How to Choose the Right Component Video Cable
Component video cables are right now one of the most sophisticated forms of cables sitting on the store shelves. They are considered the standard hookup method for high-definition televisions and home theater systems and score over the S-Video and composite cables because of their ability to support both high-definition and progressive scan signals. So you will obviously spare no effort to choose the right component video cable for your television and enjoy a realistic visual experience.
The kind of component video cable you buy depends on your A-V gear and the particular specifications of the cable.
Types of Component Video Cables
There are three primary types of component video cables:
- HDMI Cables: This is the most sophisticated of all types of component video cables because it can support both audio and high-definition video signals. It is a digital cable and as such the signals transmitted via them are not susceptible to interference by electromagnetic and radio frequency waves. Thus there is no loss of data on this count and you can enjoy a stellar quality of video on your television screen. It can be hooked up to a television and ideally a high-definition set, a computer, a DVD player, or a gaming console.
- DVI Cables: The DVI cable can support only a video signal. However, there are three types of DVI cables and they can transmit only analog signals (the DVI-A cable), only digital signals (the DVI-D cable), or both analog and digital signals (the DVI-I cable, where the “I” stands for “integrated”).
- VGA Cables: This kind of cable is used for VGA displays and is mostly brought by people who wish to add another monitor to their computers or television sets.
Your choice of a component video cable will be determined by the kind of equipment you want to connect it to. However, you also need to consider the particular make of the cable and its specific features before you make the purchase.
How to Determine the Quality of a Component Video Cable
The quality of a component video cable depends on several critical factors like impedance tolerance, the grade of shielding, the material used to make the center conductor, the connectors and the plugs and the quality of connection between them and the cable, and the length of the cable.
This is one of the most critical factors that impact the quality of the component video cable and the latter’s ability to provide a stunning visual experience. The characteristic impedance of the component video cable needs to at least closely match those of the input and output circuits of the video equipment. In case of severe mismatches, the images generated tend to get distorted with “ghosting” and/or “ringing” effects.
Impedance of a component video cable is expressed in ohms. But in reality, if a cable is marked as being 75 ohms, then it may be likely that it deviates by 0.5 ohm, 1.5 ohms, 5 ohms, or worse, 15 ohms. So when scouting for the highest grade of component video cable, check the technical specifications document and ensure that it specifies the amount of deviation from its characteristic impedance. The precision component video cables mention that they deviate by no more than 1.5 ohms but some of the superior-grade ones are found to deviate by as little as 0.5 ohm.
This is another critical factor in determining the quality of a component video cable. The signal being transmitted via a cable is susceptible to interference from a variety of electrical noises. These noises may stem from power circuits, fluorescent lights, computers, and televisions and can disrupt effective transmission of signals and this in turn, will distort video quality. The shielding on the cable prevents this interference. The quality and the composition of the shield determine how effective a cable is in thwarting the interference
Superior-grade component video cables come fitted with shields that consist of a heavy braid and a full-coverage foil that is generally made of aluminum. This type of shielding prevents interference from a broad spectrum of noises, ranging from the low-frequency hums to radio frequency waves.
Center Conductor Material
The material with which the conductor, located at the center of the component video cable, is made determines the effectiveness with which signals can be transmitted via the cable. Copper is the most commonly used conductor material and it is a very efficient conductor. However, while scouting for component video cables, you may come across cables with silver center conductors. Although silver is a little more conductive than copper, do not enable the retailer to get away with this by charging an exorbitant price for the cable.
A microscopically thin layer of silver as the conducting material and/or a small-gauged wire will offset any conductivity advantage you may have with a silver conductor. So even if you choose to select a component video cable with a silver center conductor, ensure that you also check the other mechanical features of the cable.
Length of the Cable
All the three cables that make up a component video cable should ideally be of equal length and the dielectric material on each should have equal consistency. The length of the cable determines the amount of time it needs to transmit a signal. When the three cables are of equal length, the signals reach the display device simultaneously and deliver a synchronized output.
Connectors and Plugs
You cannot purchase just the component video cable and not worry about its connections. To work efficiently, the cable should also be fitted with the apt plug, the choice of which again depends on the connector type of the video device.
The RCA connector is the most commonly used type of connector in a component video cable. You should choose crimp RCA plugs (as opposed to the solder-type RCA plugs) to glean the optimal performance from your component video cable. While making the purchase, make sure that it is plated with a non-corroding material like nickel or gold that imparts sturdiness and longevity to the part and in turn, facilitates optimal contact with the device jacks. The ideal plug should grip the jack firmly and at the same time, enable easy removal.
The above-mentioned pointers about component video cables should help you choose the one that suits your needs, is compatible with your A-V gear, and does not cost a fortune.