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The back of a cable/satellite TV box can look like a nightmare to those unfamiliar with video connections. Don't fret, here we will go over what each connection means and how you should decide which to use. There are four common video connection options; coaxial, composite, s-video, and component. Depending on the cable/satellite TV service and your TV, DVI or HDMI connections may also be available.
Coaxial Cable – Coaxial cable is the ‘classic' single-connection way that you connect your television to the wall jack. These are the threaded cables that have been used for as long as there has been cable TV. The coaxial cable will transmit video as well as audio; however, the quality of both will suffer from this connection.
Composite – Composite cable is the next rung of the video connection ladder. The picture will be better then with a coaxial connection but not as good as s-video. One nice feature of composite is the cable supports both video and audio. Composite cable is the most common cable found inside the box of a new electronic purchase. The cable's connectors are red, white, and yellow (the red and white handle audio, while the yellow supports video).
S-Video – This type of connection transmits a video signal. When it comes to the video quality, s-video is a definite improvement over coaxial cable TV connections. You will see a far more precise picture with far sharper effects. Most televisions bought in the last five years will have an s-video outlet, but check just to be sure. When using an s-video cable you'll need a separate cable for you audio connection. Usually composite audio cables are used, these cables' connectors are typically red and white.
Component Video – For the next best video connection with cable/satellite TV and especially HDTV, you will want to use component video connections. These are actually made up of three separate connectors, usually labeled as red, green, and blue. These cables are more expensive, but the quality for both HDTV and DVD playback is the best available. Component cables only transmit video signals; so another cable is needed for audio. Once again the most common solution is the red and white composite audio cables mentioned above.
DVI & HDMI – These two connection options are the latest and greatest in the world of home theater, typically they are only available with satellite TV. DVI (Digital Video Interface) is a technology borrowed from the world of computers. It delivers a superior picture to even component cables, especially with HDTV, and also only transmits a video signal. HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) is a rare combination of cutting-edge technology and simplicity. It transmits top-notch video, same quality as DVI, and movie theater quality sound; all in one cable. DVI and HDMI are both relatively new technologies, so before you buy make sure your television has the inputs needed.
Once you've decided on which cables to use, make sure to buy high-quality cables made by a high-quality manufacturer. Monster Cables are some of the best and you won't be disappointed with any of their products.