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DVD Quality Video: What Does That Really Mean?

If someone uses the phrase "DVD Quality Video" in their marketing literature it usually means one of three things; (1) their product is crap, (2) they haven't the slightest clue about DVD-Video standards, or (3) they do understand the standards and are simply trying to mislead you...and their product is crap.

Now maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, but I take offense when companies attempt to mislead the "typical" consumer by using generalizations. The fact of the matter is that there are several standards for DVD-Video, along with other variables that can impact DVD-Video picture quality.

When a company uses this phrase, are they referring to MPEG-2 720×480 video or MPEG-1 352×240? Are we talking Constant Bit Rate (CBR) or Variable Bit Rate (VBR)? Is the bit rate closer to 9.8 Mbps or 1.8 Mbps? These are all valid questions if you’re going to use a general phrase like that, and the related answers have a tremendous impact on the video's picture quality.

I see this phrase used extensively in the Digital Video Suveillance System (DVSS) market, as "they" know that most people will associate "DVD Quality Video" with the picture quality they're used to seeing when they buy or rent a professional studio's DVD-Video release. I'd strongly recommend that if the manufacturer, system reseller, or integrator of a DVSS uses this phrase, you call them on it. Ask for the supported resolutions, bit rates, compression schemes, frame rates, and export options. Then, before signing off on the bill of sale, make sure they prove it. Review recordings from all cameras at various times of day, under various conditions.

If you want to learn more about DVD-Video standards, check out the following links:

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