When you buy the latest TVs and Hi Fi’s, the thing you might leave out of the equation may be the quality of the cable that ties everything together. You need not buy the most expensive, but getting a quality cable will ensure as much of the audio/ video is transported along the lines with minimal losses. We check out what’s out the to trip us up.
This is instantly recognisable as the long cable with the thread headed ends; which are red, white and yellow. The first two carry the audio signals whilst the yellow carries the TV signal. This is definitely well grounded for non-HD formats. You’ll find this used for older TV sets and DVD players.
You know your computer is an oldy when it uses a VGA cable. This was the standard nearly since the birth of the PC revolution. It has since been superseded by the DVI cable.
This is the PC version of HDMI. Unlike HDMI, which carries all the glorious audio/ video digital bits, DVI only carries HD video only. Still, most PCs are built with thumping sound cards that require still more wires to link up to speakers.
Any laptop owner may remember seeingthe bright yellow port on the side. It carries the video signal only so you’ll have to find alternative connections for the sound. It is slightly better than composite and easier to spot. It’s good to connect DVD players and computers to TVs when component cables are not available.
Long before HDMI cables came along, component cables ruled the roost as the host with the most. They split the video into component red, green, blue channels and recombine them onto the TV screen for sparkling images. Still, for sound you’ll need composite cables (minus the yellow wire). Component cables are still hugely popular. Different manufacturers use more exotic materials for the heads (gold for instance).
These High Definition Multimedia Interface cables are the current darlings for HD-Ready and Full-HD audio and sound. They’re definitely one of the most prettiest (?) designs with only one plug point to meet all your audio/ video needs. And since digital signals are less prone to noisy interference than ye olde analog signals, you only need a reasonably priced HDMI cable. If you have a HDTV and fancy a bit of Blu-Ray movie playing, you’ll need one of these.
These look like telephone wires and if you’re in the office, it’s more than likely your PC is wired up using one. They’re perfect for local area networks and arenot so easily prone to snooping like wireless networks can be. Ethernet cables also go by the names of Cat-5, Cat-5e or Cat-6. From the former to the latter, you can get faster access speeds. So, you’ll get the most out of your gigabit network if you opt for the Cat-6 cable. It’s useful if you plan to send humongous files (ie, last week’s TV shows) around your office.
Look around your little mobile gadgets. Chances are they’ll be connected to your PC via a USB cable. These can transport digital signals and provide power as well. USB cables are so readily available, you’ll probably have more than a few in a drawer somewhere.
This was the cable of choice to download vast amounts of data such as when you’re downloading your movie from your camcorder to your PC. But along the way, it has been steadily lost its way to the more utilitarian USB cable.
First published in Go Digital 1 Jan 2010