During nearly two decades of existence, the DVD has been the most popular video format within digital technology worldwide. It has many capabilities that older formats do not have.

DVDs can carry parental control features, limiting access to age-appropriate content. They support anamorphic widescreen, designed for 16:9 television sets when watching a DVD with a film presented in widescreen. The aspect ratio of the film can also be 1.85:1, 2.35:1, etc., but the anamorphic feature can only extend the screen by just over 200 pixels wide, since the resolution of a typical DVD is 480i/480p.

DVDs hold a capacity of up to 4.7 (Single Layer) or 8.5 (Dual Layer) gigabytes, depending on how much capacity the film contains. Most films are stored in Dual Layer discs; if so, about halfway through the movie, a layer change occurs.

A DVD can have up to 8 audio tracks, 32 subtitle tracks, and 9 video angles. Sometimes, an audio or subtitle track can be identified as an "unknown language", usually if no dialogue is spoken or if the subtitle track is really a DVD cursor.

Beware -- DVDs do indeed have regional lockout. The region codes are listed as follows:

1 United States, Canada, U.S. territories
2 Japan, Western Europe, Middle East, South Africa
3 South Korea, Taiwan (Republic of China), Hong Kong, Southeast Asia
4 Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean, South America, Australia
5 Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, Russia, North Korea
6 People's Republic of China

Often times, DVDs from the six major film studios may be coded for more than one region and therefore contain warning screens designed for DVD players coded for each region. If this happens, these DVDs may be RCE (Regional Coding Enhancement) protected.

Of course, the NTSC and PAL formats also do matter. NTSC is used in North America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Latin America; all other countries (Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, etc.) use PAL. DVDs carry up to 99 titles and have selection menus, which is the reason why we get special features of films like in laserdiscs.

Audio CDs and VCDs are backwards compatible with DVD players.

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