A Buying Guide for SCART Extension Cables

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A Buying Guide for SCART Extension Cables

Users of electronic media devices are constantly inundated with new and better devices. Digital and high-definition televisions and Blu-ray players are connected using HDMI connectors rather than standard cables. Although this advanced technology provides better audio and video output, many users of electronic media devices still use standard-definition televisions, DVD players, and audio devices that communicate with each other by way of analogue signals. A standard SCART cable is the preferred choice of cable for connecting analogue devices.

SCART originated in France and has been primarily used in Europe since 1977. These cables are used to connect audio and video devices such as DVD players to televisions. SCART cables can conduct analogue audio as well as video signals. The 21-pin connector at the end of the cord connects to the device by way of a SCART socket. SCART extension cables connect electronic devices together, providing clean, solid connections. Choosing the right SCART extension cable for the job, requires the buyer know how SCART technology works, the uses for different types of SCART cables, and the limitations of SCART cables. Regardless of the SCART extension cable a buyer is looking for, he can find it on eBay.

SCART Technology

Before the development of SCART extension cables, there was no standard cable used to connect analogue televisions with other devices. There were a variety of cables available at the time and this caused problems because there were no standard connectors and video signals could vary from one device to the next. The advent of SCART simplified things immensely. With SCART, there is only one cable and it is capable of coordinating all of the analogue signals transmitted between devices.

A SCART cable uses a 21-pin connector, or plug, for connecting audio and video devices to a television. There needs to be a SCART port for each electronic device connected. The SCART cable is inserted into the SCART port. If no port is available, an adaptor is required. Once the SCART extension cable is connected to the port, the different types of analogue signals are combined and transmitted along a single cable. These signals include composite video signals, S-Video signals, and RGB video signals.

Composite Video Signals

Composite video signals are low quality output signals. This is due to the signal interference caused by bringing all the different video signals together. These different signals, including luminance and chrominance, which refer to the image's brightness and colour respectively, are not separated when transmitted as composite video signals. Composite video signals blend the signals together, creating signal interference.

S-Video Signals

S-Video signals provide a higher quality display output than composite video signals. S-Video signals also include luminance and chrominance signals similar to composite video signals, but instead of blending the signals together, S-Video signals separate the luminance and chrominance signals. This separation prevents the signal interference found in composite video signals, ensuring higher quality video output.

RGB Video Signals

RGB video signals also provide a higher quality video output similar to S-Video signals. RGB stands for the red, green, and blue colours used in displaying a picture on a television. The three colours, or channels, transmit separate video signals to the television. SCART extension cables simplify this process by pulling the three channels together into a single cable and conducting the video signals to the connected TV.

Connecting SCART Extension Cables and Analog Devices

Most SCART extension cables have a male connector or plug on one end of the cable, and a male plug or connector on the other end of the cable. The male connector on the extension cable plugs into the female socket on the electronic device. This allows the SCART extension cable to connect the electronic device to a television by connecting or plugging the SCART extension cable into the electronic device's SCART socket and then plugging the SCART extension cable into the television's SCART socket.

The SCART extension cable can be two-way, three-way, and even five-way, depending on the number of electronic devices needing to be connected to the television. Many three-way and five-way SCART extension cables have a female socket box for connecting other electronic devices. Some two-way SCART extension cable setups have two male output connectors on one end of the cable and a male output connector on the opposite end. Regardless of the different configurations, the two basic types of SCART extension cables are similar, except for their connectors. The connectors influence the overall quality of the picture display and price of the cables.

Types of SCART Extension Cables

There are two basic types of SCART extension cables used to connect audio and video devices: standard SCART extension cables and high-end SCART extension cables. Their lengths can vary from one metre up to 25 metres, depending on the length of the extension required.

Standard SCART Extension Cables

Standard SCART extension cables are the basic, most common SCART extension cables used to connect audio and video devices to a television. Because they do not have gold-plated connectors but standard metal connectors, they output a lower quality picture output. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to high-end SCART extension cables.

High-End SCART Extension Cables

High-end SCART extension cables output a higher quality picture display than standard SCART extension cables. The gold-plated connectors provide better audio and video signal transmission, especially for use with high-definition televisions, resulting in a clearer picture. High-end SCART extension cables are also a lot more expensive than standard SCART extension cables. Because SCART extension cables are mainly used with older electronic devices that receive analogue signals, such as standard-definition televisions and VHS VCRs, there is little difference in picture quality when comparing the two types of SCART extension cables. For this reason, a standard, SCART extension cable is just as suitable as a high-end SCART extension cable for playback with these devices. The main difference is the price.

The following table highlights general differences between standard and high-end SCART extension cables. These differences are in the areas of connector quality, picture output, and cost.

SCART Cable

Connector Quality

Picture Output

Cost

Standard

Metal pins

Lower for HD devices, average-to-high for analogue devices

Inexpensive

High-end

Gold-plated pins

Higher for HD devices, high for analogue devices

Very expensive

The table above illustrates the basic differences between the two types of SCART extension cables. The buyer should remember that standard SCART extension cables provide about the same quality display on much older televisions and electronic devices as high-end SCART extension cables. The buyer should consider the cost and purpose for the SCART extension cables before making a purchase.

Additional Uses for SCART Extension Cables

Standard SCART extension cables for composite video signals also use a bi-directional connector for sending and receiving specific commands. This connector is convenient for utilising pay television functions and set-top boxes. A set-top box, connected to the television through the use of a SCART extension cable connector, receives a signal from a device such as a DVD player, interprets the signal, and sends it to the television for output. For example, a DVD player can be connected to a set-top box and a television through a SCART extension cable. When the DVD player is turned off, the SCART extension cable transmits the command signal to the set-top box which interprets the command and forwards it to the television for translation. In comparison, the television can also send audio and video signals to electronic devices through the set-top box connected to the SCART extension cable.

If there is more than one SCART connector on an electronic device such as a television, they can be daisy chained together with other SCART connectors on other electronic devices using several SCART extension cables. This setup allows the audio and video signals to be transmitted to the device in use, bypassing the devices that are idle. For example, a television can be commanded by more than one device such as a DVD player or VCR, but it switches back and forth between the two device signals, depending on which device is currently being used.

Limitations of SCART Extension Cables

Despite their current popularity and the convenience of SCART extension cables, there are also some limitations to the technology. SCART extension cables are mainly for use with analogue televisions, not high-definition televisions. When SCART extension cables attempt to transmit high-definition signals to high-definition televisions, by converting the signals to analogue signals, the result is often a lower quality picture.

SCART extension cables that produce a higher quality picture normally use small coax cables rather than plain wire for transmitting the video signal. Inexpensive SCART extension cables that use wire produce a shortened length of cable, creating a lower quality picture output. This shortened length contributes to signal interference between different transmission channels, producing a ghosting effect on the TV screen.

Buying SCART Extension Cables on eBay

eBay offers a wide variety of SCART extension cables compatible with a variety of devices and configurations. They can be used to connect electronic devices such as DVD players, VCRs, game consoles, and even computers. These extension cables come in different lengths and price points. eBay also offers SCART extension cables that may not be found at regular electronics or retail stores.

Shopping for SCART extension cables on eBay is quite simple. The buyer simply enters 'SCART extension cable' in the search bar on the eBay home page. This action directs the buyer to a page of listings for SCART extension cables. The buyer can select a particular listing and read its description or sort the listings by the length of the cable, the brand of the SCART extension cable, the type of connectors, and the condition of the cable. If you are in the market for used SCART cables, it pays to ask the seller questions about the used cable. You should also look for close-up photos of the connectors, or plugs, in the item listings. Take note of any obvious signs of wear and tear to the insulation and look to see if any of the pins in the connectors, are bent damaged or missing. If you have any questions for the seller, you can reach them by going into their profile page and clicking on the contact link.

Conclusion

In today's electronics age, simplification and convenience are important when setting up a connection process for electronic devices. Too many cables with different connectors, extending to different electronic devices, can be confusing for the user who simply wants to enjoy the benefits devices without the hassle of setting the whole thing up. SCART extension cables can simplify the process of connecting these different devices by using a single cable rather than multiple cables to pull together the different analogue signals. They are especially suited in connecting older analogue televisions and electronic devices together.

In Europe, SCART extension cables are the most popular means of connecting different electronic devices such as a DVD player, CD player, VCR, or game console to a television or other device. Despite the advent of HDMI connectors for high-definition and digital televisions, their convenience, versatility, and ease of use still make SCART extension cables the preferred choice in connecting together separate analogue devices into a single home entertainment system.

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