If you’re confused as to the difference between PAL and NTSC, this post will quickly answer the question: PAL vs NTSC – which is better?
PAL and NTSC are broadcast video format standards.
There are three TV video format standards used worldwide. They are NTSC, PAL, and SECAM.
Before we look at these standards let’s examine their backgrounds to understand their importance.
TV Video Standard Story
When TV broadcasts switched to color in North America, black-and-white TV broadcast technology became obsolete.
TV stations had to find a way to encode color TV broadcasts. Each came up with its own method. It created much conflict and confusion, to the detriment of the TV viewing public.
The National Television System Committee stepped in and introduced an analog color TV system called NTSC.
The idea behind it is to have a TV broadcast standard compatible with color and black-and-white television.
NTSC has become largely irrelevant in these days of digital TV broadcasting. However, it’s still used as a reference when it comes to horizontal resolutions and frame rates.
NTSC stands for National Television System Committee.
It’s a broadcast format with a color encoding system used in countries such as the United States of America, Japan, and the majority of South America.
NTSC offers 30 frames per second at a resolution of 720 x 480.
PAL stands for Phase Alternating Line.
It’s a broadcast format used in some Asian, and European countries including the UK and in Australia and Sweden.
PAL offers 25 frames per second with a resolution of 720 x 576.
Here is the list of countries that use the PAL TV system:
- Christmas Island
- Norfolk Island
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Cape Verde
- Hong Kong
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- East Timor
- Equatorial Guinea
- New Zealand
- Cook Islands
- North Korea
- North Macedonia
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Canary Islands
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- Falkland Islands
- Isle of Man
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Vatican City
Which Has Better Picture Quality? PAL or NTSC ?
PAL offers 50 fields per second. Why? Europe uses a 50 Hertz power supply.
50 fields per second equal 25 alternating lines which equal 25 frames per second.
This means that picture motion is displayed faster.
A lower frame rate means PAL has more horizontal lines than NTSC.
PAL has 625 horizontal lines compared to NTSC’s 525 lines.
Based on this, PAL offers a better picture quality and resolution.
Does NTSC vs PAL Matter Today?
In these days of digital television, analog video takes a back seat. The difference between NTSC and PAL is less pronounced.
The main difference is in the refresh rates between the two systems.
When we talk about HDTVs, PAL offers a refresh rate of 50Hz. NTSC, as you would have guessed, 60Hz.
The difference in image quality is hardly noticeable to the naked eye though.