Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
VCD display resolution is 352x240 pixels (NTSC) or 352x288 pixels (PAL), approximately one quarter of full TV resolution. VCD video is in MPEG-1 format; audio is encoded as MPEG Layer 2 (MP2); video is stored at 1150 kilobits per second, audio at 224 kbit/s. Overall picture quality is intended to be comparable to VHS video, though visual artifacts may be noticeable in some cases.
Since the overall bit rate of VCD is approximately equal to the bit rate of ordinary audio CD, the length of video that can be stored is similar to that of CD: a standard 74 minute CD can hold about 74 minutes of VCD-format video.
While never gaining a foothold in the United States or Europe, commercial VCDs were very popular throughout Asia because of the low price of the players, their tolerance of high humidity (a notable problem for VCRs), and the lower-cost media. The negligible cost of the media made piracy rampant in these areas, which is probably the reason it was never widely supported by the industry in the United States. The advent of recordable CDs and inexpensive recorders has spurred a rapid growth of their acceptance in the US, since most DVD players can play them.
The VCD format allows home computer users to create home movies on CD. Almost all DVD players are capable of playing regular VCDs. However, not all DVD players can read the CD-R media, hence homemade VCDs produced by CD burners (versus those produced by pressing) may not be playable on some DVD players. Such incompatibility is a major problem that prevents consumers from distributing their home-made VCDs as their video Christmas greetings.
Many commercial Video CDs of Hollywood and Asian movies are not widely available in the United States and Canada; however, they are available in ethnic communities such as Chinatowns and several Malaysian-based web sites. These VCDs are often produced and sold in Asian countries such as Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Malaysia.
VCD is gradually being replaced by DVD, which offers most of the same advantages to Asian buyers as VCD, as well as a much better quality picture and sound, due to its larger storage capacity.
VCD does however have a few points in its favor:
- Unlike DVDs, VCDs have no region coding, which means they can be played on any compatible machine worldwide.
- Some titles available on VCD may not be available on DVD and/or VHS in the prospective buyer's region.
- They are much cheaper than DVDs. On the other hand, they do not come with the bonus features of DVDs, such as deleted scenes, interviews, and production notes.
These factors may ensure a steady market for VCDs for at least a few more years.
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