As more people purchase high-end home entertainment systems to watch movies and play video games on, they’re exposed to a myriad of options for TV cords, connections and jacks. This can get pretty confusing. At some point, users will choose between component video signals connected by RCA cables and the newer HDMI cables. Before making a decision, it’s important to understand the differences between these TV cords.
What Is RCA?
If you’ve ever hooked a CD player or DVD player to your TV, you likely used an RCA cable. A simple RCA cable has three color-coded plugs extending from one end of a cable that connects to three correspondingly colored jacks on the back of a TV, projector from Buydig.com or another output device. These old style cables carry audio and video signals from the component device to the output device. The two most common types of RCA cables are composite video and component. The colors used in composite RCA cables are usually red, yellow, and white cables for composite video. Composite video is analog, or non-digital, and carries all the video data in one signal. Because analog video is made up of three separate signals to begin with, squeezing them into one signal reduces the quality somewhat. Composite video isn’t designed to be used for high-definition analog or digital video signals. Component cables are more sophisticated cables that are sometimes used on HD TVs. Component cables have three video lines usually colored red, green and blue and two audio lines that are colored red and white or black. The two red lines usually have an additional color added to distinguish them. Component RCA cables are capable of much higher resolutions than composite video cables. Although an HDMI cable is a more modern way to connect devices, there are still plenty of opportunities to use RCA cables. An RCA cable can be used to connect a variety of audio and video devices, such as camcorders to TVs or stereos to speakers. Most high-end camcorders have all three RCA jacks, so the signal entering or leaving the camcorder goes through three separate channels resulting in a high-quality transfer. RCA cables transmit analog, or non-digital, signals. Because of this, they cannot be plugged directly into a computer or other digital device. RCA cables connect amplifiers to all sorts of devices.
What Is HDMI?
HDMI stands for “High-Definition Media Interface.” But, it’s not just a type of single cable, cord, or connector. It’s a technology standard that’s designed to transmit high-definition, high resolution, audio and video signals. HDMI is the best possible way to transmit those signals. This technology can deliver a pure, uncompressed digital signal with crystal-clear images and multi-channel audio with a high refresh rate. Also, one HDMI cable from Buydig.com can transmit both audio and video signals, which means you only need one single cable to complete the entire setup. HDMI inputs and outputs look exactly the same. These HDMI cable pin ports can be found on the back, sides, and sometimes front of newer consumer electronics. An HDMI output feeds high-definition audio and high resolution video into an HDMI compatible display via HDMI inputs. HDMI inputs are typically found on HDTVs, projectors, and AV receivers. These can accept the HD signal that’s coming out of your cable box, game console, Blu-ray player, or media streamer and display it.
Pros and Cons
We live in a high-definition world, and getting the highest video quality means using the best gear right down to the cables that connect your entertainment system. Both RCA component and HDMI work well, but of the two, HDMI is the better choice. It’s a single cable for both audio and video hook-up that delivers superior video quality, surround-sound audio quality, 3D support, and more, verses using many wires using RCA component connections. With an HDMI cable you get a single cable for both audio and video and high definition video output. Plus, HDMI connections are available on almost all newer products with a higher probability for future compatibility.
RCA use has declined to some degree in recent years due to the introduction of HD systems. This is because the RCA connection cannot carry a standard HD signal. However, despite this development, the use of RCA connections in electronics is still quite popular in many areas of function. In many DVD players, VHS players, video game consoles, and other connecting electronics, the RCA connection with its many wires still reigns as the dominant method of connection between the television set, or other displaying device, and the transmitting device. In closed circuit television systems, RCA is also still the favorite. Many security system feeds are run on RCA cable systems. So, why is RCA still so commonly used since HD technology burst onto the scene? Reliability and simplicity are the answers. RCA cable setups offer extremely reliable connections. As well, due to the inherent simplicity of their design, they’re simple to use and very affordable in comparison to other, current offerings in audio/video transmission wiring.
So, which is better, HDMI or RCA? It depends upon your source and display devices. There’s no good way to say in advance whether the digital or the analog connection will render a better picture. In most cases though, an RCA cable will be your go-to for old consoles and an old TV. Whereas, an HDMI cable will work best on a new 4K TV for the best video quality. You may even find that you get the best video quality on your DVD player through its HDMI output, while your satellite or cable box has the best video quality through its component output, on the same display. In this case, there’s no real substitute for simply plugging it in and giving it a try both ways.