Videophiles are tired of reading letters. Not the kind that come through the mail, but letters like VHS and MTR and SLP--the ones the video industry loves to attach to everything from tape formats to stereo-TV signals.
To help sort through these letters, here's a guide to the abbreviations that pop up most often in video terminology.
A/B SWITCH: An inexpensive control, available at most tech-equipment stores, enabling the viewer to choose at will between two audio/video sources. It's a handy device for such tasks as cable-TV-VCR hookups.
CCD: The charge-coupled device provides solid-state imaging in lighter video cameras. See MOS and CRT.
CED: A videodisc system (capacitive electronic disc) using a phonograph-like stylus and introduced a few years ago by RCA, which stopped manufacturing CED players in 1984; consumers preferred Pioneer's LaserVision videodisc format.
CX: Compatible expansion, a noise-reduction system used primarily on laser discs.
CRT: A cathode-ray tube is basically a TV picture tube, but the abbreviation is most often used in reference to video cameras that use such tubes for imaging, as opposed to CCD or MOS chips.
EP: Extended play. The slowest speed on a VCR, allowing the most taping time but with the worst quality. Called SLP on some models.
HQ: "High quality" circuits are VHS manufacturers' answer to SuperBeta; these circuits sharpen video images to some degree.
LEDs: Light-emitting diodes make it possible to easily read the electronic display on VCRs and other equipment. A marked improvement over reflective LCDs (liquid-crystal displays).
LP: Long play--half the speed and twice the taping time of "standard play" on VCRs.
LV: LaserVision, Pioneer's videodisc system which, like the audio compact disc, is a digital format with no contact (other than a laser beam) between pickup and platter.
LV-CAV: Standing for constant angular velocity, CAV is the LV mode that offers the widest range of features and special effects, but is limited to 30 minutes per disc side.
LV-CLV: Though it sacrifices many LV features, CLV (constant linear velocity) is more commonly used than CAV for videodiscs because it allows one hour per side.
LV/CD: The designation for LaserVision decks capable of also playing compact discs.
MOS: The metal-oxide semi-conductor is a solid-state imaging system for video cameras, as opposed to (heavier) tubes. See CCD and CRT.
MTS: Multi-channel television sound. The noise-reduction-employing system that allows broadcasters such as NBC to send a stereo signal, though the local station must be equipped to receive it and the consumer must have an MTS decoder built into the television or the VCR, or an MTS outboard decoder.
OEM: There are many VCR brands but only a few OEMs--original equipment manufacturers, notably Sony (which makes Beta machines for several companies) and VHS manufacturers Matsushita and JVC.
PCM: Pulse-code modulation. A digital recording technique producing high-fidelity audio recordings on videotape, important for eight-millimeter tape but inapplicable to normal audiotape.
PD: Public domain--the no-copyright status of many old feature films and other material, enabling anyone to release them.
SAP: Separate audio program. The portion of MTS that allows a monophonic audio channel alongside the stereo signal, providing a second-language and other uses.
SLP: Super-long play--same as EP.
SP: Standard play--the fastest speed on current VCRs.
VCP: Videocassette player, which plays videotapes but will not record on them.
VCR: Videocassette recorder. Plays and records on videotape.
VHD: A videodisc system (video high density) that picks up the video signal with a metal sensor. Available only in Japan and Europe, though U.S. marketing plans have been repeatedly bandied about.
VHS: Video Home System. Along with Beta and 8-millimeter, one of the three formats for home videocassette recorders, and the most popular of the three.
VHS-C: The C stands for compact. VHS-C camcorders, recently marketed by JVC, employ smaller cassettes (and shorter tape length) than standard VHS, thus allowing sizes and weights comparable to Beta and even 8-mm models.
VTR: Videotape recorder--the term used instead of VCR in England and for industrial recorders using two open reels of tape (without cassette enclosure).