Do I Need HDMI Cables for My HD TV?

A high-definition television set picks broadcast signals out of the air and changes them to pictures and sounds without any external inputs other than electricity and an antenna. So you don't need any additional cables to use an HDTV. However if you want to integrate it into a home entertainment system, you need cables to connect to other components. Some may be HDMI but not necessarily so.

  1. HDMI

    • High-Definition Multimedia Interface was developed in 2002 to provide a single, all-digital uniform connection from one component to another in a home entertainment system. One HDMI cable carries the high-definition television signal, up to eight channels of audio and an Ethernet channel that provides an Internet connection to all components in the system that may need support. The cable has a 19-pin connector for most home entertainment system applications. HDMI cables should be used to obtain the best quality video and audio on a high-definition system.

    Components

    • Components that may have HDMI ports include the HDTV itself, a cable or satellite receiver, DVD player, digital recorder, Blu-ray player, game console or computer with an HDMI graphics card. If these devices support HDMI, they have the port and you can use an HDMI cable to connect them to your TV. But most components also have one or more other format outputs to allow them to be used in systems that don't support HDMI.

    Other Formats

    • A video signal contains five signals: synchronization, brilliance and three signals for the levels of the primary luminance colors red, blue and green. The composite video format combines all signals into one for a single cable connection. S-video keeps the synchronization and brilliance on the Y signal and the color information on the C signal. Component video sends the sync, brilliance and green on the Y signal, red information on the Cr signal and blue on the Cb signal. System components may support one or more of these formats.

    Other Cables

    • Composite video connects to your HDTV with a single coaxial cable with RCA "push-in" connectors for the video and two more for the audio. Some manufacturers fuse three cables together for a "composite video" cable. S-video connects with a special cable with four-pin jacks for the Y and C video signals and two additional RCA cables for the audio. Component video connects with five RCA cables: three for the video signals Y, Cr and Cb and two more for the audio. Some manufacturers fuse the three video cables together for a "component video" cable.

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