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digital video connections

Content: Oct 2004 by Lyberty.
Updates or Modifications:
November 2004; March 2005; Oct 2005; December 2006

[tech] article date: November 2004
[ - ]

Video Connections from a computer to a television (for example, a Plasma high definition television), or from a DVD player to a high definition monitor/projector.
From "best" to "worst":


High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)

HDMI is the first industry-supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface. HDMI provides an interface between any audio/video source, such as a set-top box, DVD player, and A/V receiver and an audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television.
HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio, with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements.
It has 5 Gbps bandwidth of data bandwidth, plenty enough for future expansion.
HDMI is compatible with DVI-D.

Note: HDMI and DVI both transport digital video signals, and are both capable of carrying the same level of "video quality". The main difference between HDMI and DVI is that HDMI provides a standardized form of copy-protection (which means its good for manufacturers, but often frustrating for users). Also, the HDMI plug is smaller. Since many DVI out ports are video only, the integrated audio of the HDMI ports is often touted as well.




DVI (Digital Video Interface: DVI-D or DVI-I)
aka HDCP

Specifically designed for digital devices, DVI-D provides (arguably) the brightest, most accurate colors and sharpest detail for your high-definition, all-digital video receiving device.

DVI-D requires data to be transferred in pure digital form in order to achieve the best-possible performance from your digital devices. To obtain the highest-possible resolution from DVI (digital video) technology, a dual-link, 24-pin connection is required. (Single-link (18-pin) connectors can significantly limit the bandwidth potential of DVI; Dual-link DVI cables provide the convenience of backward-compatibility with AV (audio-video) hardware that is single-link-enabled only.)

Some Plasma TVs now (November 2004) have DVI-D (HDCP) inputs, and some DVD players (see example at the bottom of this page) have DVI-D outputs.

DVI (Digital Video Interface) Inputs
This can be either a digital only connection (DVD-D) or a combination digital and analog connection DVI-I. Many new DVD's and STB's (Set top Boxes) for Satellite (DSS) or Digital Cable TV will have these connectors this year. Many new HDTV's and Projectors are using this connection already.

24 pin DVI-D plus 4 pin DVI-A connector
DVI-I jack (digital plus analog)


pure DVI-D HDCP output jack
DVI-D output jack

A DVI connection can be one of three types - DVI-I, DVI-D or DVI-A (rare!) .

DVI-I contains both the digital and analog connections, (DVI-D + DVI-A).
It's essentially a combination of DVI-Digital and DVI-Analog cables within one cable.
Has 24 pins plus 4 analog pins.

DVI-D (like DFP or P&D-D (EVC)) is a digital-only connection. If both devices being connected support a Digital DVI connection (DVI-I or DVI-D compatible) and are compatible in resolutions, refresh rates and sync, using a DVI-D cable will ensure that you are using a digital connection rather than an analog connection, without playing around with settings.

DVI-Analog is really rare. (Why use a DVI connector when you can use a cheaper VGA (analog) connector? )
DVI-I P&D-A (EVC) was seen for a while on some projectors....

click here to view all DVI connector types

DVI output sometimes has selectable scaling (selectable 480p, 720p or 1080i output); this enables users to best match the characteristics of a video display device.

Belkin Digital Video Dual-Link Cable with Tinned OFC Conductors

Output: computer (PC) ; progressive-scan DVD player (rare)
Input: plasma TV, LCD TV , or monitor, HDTV/digital satellite receiver,

[Example: A DVI cable from Belkin, ($80 as of 2005); DVI-D to DVI-D dual-link, reportedly capable of 1600 x 1200 resolution]


High-Performance, Digital Video Dual-Link Cable with Tinned OFC Conductors for High-Accuracy, Natural Sound Quality.VGA (Video Graphics Array) Inputs
[aka PC-Video (RGB); aka 15-pin D-sub ]
VGA inputs are typically used to connect PCs to monitors or other screens. The type of cable used is a 15 pin VGA cable, which is the same type used to connect regular computer monitors to processors.

On certain models (such as the Sony PFM series of plasma displays) the VGA input can also be used to connect analog video components using an RCA-to-VGA cable or S-Video-to-RS232 cable. (The majority of plasma and flat-panel LCD displays only use the VGA for computer use, so check with your vendor before purchasing an RCA-to-VGA cable.)


RGB Video (VGA) Example:

This is a closer view of the PC-Video (RGB / VGA) connector on the rear of an 18-inch LCD TV. This connection is used to connect the TV to an RGB video input source, such as a computer.
"Connect the 15-pin D-Sub RGB connector on the computer to the RGB-IN."

A VGA connection - image showing blue VGA plug and red/white audio plugs.

a.k.a. 15 pin holes, hence the name '15-pin D-sub'SVGA
a.k.a. RGB (red, green, blue), a.k.a. RGBHV a.k.a. RGB-HV
[ Red Green Blue Horizontal sync Vertical sync;
"RGB-HV" is sometimes used to refer to the video signal used by computers and high definition video. This is presumedly to distinguish the 15-pin D-Sub RGB cables from other RGB cables.]

SVGA is "a solution for connecting computers to projectors, plasma TVs, LCD or CRT monitors, or flat-panel receivers". SVGA (Super VGA) transports video signals by separating the signal into each of three primary colors: red, green, and blue. It carries full resolution of each color on its own wire to allow for clear and bright images, and also transports sync data; this transport generally exceeds the performance of Component, and is better than Composite and S-Video connections.

(Note: the VGA connector should not be confused with the "RS-232" connector used for "control by wire".)


Component Video
a.k.a. RGB (
red, green, blue);
High-Performance, Digital Video Dual-Link Cable with Tinned OFC Conductors for High-Accuracy, Natural Sound Quality.Red, Green, and Blue cables provide true color separation (one cable for each primary color) and reduced interference for high picture color, clarity, and resolution. These cables are capable of carrying full high definition (HD) signals, but this capability is usually restricted by the sending or receiving device (usually as part of the HDMI copy-protection scheme).

[more info: see comparison of composite / s-video / component]

Note for connecting PCs to standard NTSC CRT televisions:
CRTs (using Component Video or S-Video input) can generally only support a maximum of around 640x480 pixels (actually 480 lines at a max of 60 Hz), so computer to TV adapters are not able to clearly display a computer desktop very well. Note that unless your TV is high definition capable, it's only going to display at 640x480 (at best) so attaching your computer to it by any means will have the same result.


High-Performance, Digital Video Dual-Link Cable with Tinned OFC Conductors for High-Accuracy, Natural Sound Quality.

S-Video separates brightness from color using two separate conductors to create cleaner, more accurate signals. It delivers better color accuracy and sharper picture detail than Composite Video; however, it will not achieve the optimal performance of Component Video, which uses three cables to separate color into its primary components.


Composite Video

see comparison of composite / s-video / componentHigh-Performance, Digital Video Dual-Link Cable with Tinned OFC Conductors for High-Accuracy, Natural Sound Quality.

Connection Scenario Example: An advertisement for a Widescreen LCD TV lists "Component, S-Video, Composite, and 15-pin D-sub inputs".
This would mean your best connection from a DVD player would probably be the Component input, and your connection from a PC would be the VGA (15-pin D-Sub RGB) input.

other types:

"Digital Outs" (audio)

See also "TosLink Fiber Optic Audio Cables" (Optical Out) / Firewire / i1384 / IEEE 1394

From FAQ: Q: How fast is 1394?
A: The 1394 standard defines three signaling rates which, in precise terms, are: 98.304, 196.608 and 393.216 Mbits/s (megabits per second).

Example of a media player with many different connections: the DENON DVD-3910 DVD & SACD Player :

Denon DVD 3910 Connection Table
  Analogue Digital Analogue Digital









Outputs 1+5.1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 (RGB) 1 1

[back to article]



The maximum physical display resolution of the external monitor is 640 × 480 dots when the aspect ratio is set to 4:3, and 852 × 480 dots when the ratio is set to 16:9.
Note: "A/V cable" (audio/video) cable is too generic: it could be an HDMI A/V cable, component A/V cable, Composite (yellow-red-white) A/V Cable (*), etc.



Links / Further Reading:
- DVI vs. HDMI vs. Component Video -- Which is Better?
(Digital is not inherently better than analog!!!)

- part 1 of this article: comparison of composite / s-video / component

- the glossary

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