There is a long history of video cable signal standards. In 1956 we were introduced to the analog Composite Video that put out a resolution of 720 x 480i @ 59.94 Hz. Since then we ve had many popular standards such as S-Video, VGA, and Component video, Digital Visual Interface (DVI), High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and most recently DisplayPort.
The big question everyone has is which one is the best? We can pretty much drop Composite Video and S-Video from the list, since they can t even put out HD quality. That leaves the main contenders as HDMI, DVI, Component video and DisplayPort.
Let s analyze each one briefly, starting with Component video. It is true that these cables can do 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz. However, that s all they can do. With the way technology has been going, there is no doubt that 1080p will take a back seat to the next resolution jump. It s inevitable, really. When that happens, Component video cables will most likely be tossed aside.
On the other hand, there is one advantage to Composite video. Of the leading cables it is the only analog cable which most people may automatically think is beneath them. Digital cables have their weaknesses too. That weakness is that digital cables have to be specifically tailored to their length. You wouldn t want to use an HDMI cable designed to work normally at 15 feet and add another 10 feet. If you did, you d run into what s called the digital cliff . That basically adds a sparkly effect to your picture after so many extra feet and then you may get complete picture loss after so many more feet. Composite video, for the moment, has its niche for those that don t want to pay for the much more expensive optical cables. As digital cables advance, it s pretty much guaranteed that some cable nerd will figure out a way around that, and then it won t matter.
That said, we have left the more comparable DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. All three have HDCP which is the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection encryption but only HDMI has it as a mandatory part of the specification. That s probably the reason so many manufacturers have jumped on that boat. HDCP will help protect against black market video pirating and make it so that people will have to come clean or figure out a way to hack the unhackable HDCP. DVI can put out up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz. HDMI and Display port can do the same resolution but at 75 Hz. HDMI also can do 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz.
DVI has a pretty firm grasp on the computer display world and has dabbled in video cards, but there s nothing like HDMI for the rest of the consumer electronics world. The big push that HDMI is making is for TVs, there is even some that only have HDMI connections. DisplayPort is supposed to be a major player against HDMI but so far they are mostly going after the computer display and video card market which, as mentioned, is dominated by DVI.
The conclusion is that they are all four straddling the same line, as far as 1080p goes. Since that s where the content market is right now, it s really hard to say which is better. The reality is that HDMI is the growing standard for most electronic devices. It is at the peak of speed and resolution. It also has the most support, with the exception of the computer world that has been slower to adopt it. HDMI for the time being is where everything is headed, which makes it the most future proof. If you are looking to buy HDMI cables, check out Herman Street to find the best ones for you.