Here is a quick rundown of the basic inputs available, from lowest in image output quality to the best of the bunch.

Connectivity Basics: Quick Guide to TV Video Inputs

Connectivity Basics: Quick Guide to TV Video Inputs

Here is a quick rundown of the basic inputs available, from lowest in image output quality to the best of the bunch.


Ever wonder what all the different inputs are on the back of your TV? Or maybe you're shopping for a new set and not sure what inputs you should be looking for? Here is a quick rundown of the basic inputs available, from lowest in image output quality to the best of the bunch:

Fair: Composite

The lowest technology on this list, composite input transmits video signal over one wire.

Good: S-Video

Stands for Super-Video, S-Video has been around since the 80s and is widely present on most existing sets. S-Video transmits video signals over a cable by dividing the information into two separate signals: one for color and the other for brightness, resulting in sharper images than composite inputs.

Better: Component

Component video improves image quality further by separating the color information into different signals, yielding images of improved resolution and color quality. Component video has been widely used to display high-definition signals, and nearly all HDTVs have component inputs.

Best: DVI-D with HDCP, HDMI

DVI (Digital Video Interface) is a uniform connector that can transmit both digital and analog video signal. DVI has three subsets: DVI-A, for analog signals, DVI-D, for digital signals, and DVI-I (integrated), for both analog and digital signals.

The most advanced video input available today, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a USB-like digital video connectivity designed as a successor to DVI. HDMI is the first and only industry-supported interface and can transmit both uncompressed digital audio and video signals protected by HDCP* digital copy protection. 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

* HDCP (High Definition Content protocol) is a copy-protection scheme to be used in conjunction with DVI and HDMI connections.

HDTV-ready - Used to describe any TV that can display high-definition formats when connected to a separate HDTV tuner or source. These TVs generally have built-in tuners for receiving regular NTSC broadcasts, but not ATSC digital broadcasts. The CEA's official term for an HDTV-ready TV is HDTV monitor.

While most HDTVs on the market today include DVI inputs, HDMI is fairly new and not available on all sets. A noteworthy product release comes from Kreisen (www.kreisen.com) , a leading manufacturer of advanced affordable LCD TVs, who is introducing a new 37" High Definition LCD TV with HDCP/HDMI in June for less than $ 2500 MSRP- or about 30-40% less than comparable legacy brand models.


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