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Even though playing DVD movies is becoming more and more popular on home PCs, many individuals still play movies that are copied from disc to hard drive or are downloaded from the Internet. (Never download copyrighted material.) Companies also use these formats to send streaming audio and video ads, news and other data. Any time your computer accesses a data file even a DVD disc data file with your favorite movie the computer must use the correct format. It can be a bit complicated since there are so many media formats used now days.

The format of any computer file appears as the final letters of the file s name (following the dot), such as the VCD in MyMovie.VCD. This end label allows your computer to access the correct program to open the file; only then can you watch the movie or play the sound file. Media formats are used to store every audio and visual file your computer reads. Some of the most common media formats include:

Some of the media formats:

ASF   Advance Streaming Format This format was developed by Microsoft in 1995 to store streaming media online. ASF is flexible it can store compressed (reduced in size) files as well. ASF files can be viewed while being downloaded. PowerDVD, WinDVD, CinePlayer Surround, Easy DVD Player, Super DVD Player, Magic DVD, and Zoom player will play this format.

AVI - Audio Video Interleave This file format was developed by Microsoft to store audio and video data for simultaneous playback. The screen resolution for AVI is limited to 320 X 240 pixels with a bitrate of 30 frames per second; this is slow and fuzzy, and so not efficient for viewing full screen or full motion video. AVI files are the most common audio/video formats on your PC.

DivX  named for its developer, DivXNetworks, Inc. This format is a video codec. Video codec technology allows a standard 6 Gigabyte DVD to be compressed and stored onto a CD. With calm movie scenes, the difference in clarity between the DVD and CD versions will be minor. But when the scene includes a lot of action, the difference is clearly evident

MPEG  also named for its developer, Movie Picture Experts Group MPEG is the name of the method used to compress the audio and video into bit stream tokens so that a movie will fit on a DVD. For more information about the evolution of the many MPEG formats, read our article: What is MPEG?

SVCD   Super Video Compact Disc This format uses a bitrate of 1500 to 2600 kilobits per second and has a screen resolution of 480 X 480 (NTSC standards) or 480 X 576 (PAL standards). SVCD produces a video quality greater than the video CD, its predecessor, and about equal to laser discs. With the advent of SVCD, you can store up to four channels of high quality audio as well as subtitles.

VCD - Video Compact Disk This format uses a bitrate of 1150 kilo bits per second and has a screen resolution of 352 X 240 (NTSC standards) or (352 X 288 PAL standards). VCDs videos on CD can play movies at greater quality than VHS movies.

WMV   Windows Media Video Developed by Microsoft, WMV is part of the Windows media framework. WMV files are usually ASF files with a WMV extension. Microsoft is now introducing a High Definition format of WMV. Most of the players available from our site will play .wmv files.

XVCD & XSVCD Extended Video Compact Disc, Extended Super Video Compact Disc These are the same as their counterparts but allow for higher bitrates and resolution capabilities. XVCD is comparable to MPEG 1; XSVCD is comparable to MPEG 2.

Be sure to check out our related site, our DVD player software review.

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