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More information about watching NTSC video on PAL systems

(From: Aaron Smart (spectrum_kid@hotmail.com).)

Most VCRs of remote quality sold in the British Isles (UK & Ireland) and probably other PAL regions (and definitely in the Middle East) in the past few years say something along the lines of "NTSC playback on PAL TV". It's usually automatic (it often takes the VCR about a second to adjust to NTSC speed), but some older VCRs have a switch. They don't usually go into much detail about how it's done in the manuals, but I'm pretty sure they usually just convert the signal to NTSC 4.43. Many decent TVs made in the last decade or so can handle this well enough, but some (most noted are Philips sets) will only display it in a kind of 'meshed' black and white. However, use of an RGB connection (e.g. SCART) removes this problem.

All DVD players sold in PAL regions (I think) are equipped to play NTSC video (too bad that most of them only play Region 2 discs, which means the only NTSC discs they can play are Japanese or region-free titles). I don't know exactly how every player works of course, but with ones I have used, they either just play NTSC discs in NTSC 4.43 or have the option to do that or play them in 'PAL' which I assume is PAL 4.43 at 60Hz which seems to be the same, except it won't turn out in blank and white with a composite connection as it does on some sets.

Also, certain newer videogame consoles (Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo Gamecube mostly) have many games that are allowed to be played in either 60 or 50Hz modes (since most games originate from NTSC regions, and 50Hz versions are usually slowed down and contain sometimes MASSIVE 'letterbox' borders). I don't know about other consoles, but the Dreamcast displayed the 60Hz video modes in PAL.

Panasonic TV manuals call this system "PAL 60/525", and I've heard it called "PAL 60" before, so it must be standardised to some extent.

I've tried a few PAL TVs with displaying 60Hz (PAL or NTSC), and here's some vague results of what happened: (O = yes, X = No. 'M' under NTSC only means black and white with composite or RF connection - not tested with RGB. Sorry I don't know the model numbers for all the tested sets. All models are Irish models unless stated)

 TV Make/Model (if known)         PAL 60    NTSC 4.43
 Panasonic TX-21S4TL (1998)          O RGB only
 Panasonic TC-14JR1L (2000)          O          ?
 Hitachi C1405R (UK, 1994)           O          ?
 Philips 21"(mid 90s)                ?          M
 BPL 14" (early 90s)                 X          X
 Panasonic 21" (early 90s?)          O          ?
 Mitsubishi 21" (late 80s?)          X          X
 Ferguson 14" (late 90s)             O          O
 Akura 14"(Daewoo tube, early 90s)   X          X
 Salora 21" (circa 1990)             O          ?
 Philips 28" (circa 2000)            O*         ?

* The colour was screwy at the top of the screen and was kind of unstable.

I've noticed that on a lot of sets that 60Hz pictures go off the screen a bit (vertically), and the OSD is stretched with it.

As for multi-region TV sets, most sets sold in the British Isles only receive PAL I RF transmissions, but I've seen some cheaper TVs sold in Ireland with PAL G as well. However, I have seen a widescreen Philips set (circa 2000, 32"?) that actually had a country selection menu - and it was definitely changing to the different PAL systems and to SECAM when I put it on France. I personally haven't seen other TVs like this, but there probably are others.

In the Middle East, though, it's a totally different story. In Saudi Arabia, anyway, all TV sets and VCRs had at least PAL (dunno which one) and MESECAM support. Most VHS VCRs had NTSC 4.43 playback, you could get multi-region TVs which had support for PAL, SECAM, NTSC 4.43 and NTSC 3.58. I had a multi-region Daewoo TV which had 4 LEDs below the screen to tell you which system you were watching - how nice!

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