Electrical systems video equipment · Video equipment in Electrical systems
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Video equipment in Electrical systems
Video equipment in Electrical systems
Televisions, many radios, video and DVD players, as well as videotapes, are often specific to the broadcast system used in the country that they are sold in, usually associated with the frequency of the country's electric current. For example, North America is 60 Hz and its television is 30 frames per second, while Europe is 50 Hz and its television is 25 frames per second. The main three analogue television broadcast systems are PAL, the closest to a worldwide standard, NTSC, used mostly in the Americas and some East Asian countries (notably Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) and SECAM, originally from France and adopted by much of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but there are various incompatibilities even within these supposed standards. There is no difference between PAL and SECAM for unconverted DIGITAL video including DVDs. However, any analog output to a television set would be in the native format of the country of location. Brazil uses a hybrid PAL/NTSC standard called "PAL-M". In Brazil, DVDs and video tape are the same as NTSC (without region coding- see below), but all players and TV sets are useless outside the country unless they have a separate NTSC setting.
Before purchasing any video equipment, read the manual and warranty carefully. For TVs and VCRs, don't forget about cable television frequencies; they may not be the same, even if everything else is. Television sets often won't work correctly in another country from where they were sold, even if the voltage and video standard are the same. For example, a television set made for the USA will skip a few channels in Japan. Furthermore, many countries have or are in the process of switching to digital over-the-air broadcasting, (dates by country). Unless you have an internationally compatible device, you may find your expensive looking system is little more than worthless junk in another country because it won't work with your country's broadcast system. Your warranty is probably only valid in the country of purchase, and you may need to return the goods to the place you purchased them from.
The final problem with transporting TVs is that many European countries, notoriously the UK, require a license to watch any live TV (over-the-air, cable, satellite, and even live-streams on the internet). Fines can be hefty (in addition to being charged for the license).
DVD and Blu-Ray, infuriatingly, have completely artificial limitations introduced in the form of region coding, which attempts to limit the region where the discs can be used, as a technique to keep the various regions as separate markets. For example, a Region 1 player for North America will not play a Region 3 DVD for Hong Kong. The workarounds are to obtain either a regionless DVD player which ignores the code, purchase multi-region discs (Regions 1 and 3 in this case), or better yet, Region 0 discs, which can be played on any device. Blu-Ray discs cannot be played at all in a standard DVD player -- not even at a lower resolution. However, Blu-Ray discs played on a Blu-Ray player can be displayed on a standard def. television, provided you have the correct cables and connections. (HDMI cables are not compatible.)
Technically, there is no such thing as an NTSC or PAL DVD disc, as all color information is the same for both. When discs are labelled as such, what they're referring to is the picture size and frame rate (i.e. number of frames per second) that are used in most (but not all!) countries that have TV broadcasts on this same system. Many NTSC players cannot play PAL DVDs, unless that's a specific feature included (many Philips and JVC models include this). PAL DVD players are generally much better at playing NTSC, but it's not a certainty. If all else fails, a computer DVD-ROM can play any DVD movie, though there's a limit on how many times you can change the region code. Unlike analogue television sets, computer monitors can automatically handle both 25 (PAL and SECAM) and 30 (NTSC) frames per second, as well as various picture sizes. This also applies to LCD and plasma "flat panel" television sets, but don't expect their tuner to be compatible outside the country in which they were sold.
Video cameras can usually be charged with both electrical systems so you can record during travels and view it back home. Digital cameras and video cameras can usually output to both PAL, NTSC, and SECAM, so you can view your recording while travelling. Bring an RCA (yellow plug) to SCART adaptor if you plan to view video from a camcorder on a European television set.
If you have something on VHS video tape, it's best to convert to DVD before traveling. (Conversions between PAL and NTSC can be done before burning.) Use a video capture card for recording the VHS into a digital file on your computer. Then with DVD-making software, burn the file to a blank DVD.
Note that to be playable on a television set using a connected DVD player, a burned disc must be in the native DVD format (same as Hollywood movies) with the "AUDIO_TS" and "VIDEO_TS" folders. If you burn a Windows media, Powerpoint, Quicktime, Adobe flash, etc. file to a DVD, it can only be played back on another computer. This may be totally inadequate for a presentation. Unless your company or organization is already equipped, locating a computer video projector in a foreign country can be a challenge. Traveling with one is not recommended either, as they are expensive, fragile, and somewhat bulky and heavy. Exception: many newer DVD players can play "JPG" still picture files as a slideshow. Some even have an SD card slot, so you can view your photos taken from a digital camera. Caution: NEVER computer-edit anything directly on a photo-media card (SD, CF, Sony memory stick, etc.) Copy it to the hard drive or a USB jump drive first, then edit.
If required, converting DVDs from one format to another (PAL, NTSC), can be done on a computer with a fast CPU, or you can get it done professionally. Allow plenty of time, as this can take many hours. Regular blank discs work fine for making copies of a foreign format, as it's all just a bunch of ones and zeros and no different than copying anything else. Copies can be made quickly, while conversions cannot.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Electrical systems
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Electrical systems Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.