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What is a ZV Port?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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A zoomed video port (ZV port) is a type of laptop technology that allows mobile computers to have the same flexibly and capability of desktop computers when it comes to advanced video applications. Specifically, the ZV port provides a dedicated uni-directional bus port for sending video signals directly to the display controller, bypassing the computer processing unit and system bus. By doing so, the ZV port can capture, display and record full-frame video in real time from various input devices such as digital movie cameras or television tuners.

ZV port technology is an extended Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) standard. The PCMCIA port on a laptop is the port that accepts credit-card style devices, such as WiFi cards. A ZV-enhanced PCMCIA port accepts standard cards in addition to Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) cards that are ZV-compliant. A ZV-compliant MPEG card utilizes internal software to change the pin-out configuration of the port in order to provide a dedicated video bus. The card also features built-in ports for accepting video-in signals. By connecting devices to the video-in ports on the ZV-card, the ZV port becomes a capture port.

Using the ZV port with a MPEG ZV-compliant card, a laptop or notebook can capture television programs and record them to hard disk. The incoming signal is first displayed full-screen, then software hands off the signal to the CPU to process for storage on the hard disk. A ZV port card also captures digital audio and can play back in full digital surround sound. The MPEG ZV-card is the equivalent of an add-on desktop TV tuner card.

In addition to capturing programs, a ZV port card can also be used for streaming live video conferencing, gaming applications, and making home movies. Software provides the ability to edit movies for a professional-style home video studio.

Video input ports vary on MPEG ZV-compliant cards depending on the card itself. Most cards include composite video-in, S-Video and cable-in. Some utilize a single proprietary port that uses a multi-purpose cable or dongle which accommodates all of these tasks, even supporting a remote control. Typically, ZV port cards also feature composite and S-Video output for watching the movies you’ve created on an external monitor such as a television.

ZV port cards are available everywhere computers are sold. Before purchasing a ZV port card, be sure your laptop or notebook has a ZV-enhanced PCMCIA port.

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