Video8 was launched in the 1980s, into a market dominated by the VHS-C and Betamax formats.
In terms of video quality, Video8, VHS/VHS-C, and Beta-II offered similar performance in their "standard play" modes; all were rated at approximately 240 horizontal lines, depending on speed, quality of tape, and other factors. In terms of audio, Video8 generally outperformed its older rivals. Standard VHS and Beta audio was recorded along a narrow linear track at the edge of the tape, where it was vulnerable to damage. Coupled with the slow horizontal tape speed, the sound was comparable with that of a low-quality audio cassette. By contrast, all Video8 machines used "audio frequency modulation" (AFM) to record sound along the same helical tape path as that of the video signal. This meant that Video8's standard audio was of a far higher quality than that of its rivals.
Video8 had one major advantage over the full-size competition. Thanks to their compact-form factor, Video8 camcorders were small enough to hold in the palm of the user's hand. Video8 main drawback was that tapes made with Video8 camcorders could not be played directly on VHS hardware.
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