Why won't some DVDs play in my computer's DVD drive?

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Why won't some DVDs play in my computer's DVD drive?

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I have a small collection of commercial movie DVDs.  Most of them are from the U.S. market place and some are from Asia... ALL of these DVDs play in my Phillips DVD player that is connected to my TV.


But only some of these DVDs will play in my DVD player that is in my Dell Inspiron 531 computer with Windows 7 Ultimate.

This computer has a SAMSUNG HD161HJ SCSI DVD/CD Disk Drive.

Some of the DVDs that will play on my computer are from the U.S. market and some of them are from the Asian market, so I don't think that has anything to do with why some of these DVDs will not play on my computer.

The DVDs that play just fine in my Phillips DVD player on my TV that won't play on my computer don't even seem to wind up to play on my computer.  The DVDs that will play on my computer wind up (you can hear the sound) in the DVD drive within about 20 seconds and they start playing automatically in the Windows Media Player... but I've allowed all the others that will not play to sit in the DVD disk drive for several minutes each in my tests and nothing at all happens... there is no wind up sound and nothing at all happens on the computer screen.

This does not seem to be a problem with the software driver for the disk drive since some of the DVDs will play.

None of these DVDs are warped and all of them are clean.

I've tried two or three times testing each of the DVDs that won't play, taking them out of the disk drive and putting them back in.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks,

numetro

Verified Answer
  • Japan is region 2 and the US is region 1.  When people play two regions, they usually have two drives to do so and do not switch the regions back and forth.  Once the last region is used, it will lock there.

    If some DVDs play and others do not (all of the same region), it is possible that the DVD laser is marginal, which then validates osprey4 and rdunnill recommendations to replace the drive.  Sometimes a Firmware update is issued to improve readability, however I see no such Firmware for this drive for that purpose.  The latest Firmware for this drive on the Dell Site is here ........

    www.dell.com/.../DriverDetails

    You could give it a try.  I believe in the end you may need to replace the drive.  They are not expensive (www.newegg.com).

All Replies
  • Hate to say it, but the DVD drive on my Optiplex 755 has failed repeatedly.  Sometimes with symptoms just like yours.  Because I've been in warranty, Dell has sent replacements at least three times now.  Maybe other folks will reply with a better tech answer, but if they don't, use your warranty and ask Dell to send you a replacement.

  • Hi ginz,

    Thanks for your reply.  Actually, that's a pretty good guess at what the problem might be, but in all my tests with this issue, all the same DVDs that will play continue to play each time I put them in the drive, and all the DVDs that will not play continue to be the ones that will not play, so the problem seems to be consistent.  Out of maybe 50 DVDs that I tried so far, about 30 of them will never play and about 20 of them will always play, yet all of them will play in my regular Phillips home DVD player with no problems.

    Also, I've done a lot of burning of DVDs and CDs on this machine and as long as I use a third party DVD/CD burner application, like Toast or the free Ashampoo burner app (not the stock Windows 7 burner app that doesn't work right) all of my DVDs and CDs have burned correctly and completely without a hitch and they always read properly as well without any glitches.

    It is certainly a good guess that some components on any Dell computer are defective, as you have experienced yourself apparently.  I know there are quite a few problems with many of the components in Dell computers.

    This computer came with defective RAM in it and it caused infinite problems for years until I figured out that the firmware has a RAM testing application and I tested the stock RAM that came in this machine and it was defective... I found this out long after the warranty was up, and sure enough the RAM that Dell put in this computer was and always had been defective.  As soon as I put some new RAM chips in this computer a couple years ago, then it has run like a top ever since.

    But I sure appreciate your suggestion and I hope that your DVD burner problems have been solved by now.

    Thanks,

    numetro

  • You wrote: "in all my tests with this issue, all the same DVDs that will play continue to play each time I put them in the drive, and all the DVDs that will not play continue to be the ones that will not play, so the problem seems to be consistent".  Yup, was same with me.  Dell put junk DVD player/recorders in their PCs.

  • Hi numetro,

    When you say they don't play, do you mean the discs cannot be read in the drive? Or are you able to view the disc contents but they are not recognized as DVD video?

  • Hi ospre4,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I was just about to add some further information to this thread on this subject that you've brought up when your reply came through just now.

    Let me clarify, with the DVDs that won't play, the DVD drive does not show that there is any disk in the drive when I look at the Computer window that shows my drives... it just appears that the DVD drive is empty, whereas when there is a DVD in the drive that will play, it shows the disk and the name of the disk in the E drive.

    I thought that possibly more codecs would make a DVD drive see more types of DVDs, but I think I understand now that isn't the case. Codecs make a video player play or convert more types of video and video editing apps deal with more types of video formats, but it has nothing to do with what a DVD/CD drive will see, right?

    I got a recommendation on another forum today and I tried the "Media Player Classic HC"...  I thought that might be a solution since, according to the information on the Media Player Classic page on Wikipedia it says...

    "Media Player Classic is capable of VCD, SVCD, and DVD playback without installation of additional software or codecs. MPC has built-in codecs for MPEG-2 video with support for subtitles and codecs for LPCM, MP2, 3GP, AC3, and DTS audio."

    So I thought that since it has its own built-in codecs that might solve the problem, but it didn't. Since Media Player Classic does not actually install, and it just runs from the folder that the zipped file is extracted to, then I don't believe that would affect the DVD drive itself, right?

    The Windows Media Player that is on this computer is version 12.0.7601.17514 dated 11/14/2010. I think I upgraded it once since I installed Windows 7 in October of 2010. But apparently that doesn't have anything to do with this problem because Media Player Classic HC doesn't see the same DVDs that WMP won't see.

    The problem is that the DVD/CD drive is just not seeing some of these DVDs, and as I said, many of the DVDs that it will not see are from the U.S. market, and even some from the same distributor will play and others from that same distributor will not. In addition, most DVDs from Japan will play and some will not. At this point after testing about 50 or so DVDs, the ones from Japan have a better play ratio then the ones from the U.S... but a few of the DVDs from Japan will not play.

    Could that have anything to do with the fact that this 2006 computer's DVD drive is a Japanese model? Again, it is a SAMSUNG HD161HJ SCSI DVD/CD Disk Drive.

    I edit and create some videos in Adobe Premiere, so I have at least a vague understanding of codecs and I've installed some on this computer... but I don't believe that has anything to do with this problem.

    Is it possible that a newer software driver for my internal SAMSUNG HD161HJ SCSI DVD/CD Disk Drive would make it see more types of DVDs? Maybe I was wrong with my previous assumption that the driver won't make a difference.

    Or is it possible to "set" the region for the DVD drive, as someone else has indicated to me on another forum? How does one go about doing that?... and would that be likely to make it so it wouldn't play some of the DVDs that it will play now?

    Thanks,

    numetro

  • I suggest trying a different DVD drive; if that corrects the problem, then the issue is a hardware one with your current drive.

  • Ditto. This is not a codec or region issue, and a replacement drive is likely the only solution.

  • Hi 4dunnill and osprey4... thanks for your replies.

    I'm still a little skeptical that this is a defective drive failure problem based on everything that's going on in my tests.

    There is a Microsoft driver for my DVD drive and it CAN be updated, according to the Device Manager interface for that drive, seen in my screenshot attached at the bottom of this post.

    The driver for my SAMSUNG HD161HJ SCSI DVD/CD Disk Drive is the Microsoft driver, version 6.1.7600.16385, dated 6/21/2006, and it does give me the option to update it. My concern there would be that it may (for whatever reason knowing how things go) render my DVD drive inoperable in some sort of software glitch if I try updating that driver... Murphy's Law, ya know?

    My last question would be, have you ever heard of or experienced a DVD drive's software driver update improving its ability to read more types of DVDs?... or have you ever heard of updating a DVD drive's driver having the opposite effect.

    Since this DVD/CD drive is consistently reading the same DVDs properly over and over in my tests, and not reading the same DVDs over and over in my tests, it leads me to believe that this drive is not having an intermittent failure problem, but more of a problem where the drive or the software driver for it is not reading some types of encoding that some DVDs have. In addition, this drive has never had any problems burning any DVDs or CDs or reading any of the DVDs and CDs that I've burnt... never a glitch, never a wasted disk... if it was having a laser problem, it would show it in some other ways as well.

    Let me know what you think of my last question above, in red.

    Thanks,

    numetro

  • The SAMSUNG HD161HJ is a hard drive.  Look in the Device Manager and click on the (+) next to DVD/CD-ROM drives.  Right-click the CD drive and select Properties.  This will reveal the Brand and Model of drive.  Please post that.

    The driver you will see in the Device Manager is a generic one that all Windows installed computers use.  

  • Skybird, thanks for your reply, so much.

    Ooops, you're right!... the label, "Disk Drive" threw me off and I opened the wrong Device panel in my Device Manager.

    This DVD/CD drive is an HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GSA-H31N SCSI CdRom Device, as labeled in my Device Manger... see the screenshot below.

    And I just noticed that there is a tab on that Device panel named "Region", and it says...

    ___________________________

    Most DVDs are encoded for play in specific regions. To play a regionalized DVD on your computer, you must set your DVD drive to play discs from that region by selecting a geographic area from the following list.

    CAUTION  You can change the region a limited number of times. After Changes remaining reaches zero, you cannot change the regioun even if you reinstall Windows or move your DVD drive to a different computer.

    Changes remaining: 4

    To change the current region, select a geographic area, and then click OK.

    Current Region: Region 1

    ___________________________

    And apparently "Region 1" is the United States, because I tried clicking on the U.S. in the scroll list of countries and when I click on it, then there is a field that shows "New Region" as Region 1 before I click OK.

    Now this explains some things but not others.  Most of the DVDs that I have from the U.S. actually WILL NOT play currently, even thought my drive is set for the United States region, but most of the Japanese DVDs that I have will play currently, but some will not.

    And apparently I can't just change it back and forth more than 4 times to different regions to test it, which seems to be a huge limitation in this drives funtion.

    Someone on another forum is also telling me that there would be a Dell firmware update for this DVD/CD drive somewhere, so I'd like to be able to find that if possible for this Inspiron 531 computer.

    I wonder if that would make this drive's DVD reading capabilities any more universal by default if I updated that firmware for this DVD/CD drive.

    Let me know what you think.

    Thanks so much,

    numetro

  • Japan is region 2 and the US is region 1.  When people play two regions, they usually have two drives to do so and do not switch the regions back and forth.  Once the last region is used, it will lock there.

    If some DVDs play and others do not (all of the same region), it is possible that the DVD laser is marginal, which then validates osprey4 and rdunnill recommendations to replace the drive.  Sometimes a Firmware update is issued to improve readability, however I see no such Firmware for this drive for that purpose.  The latest Firmware for this drive on the Dell Site is here ........

    www.dell.com/.../DriverDetails

    You could give it a try.  I believe in the end you may need to replace the drive.  They are not expensive (www.newegg.com).

  • So far, I'm not finding any Firmware updates for this computer on this page for the Inspiron 531 on the Dell site, under removable storage, for the HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GSA-H31N SCSI CdRom Device, linked below...

    www.dell.com/.../inspiron-531

    If anyone has any leads as to a firmware update for this mystery DVD/CD drive, please let me know.

    Thanks.

  • It is under Removable Storage.  It is the very last one.  It is the one I posted.

  • Thanks Skybird... I missed that one at the bottom of the list... and my last reply must have just been sent before I was notified of your reply on the subject.

    I see that firmware update was from 2007, so it's possible that this computer might have an older one than that since it was purchased in 2006 or 2007 and it was probably manufactured sometime in 2005 or 2006, but it doesn't say anything about improvements in reading various types of DVDs in that firmware description... it only says...

    "Firmware resolves Optilex 320 system detection issue with the HLDS GSA_H31N HH drive at boot up"...

    ... which I'm sure means that it had a previous problem before even seeing the drive in the Windows operating system, but I haven't had that problem and I've upgraded the OS one time on this computer from Vista to W7 and I've never had a problem with the OS not recognizing the DVD/CD drive itself.

    I do have a LaCie DVD/CD burner from around 2003 that is in storage and it is a very good one, so maybe I'll try that one, if I can find it and dig it out.

    Thanks so much for all of your guidance.

  • Let us know how the other drive works out.  Best regards.