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What’s the Difference Between Digital Cables?
Oct 12, 2018

The two main digital connectors used on computers and entertainment systems today are HDMI and DVI.  DisplayPort is another newer connector that’s being included on some newer computers, and there are also several mini and micro variants of all three.  Confused yet?  Here’s how to know which is which:


DVI

DVI is one of the most common digital video cables you’ll see on desktops and LCD monitors today.  It’s the most similar to VGA connectors, with up to 24 pins and support for analog as well as digital video.  DVI can stream up to 1920×1200 HD video, or with dual-link DVI connectors you can support up to 2560×1600 pixels.  Some DVI cables or ports may include fewer pins if they are designed for lower resolution devices, so you’ll need to watch for this.  If your port contains all the pins, however, it can support the max resolution with no problem.  The biggest problem with DVI is that it doesn’t support HDCP encryption by default, so if your hardware only includes DVI ports, you may not be able to playback full HD Blu-rays and other HD content.

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DVI to HDMI convertor

You can connect DVI to an HDMI port on a newer monitor with a small digital convertor.  However, since DVI doesn’t support audio, you’ll need to use a separate cable for audio when connecting to an HDMI port.This makes DVI one of the more versatile newer connectors.  It’s both backwards and forward compatible, though at the loss of some convenience.  You can also connect an older monitor that only includes a VGA port with a DVI port easily via a similar DVI to VGA converter if your video output supports analog video.

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HDMI

HDMI is the default cable on newer HDTVs, Blu-ray players, Apple TV, many new computers and video cards, and a multitude of other video devices.  HDMI cables and ports are very easy to use, and are almost as easy to connect as USB devices.  No more bent pins; just push and play.  HDMI cables can stream digital video and audio simultaneously over the same cable.  HDMI cables support up to 1920×1200 HD video and 8 channel audio.  They also support HDCP encryption for the newest HD content.  For almost all purposes, a single HDMI cable is all you’ll need to connect your computer or video device to your monitor or TV, and it’s almost the absolute standard digital cable.

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