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Daily LifeVHS Video Tapes

By Brad Smith

The term "VHS" refers to the cassette itself, and not what's recorded on it. In America, your VCR recorded video info in NTSC format, but VCRs in France record video in SECAM format. If this is Greek to you, visit the TV standards page. The good news is your tapes will physically fit into a French VCR. However, the video recorded on them is still in one format or another. Any tape recorded or sold in the States will be NTSC and any tape you record with a French VCR or buy in Europe will be in SECAM or PAL.

If you just want to use your American blank tapes in record using your French VCR, it's trivial: you can do it. If you want to view American VHS tapes while in France, you'll need a VCR and a TV that can handle NTSC (either bring them from the U.S., or buy multi-format equipment in France).

When you return to the States, if you want to view French VHS tapes, you'll need a VCR and TV that can display SECAM and/or PAL. Since it's painful to buy multi-format electronics in the U.S., that probably means you're buying them in France, then taking them back with you.

Advice:
Buy an NTSC-compatible VCR in France. It will play all your American tapes (in NTSC format) as well as any tapes you buy in France (in SECAM or PAL format), plus you can record shows.

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