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TV Standard: What is the Difference Between NTSC and PAL?

1. What are NTSC, PAL and SECAM?

NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) is a standard used in North America and Japan. It has the ability to display up to 525 lines of resolution. PAL (Phase Alternating Line), a standard used almost everywhere else in the world, has the ability to display 625 lines of resolution. SECAM (Sequential Color Memory) is used sparingly around the world and can be found in France, parts of Greece, Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and a few other parts of the world. However, any SECAM country can display PAL tapes in full color, but not all PAL countries can display all SECAM tapes in color. Only if they are true SECAM and not MESECAM can those VCR's display SECAM.



2. What video standard does my country use?

If you're in North America, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and parts of South America, you use NTSC. Most other areas of the world use PAL or SECAM. Half of Brazil uses NTSC while the other half uses PAL-M. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay use PAL-N. The rest of the world uses mainly PAL. If you're unsure what your video standard is, contact your local cable or broadcast company. Also, on the back of most videotape is indicating what video standard the tape is. This is a good representation of what your video standard is.


3. Do I need special types of videotapes to record in different video standards?

No, videotapes are blank. You can get a blank tape and record any video standard onto it.


4. How do I watch overseas videotapes?

Videotapes come in variety standards, each incompatible with the other. To watch videotapes from overseas that are not the same video standard as your own, you'll need what is called a multisystem VCR and a multisystem TV, or a Digital Video Standards Converter and VCR, or a VCR with a built-in Converter.


5. What is a multisystem VCR?

Different areas of the world use different video standards. North America uses NTSC, Europe uses PAL and SECAM, and South America uses PAL-M, PAL-N, PAL and NTSC. Almost every area of the world has a mixture of video standards. Unfortunately, none of these standards are compatible with each other. A multisystem VCR has the ability to play videotapes of different video standards.