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Plasma TV Video Connector Guide
Table of contents
Before you can sit down and start enjoying your brand new plasma TV, there are a few essential things you need to do. One of the most important is connecting your plasma TV to your signal source devices, such as the cable, antenna, DVD player or gaming console. In general, a plasma TV will provide several video connector inputs for compatibility. In this guide we’ll introduce the video connector types and what they do.
Video connectors are used to transmit and receive video signals, which are then converted into images displayed on the plasma TV. Here are the most common:
RF (Radio Frequency)
Current plasma TVs provide at least one RF connector to receive TV signals from an analog cable or antenna. Of course, the RF connector can be used to connect with some VCRs or game consoles as well. The RF connector also carries the audio signal, thus the connection is simple, meaning that there is no need to connect separate video and audio cables separately. On the plasma TV, the RF connector is often labeled as "Antenna", "CATV", or "TV-in".
Composite video is an older, but still very frequently used analog connector on the plasma TV. When carrying video signals, the composite video connector combines the luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) signals in a single channel, thus the video quality is not quite up to the level of the S-Video or component connector. The composite video connector is yellow, and is usually marked as "Video" on the plasma TV.
As another very frequently used connector on the plasma TV, S-Video can provide cleaner video quality than composite video, as it separates the luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) signals in order to avoid possible interference between the two to enhance signal quality. The S-Video connector is a small, round input jack with four pins on it, and is usually marked "S-Video" on the TV. On the DVD player, game console, digital TV set-top box, and satellite receiver, the S-Video port is almost a must have connector, which is why most plasma TVs will provide this connector no questions asked.
The component video connectors are three jacks colored green, blue and red, and often marked as Y, Pb, and Pr respectively on plasma TV. The component video signal is split and compressed into separate luminance (Y) and (two) color values including red minus luminance (R-Y) and blue minus luminance (B-Y). Depending on that, component video can offer image quality exceeding S-Video. As a result, component video provides an interface to link the plasma TV with the high definition devices.
The D-Sub connector is a standard 15-pin computer monitor connector that carries an analog RGB (Red, Green, Blue) signal. This connector is easily recognized and is marked "PC", "RGB", "VGA", or "D-Sub". With the D-Sub connector, a plasma TV can be connected with not only the computer, but some game consoles, and digital TV set-top receivers.
The DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connector on the plasma TV is usually of the DVI-D variety, meaning it carries a 100% digital video signal. The image quality it can offer is certainly higher than D-Sub and component, as there is no need to convert the digital video signals to analog between the plasma TV and the digital source. In addition, the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) technology is often applied on DVI to protect digital entertainment content, and only an HDCP licensed plasma TVs will be able to receive and display HDCP protected digital contents normally.
The HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) connector is a relatively new digital connector that carries both high definition digital video and a maximum of 8 channels of uncompressed digital audio signals, which are transferred over a single cable. HDMI will eventually replace DVI, and will be the standard connector on high definition devices, such as HD DVD and Blu-ray disc players, digital set-top boxes, and the Sony Playstation 3 game console. Plasma TVs equipped with the HDMI connector are compatible with these high definition devices. HDCP is applied on HDMI as well, and only HDCP licensed plasma TVs can receive and display the HDCP protected digital contents.
IEEE 1394 is also called as "Firewire" or "i.Link". IEEE 1394 is capable of carrying both digital video and audio signals. On the plasma TV, IEEE 1394 connectors can be used for input and output to compatible High Definition devices such as a DVD recorder or Digital Video Recorder.
Connecting the plasma TV to other devices is easy. Just make sure you use the right cable for the right signal. For example, if an S-Video connector is available on both your plasma TV and the DVD player, then you can use an S-Video cable to connect the two S-Video inputs to make the connection between them. Most probably, you will find several connection methods available between your plasma TV and device, which means you need to decide on which connection you should use.
If all the connectors available are able to match the resolution of the video output, then the connector providing the best picture quality should be used. Please refer to the Video Connector descriptions for full information, or refer to the table below for quick reference:
Last but not least, it is important not mix up the input and output video connectors. The input connector on the plasma TV receives video signals from other devices - they need to be connected to the output connectors on other devices. Similarly, the output connector on a plasma TV transmits video signals to other devices, and should be connected to the input connector on other devices. Input and output connectors are usually marked “IN” and “OUT” respectively.