A Buyers Guide to Terminated Interconnects

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A Buyer's Guide to Terminated Interconnects

In today's world, electronic devices are so ubiquitous that most people think nothing of having a dozen items all connected to each other in order to provide audio, video, or other entertainment. The means of connecting a television to a Blu-ray player, or a computer to a monitor, is performed by using a terminated interconnect, also known as a cable. Interconnects come in a number of sizes and styles, with different ends designed to fit into different devices.

Interconnects are purchased in electronics stores, but in many cases, these interconnects are far more expensive than they might be otherwise, and for this reason, many buyers choose to look on eBay. When buying a terminated interconnect, it is helpful to understand how a terminated interconnect is made and how they function. From there, it is easier to gain a better understanding of what kinds of cables there are, and whether or not it is an audio, video, or computer cable. The next step is to evaluate the features commonly found in interconnects. Studying this information can help make any buyer much more informed and ready to make a wise purchase.

The Nature of a Terminated Interconnect

The main difference between a terminated interconnect and other types of cables, is that a terminated interconnect is designed to transfer a signal, rather than to power a device. This sets a terminated interconnect apart from a speaker cable, which, while it does transmit an audio signal, also serves to power the speaker.

Inside a Terminated Interconnect

In order to transmit a signal from one device to another, in theory, all that would be needed is a long wire made from a suitable conductor, like copper. In practice, the signal is prone to degradation and interference from radio signals and electromagnetic fields produced by electronic devices, power lines, among many other things.

Shielding

In order to combat interference, interconnects are made with several layers of shielding. In some cases, there is a layer of foam directly touching the conductor that keeps it free from corrosion. Then, there are usually layers of braided copper and foil underneath. These shields are designed to specifically combat interference from radio signals and electromagnetic fields. There are other types of shields, and more expensive interconnects, may have three or four layers of shielding included. Shielding is rated with a percentage, the higher the percentage, the better the shielding. The conductor and the shielding are protected by what is called the jacket, which is usually made with PVC rubber, or something just as flexible. Some interconnects have a fireproof jacket, but this can raise the price significantly.

Types of Terminated Interconnects

Although the primary goal of all terminated interconnects that transmit a signal is the same, there are several varieties of interconnects available. The interior of each of these types of cables is generally the same, and the main difference comes in terms of the connector. Some connectors are designed for audio, some for video, and some for both. There are also interconnects designed to be used with computers as well.

Audio Interconnects

There are several varieties of audio interconnects. For the most part, these are designed to transmit data from between devices, for example a Blu-ray player to a television. They are also used to connect audio devices like an MP3 player or CD player, to a device that can play the music, like a stereo receiver. Audio interconnects are typically not connected to speakers, since this requires cables that provide power as well as an audio signal.

Analogue Audio

Analogue audio cables are those that are designed to transmit a signal from each audio channel. For the most part, one of these cables is red, and the other, white. In some cases the colouring is on or near the connector, with the rest black. Analogue interconnects are fairly inexpensive, but do not offer the highest quality audio signal. In many cases, these interconnects are paired with a yellow cable, designed for composite video. These types of interconnects were popular with VCR and DVD players, but are not as common with the rise of digital audio.

Digital Audio

A digital audio interconnect is usually a single cable that looks much like an analogue interconnect, but has a far greater capacity for transmitting information, and usually contains better shielding. A digital interconnect carries the signal for both channels of stereo audio, so only one is needed to connect one device to another.

Jacks

Jacks are a common and inexpensive way to connect audio from a portable device to a larger device with speakers. Jacks come in two varieties and sizes. Stereo jacks are similar to the jacks used for headphones and are mainly used by CD and MP3 players. A stereo jack is split into distinct parts, so as to better transmit multiple audio channels. Mono jacks only transmit a single channel of audio, and are mainly used for instruments like electric guitars to connect with amplifiers and audio recording devices. Mono jacks are usually twice as large as stereo jacks due to the nature of their use.

Video Interconnects

Video interconnects come in multiple varieties, and vary widely in quality. Since video signals contain more information than audio signals, video interconnects are often larger, and more complex.

Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cables have been used for decades to connect various devices like VCRs and video game consoles to televisions. Coaxial cables actually carry the audio signal as well, but even with this configuration, the signal is of lower quality than it is with other interconnects. The nature of a coaxial cable also means that it can only carry a mono audio signal, rather than a stereo signal.

Composite Video

Composite video interconnects are generally yellow in colour and carry a better signal than a coaxial cable, but recently have been supplanted by the popularity of other video interconnects.

S-Video

S-Video interconnects actually split the video signal into two parts in order to better clarify it and keep it free of corruption and interference. S-Video is a popular type of interconnect for professionals, and it is often used to transmit a video signal from a computer, such as a laptop or desktop to a monitor or television.

Component Video

Component video is extremely popular and is commonly used to connect video game consoles and Blu-ray players to televisions. Component video interconnects split the video signal into three parts in order to ensure a very high video quality. For the most part, component interconnects are coloured red, blue, and green. It should be noted that only devices with proper ports for component video can make use of them. Component video is not compatible with composite video ports.

HDMI

HDMI is an acronym that stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI is used frequently for larger HD televisions and HD media devices like Blu-ray players, as well as computers with high-end video cards. Not only can HDMI interconnects transmit high definition video, they can also transmit twelve channels of audio, so separate audio interconnects are unnecessary.

Computer Interconnects

Computers frequently make use of terminated interconnects to communicate with monitors and televisions, as well as with storage devices and other items like cameras.

DVI

DVI is similar to HDMI in that the video signal is of the highest possible quality. The differences between DVI and HDMI, is that DVI does not transmit audio, so it is commonly used with computers to connect with HD monitors for the highest quality for videos and gaming.

VGA

VGA is a somewhat outdated type of interconnect that transmits video from a computer to a monitor. VGA is only capable of transmitting video, so a computer must have separate interconnects for audio devices. In some cases, monitors and projectors can only accept a VGA connection, so while there are better interconnects, VGA interconnects are still commonly available.

USB

USB cables are popular for connecting devices like cameras, printers, and other computer peripherals to computers. USB cables are designed primarily to transmit data at a rate of 12 Mbps, which means that in some cases audio and video are transmitted, but this is usually an inefficient use of a USB cable.

FireWire

FireWire is like USB in that it is mostly designed to transmit data, but the speed of a FireWire connection is much higher. A FireWire interconnect can transmit up to 400 Mbps, which means that it is a good choice for connecting digital video cameras to a computer or portable hard drive for editing or storage.

Finding The Right Terminated Interconnect

Terminated interconnects share a similar structure and purpose, but some of them have features that others do not. For example, some interconnects feature gold plating on the connectors. This is done so as to prevent corrosion, rather than for greater speed or efficiency. If the interconnect is going to be used in an extremely humid climate or somewhere where copper is likely to oxidise rapidly, these types of interconnects are quite useful. Otherwise, they are simply more expensive versions of the same thing. There are other features found in terminated interconnects that may look good, but serve no real purpose. More important is to look at the shield percentage, and the durability of the connector. If both of these are of high quality, the interconnect should last for a long time.

Buying Terminated Interconnects on eBay

Terminated interconnects are among the thousands of products available from sellers on eBay, in most cases at very affordable prices. You can choose not only between different types of interconnects, but from different manufacturers and from interconnects with different features as well. Finding the different products available on eBay is simply a matter of entering a search term, like 'terminated interconnects' into the search bar on the eBay home page. Searches using other names for interconnects, like 'cables' may also bear fruit during your search.

Examine Each Product Carefully

Every item for sale on eBay has a product description. This allows you to get a better sense of what each product is capable of, and what the features are, such as the shield percentage and construction of the connectors. Reading the product description carefully and thoroughly is one of the best ways to ensure that a purchase on eBay is a satisfying one.

Conclusion

Terminated interconnects are an important part of everyday life, and are becoming more important as many people are judging their entertainment systems on how clear the picture is, and how sharp the audio is. Terminated interconnects are designed to transmit data from one device to another without any interference from electromagnetic radiation, or loss of data due to corruption. For this reason, many interconnects have many layers of shielding.

There are an astonishing number of different types of interconnects that range from those that are designed to transmit audio at a basic level, to those that carry both HD video and audio at the highest possible quality. There are also interconnects designed to be used with computers in order to transmit pure data such as large files and programmes between computers as is the case with a digital video camera and an editing console. Making certain that an interconnect has adequate shielding and a durable connector is the best way to make certain that the interconnect lasts for a long time.

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