Difference between revisions of "Cable finder"

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(Audio connector: new section)
(Video connector: colors for VGA and DVI)
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#[[wikipedia:RCA connector|RCA connector]]: a yellow one usually carries [[wikipedia:Composite video|composite video]]
 
#[[wikipedia:RCA connector|RCA connector]]: a yellow one usually carries [[wikipedia:Composite video|composite video]]
 
#[[wikipedia:S-Video|S-Video connector]]: round, 4 or 7 pins, carries brightness and color on separate pairs of wires
 
#[[wikipedia:S-Video|S-Video connector]]: round, 4 or 7 pins, carries brightness and color on separate pairs of wires
#[[wikipedia:VGA connector|VGA connector]]: DE-15, carries progressive RGB video
+
#[[wikipedia:VGA connector|VGA connector]]: DE-15, carries progressive RGB video. Often colored blue.
#[[wikipedia:Digital Visual Interface|DVI connector]]: D-shaped, longer than VGA, can carry digital (DVI-D) and analog (DVI-A) video signals in a single integrated (DVI-I) connector
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#[[wikipedia:Digital Visual Interface|DVI connector]]: D-shaped, longer than VGA, can carry digital (DVI-D) and analog (DVI-A) video signals in a single integrated (DVI-I) connector. Often colored white.
 
#[[wikipedia:HDMI|HDMI connector]]: carries DVI-D video and (optional) digital audio on on a thinner connector
 
#[[wikipedia:HDMI|HDMI connector]]: carries DVI-D video and (optional) digital audio on on a thinner connector
  

Revision as of 19:15, 29 September 2009

This page helps you find the cables you need to connect a personal computer to a television.

Background

In 1987, IBM released the Video Graphics Array (VGA) card, which could generate a color video signal with 480p enhanced definition. But for about two decades afterward, connecting a PC to a TV was considered a "hard problem". Most TVs of the time were boxy CRT SDTVs (cathode ray tube standard-definition televisions). These required a scan converter to turn the EDTV (enhanced-definition television) or HDTV (high-definition television) signal from a monitor into an SDTV signal that the TV can use. But starting around the early 2000s, video cards using a chipset made by NVIDIA or ATI began to incorporate a TV output with a scan converter right on the card. Furthermore, as of 2008, people are replacing their SDTV sets with HDTV sets, which have the same ports on the back as a PC monitor.

Video connector

There are several kinds of video connectors commonly used in consumer electronics. In roughly increasing order of video fidelity:

  1. RCA connector: a yellow one usually carries composite video
  2. S-Video connector: round, 4 or 7 pins, carries brightness and color on separate pairs of wires
  3. VGA connector: DE-15, carries progressive RGB video. Often colored blue.
  4. DVI connector: D-shaped, longer than VGA, can carry digital (DVI-D) and analog (DVI-A) video signals in a single integrated (DVI-I) connector. Often colored white.
  5. HDMI connector: carries DVI-D video and (optional) digital audio on on a thinner connector

Find the video output connectors on the back of your computer and your monitor or TV set. Then compare them to the pictures in the Wikipedia articles to see what connectors you have.

To be added: gallery of photos of each port

HDTV

Your computer Your monitor Required cable
VGA VGA VGA cable
DVI-I* VGA DVI-I to VGA cable
DVI DVI DVI cable
DVI HDMI DVI to HDMI cable
HDMI DVI DVI to HDMI cable
HDMI HDMI HDMI cable
  • DVI ports come in two flavors: DVI-D, with a flat pin on one side, and DVI-I, with a longer flat pin surrounded by small pins.

DVI-D (the D stands for digital) has only digital signals; DVI-I (the I stands for integrated) also carries analog VGA signals. DVI-to-VGA cables work only with DVI-I ports; DVI-D ports work with either.

Some Mac computers have miniature DVI or miniature DisplayPort connectors. Apple dealers sell adapters from both to DVI and VGA.

SDTV

Do not confuse RCA connectors that carry composite video (yellow) with those carrying audio (white or red), or you'll hear a horrible buzzing noise from your TV's speakers.

Your computer Your monitor Required cable
S-Video (4 or 7 pin) S-Video (4 pin) S-Video cable
S-Video Composite S-Video to composite cable
Composite Composite RCA cable
VGA Composite Scan converter and RCA cable
VGA S-Video Scan converter and S-Video cable
DVI-I Composite Scan converter, DVI-I to VGA cable, and RCA cable
DVI-I S-Video Scan converter, DVI-I to VGA cable, and S-Video cable

It may be hard to find a scan converter in a brick-and-mortar retail store. I've had decent results with the SW-22050 from Sewell ($34.95).

Audio connector

PC sound cards have two or more "miniplug" jacks (3.5mm TRS connectors) that looks like the headphone jack on a radio or an MP3 player. The one with a pink ring around it is for a microphone, and the lime green one is for a pair of speakers.

The audio input on a TV or a home theater system is usually a pair of RCA connectors, white for the left and red for the right. Sometimes, especially with VGA connectors, a TV will have a miniplug input instead of a pair of RCAs. Cables with a miniplug on one end and two RCAs on the other end are easy to find; look in the MP3 player section of your favorite electronics store.

Some HDMI inputs don't have an audio connector; instead, they use the audio link in the HDMI connector. But many TVs with more than one HDMI input are designed for use with a PC and thus have audio connectors next to one of the HDMI inputs.

To add: photos of miniplug and RCA audio in