NTSC, used in North and Central America and Japan.
PAL, a German-invented system used in most of Europe, Africa, Australia, and South America.
SECAM, used in France(its inventor), eastern Europe, and Russia.
Why such a confusing state of television in the world? Well, it's really a matter of three nations and national pride. The Americans were the first to develop a broadcast TV standard and later a color television standard that was also compatible with existing black-and-white sets. The price the US paid for being first was that the other systems, developed later, could learn from and improve on NTSC.
Next came the Germans and their system of "Phase Alternating Lines" hence the name PAL. This is the system currently in use in almost all of western Europe. The French, not willing to settle for anything either the Americans or the Germans had done, blazed their own video trail and created a third TV system they named SECAM. This means that a television set from Europe (PAL/SECAM) will not work in Canada. For the same reason, a NTSC TV is useless in Europe.
For a European moving to Canada, there are several possible solutions to the TV dilemma. The simplest solution sell your PAL/SECAM TV set before going to North America. A good quality 27" Surround Sound Stereo TV can be picked up for between
$ 6-900 in Canada.
Buy a multi-system television that handles all three TV systems. Then you don't have to worry about which system you're using, or even where you are.
If you have recorded European video tapes, they are unusable, unless you have a multi-system video recorder. If you are primarily concerned about viewing video tapes, buy a multi-system video recorder. The advantage is that most multi-system VCRs will work on any TV monitor -- PAL, NTSC, or SECAM. This allows you to play tapes from Europe as well as rented or purchased NTSC tapes.
If you want top quality for video tapes, and you view a lot of video, a separate standards converter used with a VCR usually gives superior results compared to an all-in-one unit. Surprisingly, it may also be
cheaper than a combined VCR/converter.
Will my PAL/SECAM recorded video cassettes work in Canada?
A tape recorded in PAL/SECAM mode will not play in Canada.
It is possible to have tapes "translated" from PAL/SECAM to NTSC or the other way around. But tape conversions by a commercial firm are expensive if you have a lot of tape to convert. $15-20 for a standard two-hour tape is a commonly advertised rate for video conversion. That's fine if you only have a few tapes to convert.
DIGITAL TV & DVD:
How about digital TV and DVD? The emerging digital television standards offer only limited hope for a world-wide TV system. It appears that the world will continue to be divided up by television standards even after the introduction of terrestrial-broadcast digital TV. Europe, Japan, and the US each seem determined to use slightly different digital television broadcast standards, continuing the current television Tower of Babel, albeit with a better picture.
DVD region codes are a provision in the DVD Specification that requires DVD players to be hard-coded to accept DVDs that is only meant to be played within one of six designated world regions. A Code 1 disc cannot be played in a Code 3
DVD player for example. This technique was developed to enable Hollywood companies to release movies at different times in different regions.
DVD regions are defined as:
Region 1 - 1: U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories
Region 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Middle East (including Egypt)
Region 3 - Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong)
Region 4 - Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
Region 5 - 5: Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia
Region 6 - Peoples Republic of China
Region 7 - Reserved
Region 8 - Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)
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