What is PAL?

[Latest Updated: Dec. 27, 2018 by Brent Archer to DVD Ripping]

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PAL (shot for Phase Alternating Line) is a colour encoding system used in analogue television. It owns higher resolution than NTSC, having 576 lines in the Active Area of the Frame. The frame-rate, however, is slightly lower at 25fps. It was originally introduced in the early 1960's in Europe. And now, China, Hong Kong etc. countries and territories are still using PAL now while United Kingdom, Austria, Singapore, Italy are not using it any more.

PAL is utilized in most of the western European countries, Australia, some countries of Africa, some countries of South America and in some Asian countries. There are various versions of PAL, most commonly one is PAL B/G, but others include PAL I (used in the UK and in Ireland) and PAL M (a hybrid standard, which has the same resolution as NTSC  has, but uses PAL transmission and color coding technology). All of these standards normally work nicely together, but audio frequencies might vary and therefore you should check that your appliances work in the country you're planning to use them.

Besides used in TV, the term PAL is also available for describing any video, including digital video, formatted for playback on a PAL TV. This generally includes any Standard Definition (SD) video with a vertical resolution of up to 576 Pixels and a horizontal resolution no greater than 720, which also has a frame-rate of 25fps. PAL may also be called 625/50, in reference to the total number of lines (including lines not in the Active Area) and field-rate.


NTSC receivers have a tint control to perform color correction manually. If this is not adjusted correctly, the colors may be faulty. The PAL standard automatically removes hue errors by utilizing phase alternation of the color signal, so a tint control is unnecessary. Chrominance phase errors in the PAL system are cancelled using a 1H delay line resulting in lower saturation, which is much less noticeable to the eye than NTSC hue errors.

However, the alternation of color information - Hanover bars - can lead to picture grain on pictures with extreme phase errors even in PAL systems, if decoder circuits are misaligned or use the simplified decoders of early designs (typically to overcome royalty restrictions). In most cases extreme phase shifts do not occur. This effect will usually be observed when the transmission path is poor, typically in built up areas or where the terrain is unfavorable. The effect is more noticeable on UHF than VHF signals as VHF signals tend to be more robust.

Format PAL Resolution
DVD: 720x576, 704x576, 352x576, 352x288
SVCD: 480x576
VCD: 352x288

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About the Author

   Brent Archer@BrentArcher7

Brent Archer is an experienced editor who loves all things related to social. He has spent more than a decade writing instructional contents related to social media, streaming services and video related topics all over the internet for Digiarty. Outside the social, he is addicted to Google I/O, Apple WWDC and other tech news to keep him informed.

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