Selecting the proper video cables and/or adapters to interconnect devices can be confusing, especially now that we find two traditionally separate industries (Computer and Home Entertainment) merging with their respective set of standardized video connectors. Many of these different types of connectors are easily compatible with each other, while others are not. The Compatibility Matrix Chart (below) outlines the most popular types of connectors found on modern Home Entertainment and Computer equipment and allows you to look up what other types of connectors are compatible with one another, or which Monoprice converter can be used to bridge that connection. The Chart also discloses whether the resulting connection is capable of HD and what the relative image quality may be expected.
“Direct” connections mean that the two connectors are natively compatible with each other without the need for signal conversion. This means that the signal quality is the same as if you were connecting two of the same type of connectors. For instance, HDMI and DVI-D share the same type of digital video signal format. They are essentially the same signal (video-wise) but with different physical connectors. Converting from HDMI to DVI generally yields the same video quality as going from HDMI to HDMI. With directly compatible connector types, all you’ll need is a cable with the correct physical connector on each end or a connector adapter. Other factors, such as HDCP, may affect the operational compatibility of the connection, but it won’t affect the video quality.
Other types of connections will require an active video converter. The most common type of conversion is a Digital to Analog or Analog to Digital conversion. For instance, if you wanted to connect a VGA source device (analog) to a display with an HDMI input (digital), you would use PID# 4629, the Monoprice VGA & Stereo Audio to HDMI Converter. This device takes the analog sine wave signals carried by VGA and analog stereo and converts them to the binary bits used by HDMI.
Video Connection Types
HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It is currently the de facto interconnect standard for high definition consumer electronics devices. HDMI is a purely digital signal and while it is compatible with the digital format of DVI, it is not compatible with DVI-A or any other legacy analog format without an active converter. HDMI currently supports digital HD video up to 1080p and high resolutions multi-channel digital audio on one single cable.
DVIstands for Digital Video Interface. It is a video only format developed by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) as video interface for computer displays though it was adopted for a short time by some consumer electronics manufactures and can still be seen on older model HDTV’s, cable boxes and other devices. It is slowly replacing VGA as the default standard for computer video connections.DVI connectors come in several varieties and despite its name can in certain configurations also support analog video as well as digital. However, the digital and analog portions of the signal are not interchangeable and you can not use a DVI connection to bridge between a digital and an analog signal.
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. It is a video format introduced by IBM. It originally gave a resolution specification of 640×480. It was later followed by SVGA (the “S” stands for super) which is 800×600. Then other formats like XGA, UGA et al. became standard with higher resolutions. Today VGA has become a generic term referring to any analog computer video signals of any resolution that use the HD15 connector. The actual signal itself is in an RGBHV format which separate out the various components of a video signal to reduce crosstalk and provide sharper images of higher resolutions. VGA connections are capable of High Definition, but not all VGA equipment will conform specifically to the resolutions defined by the consumer electronics industry for “HD.”
Component Video Connectionsuse 3 connectors for 1 video signal. The connection is usually made with 3 bundled coax cables with RCA connectors that are color-coded Red, Blue and Green. This type of connection is sometimes mistakenly called RGB, but in fact, it is actually a Y, Pr, Pb and sometimes Y, Cr, Cb, where they Y= Green and carries the horizontal and vertical sync information, Pr = Red and Pb = Blue.Component cables are capable of supporting high-definition signals up to 1080p, but are often intentionally limited to 480p by equipment manufacturers in order to show favor to HDMI which allows for digital encryption and copy protection.
S-Video stands for separate video, is a video only signal that carries the Chromo (color) and Luma (brightness) signals on separate conduits in order to minimize signal crosstalk and provide a sharper picture. Though S-video is slightly sharper than composite, it is still only a standard definition signal (480i).
Composite Video connections carry a video signal and usually use an RCA connector on a 75ohm coaxial cable. The connectors are usually color coded yellow and the cable is often bundled with stereo audio cables with red and white color coded connectors.Composite signals are only capable of standard definition (480i). Though they are a little better than RF signals, Composite is considered the lowest grade of videosignal for connecting devices together.
USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It is a serial data connection used to connect computers to peripheral devices such as printers, keyboards, cameras and many other items. Because of its high transfer speeds, it is able to transmit graphics signals using the appropriate USB graphic converter device.
DisplayPort is a new digital video and audio connection standard designed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). It is a royalty-free technology designed primarily for the computer industry but also compatible for home theater application.
Mini-DisplayPort is a version of DisplayPort with a more compact connector developed by Apple Computers. It is commonly found on Apple Mac Products such as the MacBook, Mac Mini and Apple Cinema Display.
Mini-DVIis a compact version of DVI developed by Apple Computers. It precedes Mini-DisplayPort which is found on the newest products by Apple.
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