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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | CD-ROM Drives | Compact Disk Formats ]

Video CD (VCD)

Support for a special CD format for the storing of compressed video information is defined as part of the "white book" specification. Through the use of MPEG compression it is possible to store 74 minutes of full-motion video in the same space that uncompressed "red book" audio uses! This format is called video CD or sometimes VCD.

Playing video CDs requires either a video CD player or a CD-ROM drive that is video CD compatible. Since the compression algorithm used for video CD, MPEG-1, is rather unsophisticated, the quality of these disks has not been anything to write home about. (In my opinion, a decent 4-head VHS VCR produces much better quality video.) This, combined with the fact that video CD titles are few and far between and are not cheap, has meant that video CD has been far from popular. Since the next big format for consumer video playback (and eventually recording) is expected to be DVD, I believe it likely that the VCD format is doomed to a speedy death over the next couple of years.

Note: Video CD is not the same as CD-V, an alternative video CD standard that only holds a few minutes of uncompressed video, along with uncompressed digital audio. (Isn't this standards stuff fun?)

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