoid getting a refurbished model that most like has been updated to the current firmware. I picked up an open box return in an online auction for under $100 and it had FW version HU7102300, most likely the original FW. I decided to go with European firmware, as the it would change the player to DVD Region 2 in addition to Blu-ray Region B, while the Aussie FW would most likely change it to DVD Region 4, and my modest collection of import DVDs are all from Europe, Region 2.

You can get the European firmware from Sharp UK:
http://www.sharp.co.uk/page/downloaddrivermanuals#

On that page you can select to download the UK firmware or E.U. version. I chose the Eurepean version which worked fine, but it did change the menu/on screen language to German. It was easy enough to change it back to English in the setup menu, but you can save that step if you just go with the UK version; you also have a choice of CD or USB version, I did USB. So, after updating my player with the European firmware, what did I find?

- Is the player now Region B Blu-ray? Yes! I tested Region B locked 'The Constant Gardner' and 'Stargate' from Germany and 'Taken' from the UK and they all played fine. I tested several region free BDs and they all played fine. I test Region A locked 'Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' and got the region error message (and the top menu trick doesn't work on the player).

- Is the player now enabled for PAL in addition to NTSC? Yes! In the setup menu, HDMI video now has the option for 'Auto' or 'PAL'; in component video, you have a choice for 480i/576i, 480p/576p, 720p, and 1080i/p. All the PAL content I tried showed it being unconverted to 1080p on my Panasonic projector and Philips LCD (both of which can accept PAL), but it would be best if your display can accept PAL input as some disc startup menus are in PAL and not upconverted - Stargate has the Studio Canal language choice startup menu in PAL, which is why I could never get it to play on a Panasonic player with the top menu trick.

- Is the player Region 2 DVD? Yes! I tried my Fox UK 'X-Files' Region 2 PAL DVDs and they all played perfectly, and looked excellent seeing them upconverted to 1080p for the first time.

How about the player itself? The player itself is a nice large, sturdy looking player. It is only BD Profile 1.0, so no PiP or BD Live capability, which is no loss for me. It is 1080p/24 capable, and detected my display's ability to accept that input in 'Auto' mode for HDMI. I set HDMI audio to bitstream for my Onkyo 605 receiver but unfortunately the player is apparently only capable of extracting the DTS 'core' from DTS HR/MA, which is the one downside to this player. I haven't tested it yet, but according to online reviews the player can decode TrueHD and bitstream it, but no decoding or bitstreaming for DTS HR/MA. I tried a few scenes from the UK "Taken' blu-ray which I had just watched the night before on the LG and in my opinion the PQ is every bit as good as the LG BH200. I watched the German 'Stargate' last night and was very pleased with quality. The Sharp HP20U is a keeper for me.

This European firmware trick will probably work for the newer Sharp HP21U which is BD Profile 1.1 and can bitstream DTS Master Audio, but in checking online auctions, they seem to go for at least twice as much as the 20U, so for me the HP20U hits the sweet spot for a secondary player for Region B blu-ray.

Last edited by Cochise; 04-25-2009 at 12:28 PM. Reason: correct typo
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:35 PM
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Can't wait to get mine!
I'm not into auctions though so I'm not sure where I will go to acquire one.
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:32 PM
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hey just wondering were you ever able to change your blue ray back to region 1. I did exactly the same thing
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monchi1977 View Post
hey just wondering were you ever able to change your blue ray back to region 1. I did exactly the same thing
I haven't really tried, but, no. You need a higher firmware version or the player tells you the current version is already installed and refuses to load it. The most recent firmware worldwide for the HO20U is HU8100900, released Oct. 29. If/when Sharp releases a newer firmware, it will be possible to change regions to wherever you download the firmware - Sharp USA/UK/Australia.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:05 AM
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Cochise this player will decode True HD. As for bitstreaming True HD, dont think you can as first requirement is HDMI 1.3 and this player has 1.1.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:53 AM
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the next model up bitstreams both codecs and can be modded exactly the same way according to Cheez.
so that's the one I'll be getting.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkadin View Post
the next model up bitstreams both codecs and can be modded exactly the same way according to Cheez.
so that's the one I'll be getting.


I gotta give props to Cochise. It was his expertise that got us through this.
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Old 05-17-2009, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkadin View Post
the next model up bitstreams both codecs and can be modded exactly the same way according to Cheez.
so that's the one I'll be getting.
Yep, the same procedure I outlined for the HP20U works exactly the same for the newer HP21U model

Actually, after further testing the European firmware apparently does NOT change the blu-ray region coding. It does enable PAL support, but the HP21U appears to remain set to Region A even with the European firmware installed. Sharp must have modified the design after the HP21U so that the region coding cannot be changed. Perhaps some prodding from the BDA?

Last edited by Cochise; 05-20-2009 at 05:46 PM.
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