If SVCD can be viewed as format that seeks to combine the advantages of DVD quality with the cheapness of writable CD media, then miniDVD can be viewed in a similar light. The miniDVD format goes the whole hog though – it is DVD on CD media. The trade-off with the SVCD format is simple, better quality for reduced capacity. In practical terms this means about 15 minutes of DVD quality video on a 650MB CD-R(W) disc, sufficient perhaps for a home video or collection of musical videos. It is possible to reduce quality – by decreasing the resolution/bitrate – in order to increase capacity.

Originally, few DVD players had a DVD drive that was capable of achieving the CD spin speeds required to cope with DVD’s high bitrates. By late 2001 DVD rewriters – both of the DVD-RW and DVD+RW variety – had started to become sufficiently affordable to appeal to a wider consumer market. As this trend continues, the number of compatible DVD players is likely to increase in tandem with format’s popularity. miniDVD may also be played on DVD-ROM drives using suitable video player software, such as Windows Media Player.

Whilst none of SVCD, XSVCD and miniDVD are official formats, they are at least based on recognised standards. In early 2000 a new video technology emerged from the computer underground that made no pretence to be anything other than a hack, yet appeared capable of doing for movies what MP3 had done for digital music.