A side note here on that US Road Trip I’m on…
I’m not the sort of person who feels the need to be doing something every minute of every day, especially when on holiday. And since this is a solo trip, I gave some thought to evening entertainment.
Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer et al are all perfectly possible to use, WiFi permitting (and with the occasional VPN tunnel back to the UK where required), but since I own quite a lot of physical DVDs still, I thought I’d take some along. After all, WiFi in hotels isn’t always up to streaming, and DVDs don’t take up vast amounts of space if you take them out of the packaging.
I bought myself the cheapest external DVD drive on Amazon (naturally, my laptops haven’t had optical drives for years). I assumed the software side of things would be a simple matter of installing VLC. Somewhat to my surprise, it wasn’t!
VLC flatly refused to open DVDs without saying why. I eventually worked out that the drive had been shipped set to the “wrong” DVD region (i.e. not the one matching 99% of UK DVDs), but VLC wasn’t smart enough to tell me that.
Even with that fixed, menus didn’t work and the playback was blocky. Interestingly, though, Microsoft have a paid-for option in the Windows store. For £12.49 I could buy the “DVD Player” app. Since it was the one smart enough to tell me about the region encoding thing (even when in trial mode), I reluctantly parted with the dosh. It Just Works – fair play to Microsoft, but I can’t help but wonder if driving sales of this means less incentive to make it easy for third party apps to make DVD playback work on Windows?