Television, DVD player, laptop Blu-ray player, game console, set-top box for digital television… How do you connect them all to your television? We provide an overview of the most important connections and a number of older connections of a TV.
Below we give you an overview of the most important connections in the field of image.
Connections of a TV- HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
The most important connection to your television are the HDMI inputs. This connection carries digital image and sound. It can handle SD, HD and Ultra HD images, in SDR or HDR. There are now many different versions of HDMI. Read all about HDMI versions here, and all about the different cables here. All modern media players, game consoles and other sources use HDMI as an output.
HDMI is also backward compatible with DVI-D (see below). With the help of a conversion plug or cable you can supply a DVI signal to an HDMI device.
Connections of a TV- DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
DVI was the first digital connection to make its way to televisions, but is now no longer used. You can still find them on computers. DVI is only for picture signals, not for audio. You cannot send HDR via DVI, and the maximum resolution is 2560 × 1600 with 60fps. You can also send analog image signals via DVI.
Unfortunately, DVI does use different versions of the connector. For example, we distinguish DVI-D that only transports digital signals, DVI-A that only transports analog signals and DVI-I that can do both. Moreover, a DVI cable can also be single link or dual link, depending on the bandwidth requirement. A single link cable is sufficient to transport a 1080p signal, for higher resolutions or for higher frame rates (120fps) you must use dual link cables.
If you want to use DVI cables, you have to pay attention when selecting the correct connectors. You will find all variants on the diagram above.
Connections of a TV – Component Video
From this step, we are in the analog connections. The best quality is provided here by the component video connection, which can be recognized by its three cinch connectors in red, green and blue. Component video should not be confused with RGB (see below). Although the two signals are related, they are not compatible. Component video uses one channel for the black and white image (luminance, “Y”), and two channels for color information (Pb and Pr). In addition to SD, this connection can also display HD images (720p and 1080i and 1080p). Please note, due to copyright protection, many players will limit the quality of the component video output to 1080i or even 540p. For HD images, your best choice is HDMI.
Connections of a TV – RGB (Red Green Blue)
The analog RGB signal is closely related to component video, but not compatible. The connection can rarely or never be found on a television set, unless it is connected to a computer using a VGA plug, but we also see this variant less and less. The RGB signal was often seen in the obsolete Scart connection. The quality of the image can be compared to that of component video.
Connections of a TV – Composite video
Another step lower on the quality ladder we find the composite video connection, which is limited to SD image (576i). The connection uses a single cinch connector which is usually colored yellow. The signal is made up of the three parts of a component video signal. Hence the name composite video. Because only one channel is now used for all image information, visible errors occur here and there. An easy to spot error is “dot crawl,” a moving chessboard pattern on the vertical dividing line of two colors. Another mistake is the creation of unwanted color noise in images with very fine detail.
Connections of a TV – Sound
Connecting sound to a TV does not have to be complex either. In most cases you use HDMI for this, the audio signal and video signal run via the same cable. Sometimes we also find a stereo cinch input. Audio output from the TV can be via HDMI ARC / eARC, S / PDIF or stereo cinch (or stereo mini jack).
The HDMI standard also provides the ability to transport digital audio signals. Originally the standard provided up to eight channels, but since HDMI 2.0 the signal can contain up to 32 channels. The signal can be uncompressed PCM audio as well as compressed formats such as all variants of Dolby Digital and DTS. Of course your television must support the format that you forward.
Via the HDMI input you can also output sound to a soundbar or AV receiver via ARC or eARC. More about that you will find the linked articles.
S / PDIF (Sony / Philips Digital Interface Format) coaxial or optical
The S / PDIF connection can be found in two variants. The first uses a coaxial cable with a single cinch connector (sometimes with an orange color). The second uses an optical cable with TOSLINK connectors. These variants only differ in how they transport the signal. Coaxial cables are more robust, optical cables do not suffer from all kinds of electrical disturbances. Both variants transport digital audio data. That is either stereo PCM, or the surround formats Dolby Digital or DTS. Due to limitations in S / PDIF, you cannot use multi-channel PCM, or more recent formats such as Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, DTS High Resolution Audio or DTS HD Master Audio. This also makes Dolby Atmos and DTS: X impossible via this route.
The optical S / PDIF output can be found on almost all televisions. This way you can bring the audio from the TV to a soundbar or AV receiver.
Stereo cinch and minjack
The analog stereo cinch connection is still very popular. She uses a red and white plug for the right and left channels, respectively. On televisions you will often find them together with a composite video input as an option to connect old analog sources.
The same signal can also be connected via a stereo mini-jack. A simple adapter cable between the two connectors is often included. The stereo mini jack is also often used on televisions as an output for the headphone jack.
You can also transport surround sound via analogue way. The player decodes the digital signal and sends it out through a number of analog channels. This is often six channels (for 5.1) or even eight (for 7.1). The connection then uses one cinch connector per channel, just like with stereo cinch.
You won’t find this connection on televisions, but you can still find it on high-end media players. This way you can connect the player to an older AV receiver or surround amplifier.
Connections of a TV – Disused connections
These connections were once popular, but have now largely or completely disappeared.
S-video (Separate Video)
The S-video connection, recognizable by the four-pin mini-DIN plug, was never very popular on television, but it was common on laptops. This connection can only be used for analog interlaced video at PAL resolution (576i) or NTSC resolution (480i). HD images or progressive scan are impossible on this connection. S-video uses only two channels, one for the black and white image (luminance, “Y”) and one for the color information (chrominance, “C”). That is why it is also sometimes called YC. The quality is better than that of composite video, but less than that of RGB or component video.
Scart (Syndicat des Constructeurs d’Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs)
The Scart connector, also known by the names Péritel, or Euroconnector, was really a special case. This connection bundles a number of analog video and audio signals in one connection. For example, it contains RGB video, S-video, composite video, and stereo audio signals. In addition, both a composite video / stereo cinch input and output are provided. Hence, Scart was widely used to connect video recorders and DVD recorders.
However, that versatility was also a major drawback. RGB and S-video cannot run on the Scart connection at the same time, as they share a number of pins. That is why you had to configure in the player itself which video signal will send out the Scart output. Some knowledge was required for this. This situation was made worse by the fact that a television could not necessarily receive all possible video signals via Scart. So it was possible to broadcast something that the TV did not recognize. Finally, to make it even more difficult, there were a lot of cheap Scart cables in which not all pins of the connector are wired, so that the use of certain video signals was not possible. All this makes Scart a very confusing and tricky connection.