Across the world there are two common video formats, NTSC and PAL. They are not interchangeable --- devices that support PAL media do not support the NTSC format, and devices that are designed for NTSC will not properly play PAL media. Knowing the difference between the two formats ensures that you know which region setting to use for your device, such as the Xbox 360, so you can play games purchased in your area.
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Phase Alternating Line, or PAL, is the video format found in Europe, Australia and Asia, where electricity operates on a 50 hertz grid. The National Television Standards Committee, or NTSC, format is used in the United States, where the electricity grid is 60 hertz.
NTSC video on your Xbox 360 appears at alternating spurts of 30 frames per second, which happens so fast it's undetectable. The PAL format renders at 25 fps, which impacts video quality. If your device is set to PAL and you try to play an NTSC video, you need to remove 5 fps and end up with black letterboxing. Playing a PAL video on an NTSC device creates blurriness and lines because PAL lacks the additional 5 fps.
Quality varies between PAL and NTSC. Even though NTSC has more frames per second, PAL has 625 lines of resolution, as opposed to 525 with NTSC. PAL displays a better picture quality and resolution with the additional lines.
Since PAL was developed after the introduction of colour signals, the format uses better technology to display clarity and accurately display colour signals to the viewer. NTSC, first adopted in 1941, does not have ideal electronic signals for colour.
A game released for the Xbox 360 in PAL format will not work on a device designed for NTSC, and a game released in NTSC format will not play on a PAL system.
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