VCD/SVCD
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VCD/SVCD Media

There is a format that has received some popularity among home theater enthusiasts. The VCD or Video Compact Disc is a hybrid between the audio CD and the DVD. The audio and video is no where near as good as with DVD or even laser discs but they are inexpensive and easier to make at home than the DVD.

The VCD can hold about 74 minutes on a typical 650 meg CD. This will mean that a typical film will have to be split between more than one VCD. The VCD uses MPEG-1 for compression. They can hold either a film or a picture slide show and are very popular in Asia, particularly for Hong Kong action flicks. Another use which cannot be condoned by this site is their use in the distribution of bootlegged DVDs and current films. Let the buyer beware, the quality of such discs can run from fairly descent to absolutely unwatchable. 

There is also a variation of the VCD called SVCD or Super Video Compact Disc. This standard provides greater video and audio quality but the tradeoff is less material is available on the disc. The same 650 meg CD can hold about a half hour of video with two stereo tracks and up to four selectable sub titles. 

Most computer CD and DVD ROMs can play a VCD or SVCD. many but not all DVD players can handle the format. In Asia the popularity of the format has created a market for stand alone VCD players. This has not really caught on here in the United States. Some gaming systems like Sega and Play Station can play VCDs with the addition of a separate add on.  At best the quality of the VCD is about the same as a studio released VHS tape.

Other variations of the format include the XVCD (eXtended Video Compact Disc). This format is slightly better than the regular VCD. The number of different variations of the VCD format is growing apparently every day.  With the growing standardization of the writable DVD the interest and use in VCDs will most likely decline rapidly. 

VCD
SVCD/CVD
DVD
X(S)VCD
DivX
ASF
SMR/nAVI
RM
DV
Resolution NTSC/PAL
352x240
352x288
SVCD
480x480
480x576
CVD
352x480
352x576
720x480
720x576
720x480
720x576 or lower
640x480 or lowerČ 320x240 or lowerČ 320x240 or lowerČ 320x240 or lowerČ 720x480
720x576
Video Compression
MPEG1
MPEG2
MPEG2
MPEG1 or
MPEG2
MPEG4
MPEG4
MPEG4
RM
DV
Video bitrate kbit/sec
1150 kbit/s
1500-2500 kbit/s
3000-8000 kbit/s
1500-2500 kbit/s
300-1000 kbit/s
100-500 kbit/s
100-500 kbit/s
100-500 kbit/s
25 Mbit/s
Audio Compression
MPEG1
MPEG1
MPEG1, MPEG2, AC3, DTS, PCM MPEG1 MP3, WMA MPEG4 MPEG4 RM DV
Audio bitrate kbit/sec
224 kbit/s
128-384 kbit/s
192-448 kbit/s
128-384 kbit/s
64-192 kbit/s
64-128 kbit/s
64-128 kbit/s
64-128 kbit/s
1000-1500 kbit/s
Size/min
10 MB/min
10 - 20 MB/min
30 - 70 MB/min 5 - 20 MB/min 1 - 10 MB/min 1 - 5 MB/min 1 - 5 MB/min 1 - 5 MB/min 216 MB/min
Min/74 minCD
74min
35-60min
15-20min 35-100min 60-180min 120-300min 120-300min 120-300min 3min
Hours/DVDR
-
-
2-4hrs - 13-26hrs 13-26hrs 26-40hrs 26-40hrs 20min
DVD Player Compatibility
Great Good Excellent Low None None None None None
Computer CPU Usage
Low High Very High High Very High Low Low Low High
Quality
Good Great Excellent Great Great Decent Decent Decent Excellent
 

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