How to buy the right DVDs

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Owning your own DVD has a number of benefits:

  • You can watch it as many times as you want;
  • You can lend it to your friends;
  • You can load it unto to your PC, cut scenes and replace their faces with your own pics (if you're into that);
  • You will always have the movie handy for whenever you forget that great line contained within;
  • It is always yours!

So buying a good DVD is important. The cheaper the DVD, the chances it was recorded on a thin, see-through disc that might scratch after its first play. These are usually coined 'Pirate DVDs', and mostly come from various Asian countries.

So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Well, here are the steps I follow when selecting a DVD to buy:

Step 1: Search for New Release DVDs (unless you are looking for a particular movie and know its name).

Step 2: Open another Internet page with your local DVD retailers' new release list which should contain release date, price and extras information. This is important because if the movie you are after has not been officially released, you are probably buying a 'screener' (a DVD of a movie filmed from the back seat of a cinema where you can see the bobbing heads of the crowd in front.

Step 3: Check the region code of the DVD you are interested in, and also check whether it's NTSC or PAL. Some players and TVs play both categories, but personally I prefer the PAL format as it has a better colour palatte and less pixelation issues. The Australian Region Code is 4, but some documentaries, music DVDs and sports DVDs come in a multiregional format.

Step 4: Whether the DVD is brand new or viewed once is not a critical option when buying. If the DVD is of good quality in the first place, it could be an ex-rental with 1000 viewings and still function perfectly well. I usually place either option or both in my Watch Folder and bid on the cheapest one later.

Step 5: Check the Postage & Handling Fee: some DVDs are sold for 5 cents but then you find out it has a $15 or more P&H fee! Before bidding make sure you know the postage costs. To post within Australia, I think anything more than $7 is too much.

Step 6: This is my personal taste: I like buying one version of a movie, so I make sure I am buying the fullest package available. I want more for my buck, so if I saw an ex-rental, one-disc version and a street version with two discs packed with bonus material, I'd buy the second version only. Make sure you are buying the version you want. If the description page has no information about the extras on the DVD, send the seller a question to make sure. Do not assume you are buying the same version you saw at the shops, for example, because they may use the same picture as the cover you saw, but the contents may vary- they sometimes photocopy the covers and sell recorded copies- badly recorded copies on cheap rewritables!

Step 7: Once you are satisfied you have found the movie, version and quality you want, don't bid on it straight away. Add it to your Watch Folder and, if you have time, send the seller a question (like if the DVD comes packaged in bubble wrap). This serves two purposes: A) To identify the seller, and his/her professionalism, and B) It shows you are interested in the product.

Step 8: See how much that same DVD is worth at your local retailer and compare it to the price plus postage you are being charged here. Sometimes it's cheaper just going to Woollies!

Step 9: Wait until the last half hour before the sale closes and make your bid. The person who makes the last, highest bid wins, so make sure you refresh constantly before the end of the sale. This way, you will not overbid and a seller's mate won't overbid your early-made bid to get a higher pay. Never pay more than you think it's worth just to win the bid!

Step 10: When the product arrives, make sure it is what you wanted before breaking the plastic seal. When you have the DVD disc in your hand, place it between your eyesight and a bright light and see the transparancy level. The higher the see-through rate, the lower the quality of the disc. If it is questionable, you might want to think about returning it before you view it.

Some people do not care whether they are buying an original or pirated DVD, but if you are buying a movie for repeat viewings, a pirate DVD does not provide for many unscratched plays.

Good Luck and Safe Shopping!!



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