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Q & A about VCD

Video CD (abbreviated as VCD, and also known as View CD, Compact Disc digital video) is a standard digital format for storing video on a Compact Disc. It is capable of holding up to 74 minutes of full-motion video with quality stereo sound.

VCDs look exactly like a CD or CD-ROM except that it stores video/audio clips using the compressed and standardized MPEG-1 (Motion Picture Expert Group) format. It is a worldwide, standards independent format endorsed by Sony, Philips, Matsushita and JVC.

VCDs are playable in dedicated VCD players, most DVD-Video players, personal computers and laptops/notebooks (both PC & Mac), and game boxes (e.g. Playstations) and multimedia boxes.

Questions? Please see Q & A for more details.

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Q & A about VCD

1. Why VCD is so popular in Asia?
2. Why VCD is not popular in North America, Europe and Australia?
3. What is the difference between a VCD and DVD?
4. How do I play a VCD?
5. How do I play a VCD on my computer?
6. How do I play a VCD on a Power Macintosh?
7. How do I play a VCD by using SONY Playstation?
8. How do I play a VCD on SEGA Saturn?
9. How do I play a VCD on Nintendo 64?

1. Why VCD is so popular in Asia?
The VCD format was very popular throughout Asia(except Japan and South Korea) in the late 1990s through the 2000s, with 8 million VCD players sold in China in 1997 alone, and more than half of all Chinese households owning at least one VCD player by 2005.

This popularity is, in part, because most households did not already own VHS players when VCDs were introduced, the low price of the players, their tolerance of high humidity (a notable problem for VCRs), easy storage and maintenance, and the lower-cost media.

VCDs are often produced and sold in Asian countries and regions such as Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Pakistan. In many Asian countries, major Hollywood studios (and Asian home video distributors) have licensed companies to officially produce and distribute the VCDs.

Legal Video CDs can often be found in established video stores and major book outlets in most Asian countries. They are typically packaged in jewel cases like commercial CDs, though higher-profile films may be released in keep cases. The consumer should always check for the VCD or DVD logo so as to avoid purchasing the wrong format.


2. Why VCD is not popular in North America, Europe and Australia?
The advent of recordable CDs, inexpensive recorders, and compatible DVD players spurred VCD acceptance in North America, Europe and Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

However, DVD burners and DVD-Video recorders were available by that time, and equipment and media costs for making DVD-Video fell rapidly. DVD-Video, with its longer run time and much higher quality, quickly overshadowed VCD in areas that could afford it.

In addition many early DVD players could not read recordable (CD-R) media, and this limited the compatibility of home-made VCDs. Almost every modern stand-alone DVD-Video player can play VCDs burned on recordable media. However, some modern players cannot play VCDs; for instance, the Sony PlayStation 3.


3. What is the difference between a VCD and DVD?
As opposed to DVD that utilizes the MPEG-2, VCD uses the MPEG-1 standard to store video and audio in a high density form. Due to relatively small storage capacity, feature-length films sold on VCD are usually divided into two or three discs and television series may come in a boxed set package with multiple discs.

In both cases, most films run at roughly 60 minutes per VCD, before viewers are prompted to change discs. However, there are also VCD players that have built-in CD changers which provide a queue of several discs. Subtitles are found on many Asian VCDs but cannot be removed, unlike DVDs. The subtitles are embedded on the video during the encoding process. It's not uncommon to find a VCD with subtitles for two languages.

Unlike DVDs, films carried on VCDs contain no chapters, requiring the viewer to fast-forward to resume the program after playback has been stopped.

VCDs are often bilingual. Because they feature stereo audio, disc players have an option to play only the left or right audio channel. For example, ERA of Hong Kong's release of the animated film The Iron Giant features English on the left audio channel and Cantonese on the right. This is similar to selecting a language track on a DVD, except it's limited to 2 languages, due to there being only two audio channels (left and right). Also the audio track effectively becomes monaural.

VCDs also cost less than DVDs. A brand-new Hollywood blockbuster on VCD is typically half the price of its DVD counterpart, if not less.

VCD does have a few advantages over DVD-Video:
The VCD format has no region coding, so discs can be played on any compatible machine worldwide. Many VCD players can compensate for the differing frame rate and pixel count between NTSC and PAL/SECAM TV systems.

Some titles available on VCD may not be available on DVD and/or VHS in the prospective buyer's region.


4. How do I play a VCD?
VCDs are playable in dedicated VCD players, most DVD-Video players, personal computers and laptops/notebooks (both PC & Mac), and game boxes (e.g. Playstations) and multimedia boxes.

  • VCD players;

  • DVD players; most DVD players are Video CD compatible

  • Personal computers and laptops/notebooks (both PC & Mac) with CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs, a sound card and a good graphics card; PC requires MPEG capable software. We recommend Video Player or Windows Media Player which you can download for free from Microsoft's site. Mac requires Quicktime and/or SpeedTools. Another downloadable player for the Mac is MacVCD. (Now available Mac 2.0)

  • Game Consoles; Playstation requires an inexpensive add-on Redant Movie Card. Dreamcast requires the Dream VCD Player & Remote control set. Nintendo 64 requires the Doctor V64 (256M version). These are inexpensive add-ons that will enable you to watch VCD movies throurgh your machines. Also some Saturn Consoles & 3DO Game Consoles are compatible provided you get an add-on movie card.

  • Some Philips CD-I Players;

  • Some Laser Disc Players.

5. How do I play a VCD on my computer?
Almost any computer can play VCDs because they are based on MPEG technology. You only need a basic pentium PC (minimum pentium 166), a 2xCD-ROM drive, a good video card with 2MB or more and a software-only MPEG decoder. There are two options for playing VCDs on your computer. One is to use Windows Media Player, which is installed on most Windows systems.

First, launch Windows Media Player. Then, insert the VCD into your CD or DVD-ROM drive. From the menu bar, select the VCD you want to play. If it doesn't begin playing automatically, press the Play (>) button. Adjust the screen size. .

The second method for playing a VCD is deceptively simple. If you have a DVD drive on your computer, then you probably already have DVD player software (such as WinDVD or PowerDVD) on your computer as well. Start up this software, insert your VCD, and the VCD should play automatically. Note that you can also install said software on your computer even if you do not have a DVD drive, and use it to play VCDs.


6. How do I play a VCD on a Power Macintosh?
MacVCD is the # 1 Video CD player for the Macintosh and the only Video CD player that works with Mac OS X. For more information please see http://www.macvcd.com.

Alternatively, you will need Quicktime Apple's video technology that allows you to play high quality video directly to your computer. A 4x CDROM and a 604e proccessor is good enough to play VCDs.

Alternatively, you can go to WWW.TUCOWS.COM and do a search on VCD Player to get the software. Download a VCD Player 1.4.6 on Macintosh and there you have a software to play VCD on your Mac! VCD Player simplifies the process of playing video compact discs on your Mac. Simply select the Present Movie command, and VCD Player provides full-screen MPEG playback. It features options that control sound and playback, and like an audio CD player, you can select which track to start watching. VCD Player can now "remember" where you stopped playing the movie after you quit the program, restarted your Mac, or changed to another disc then changed back. This update includes support for multiple monitors.


7. How do I play a VCD by using SONY Playstation?
You need to either convert it or buy an add-on from a third party manufacturer e.g. the VCD Adapter for your PS to watch VCD movies but this device does not work with DVD movies. You can go to WWW.NEOGAMER.COM for the latest Dreamcast, Playstation and Saturn imports.

8. How do I play a VCD on SEGA Saturn?
By adding a 'movie card', you are able to play VCD on SEGA Saturn. You could try the Dreamcast S-Video Cable WWW.NCSX.COM for excellent video quality on S-Video capable monitors and televisions. It is an official add-on hardware and is widely available. .

9. How do I play a VCD on Nintendo 64?
You can add-on Doctor V64w/256M into Nintendo 64 for playing VCD. You can go to WWW.NEOGAMER.COM to view it's features.

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