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Video CD (VCD) is a digital recording format that allows video to be recorded onto a compact disc. This format enjoys a number of advantages over other types of recording. VCDs can be viewed by a number of different types of players, including most DVD players and computers with a CD-ROM drive. They are also region-free, which means that they can be played by equipment made in any country.
The VCD format was jointly developed in the early 1990s by JVC, Matsushita, Phillips, and Sony. Although the format enjoys limited success in the US, it fares very well against other formats internationally. VCDs became popular enough in Asia to practically replace VHS. Unlike VCD players, VCRs don't function well in high humidity, and they never had the installed market base in Asia that they did in North America.
The VCD format allows 74 minutes of audio and video to be stored on a standard CD. Both the audio and video are stored in MPEG-1 format. In NTSC format, VCD resolution is 352 by 240 pixels at 29.97 frames a second, and 352 by 288 pixels running at 25 frames a second in PAL format. Audio is mastered at a CD quality 44.1 Khz. The video quality is roughly equivalent to that of VHS.
The versatility of VCD is enhanced by its MPEG-1 compression. VCDs can be played by VCD players, most DVD players, and on any CD-ROM drive-equipped computer. This provides an advantage over the DiVX format, which requires players capable of decoding the MPEG-4 format. VCDs can also be bilingual; the format includes stereo audio, and VCD players allow audio playback of the right or left audio track. This allows users to choose between two languages, respectively.
The VCD format offers multiple benefits over the DVD format. The VCD format is region-free, unlike DVD. Regardless of where the VCD was made, it will play on any VCD player in the world. Many VCD players can adjust to the differing frame rates and pixel resolutions of NTSC and PAL/SECAM televisions.
The low cost of VCDs is also a significant benefit compared to DVDs. On VCD, even blockbuster movies cost half or less of their DVD counterparts. Some titles are released on VCD before they can be found on DVD, and some movies that will never be available on DVD can be found on VCD.
The VCD format is also less rigid than DVD. Consumers watching VCD are rarely subject to advertisements or disclaimers, and can skip to any section of the disc at any time.
The Super Video CD (SVCD) is similar to the VCD format, but with higher resolution. SVCD resolution is 480 by 480 pixels at 29.97 frames a second. A single SVCD contains about 35 minutes of audio and video.