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DVD player won't play region 4 RW DVDs?

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I recently went to the UK with my Australian laptop and tried to play some home videos that my Dad had burnt to a DVD-RW disc. The laptop wouldn't play it - kept saying to "insert a disc". I tried some other DVDs (including some burnt by a professional DVD company), with the same problem. 
The company insists that the DVDs are region 4 (Universal/can play anywhere). I also thought the blank DVDs you buy and burn stuff to yourself are Universal(?). The DVD player is fine - it plays other DVDs - and the discs are also working fine in other machines. They just won't talk to each other! Could it be that this model can't read RW DVDs??
Any help appreciated please - I'm going to buy a new laptop soon and I want to make sure that I won't have any similar problems with the new one!
Windows 10
Current Region 4

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