How to Buy Component Video Cables

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How to Buy Component Video Cables

The primary motivating factor behind transitioning to digital television and owning an HDTV is the enhanced picture quality. When a consumer wishes to use an HDTV, the output device, to view programming that comes from a cable or satellite box or streaming device, the input device, a connection between the two elements is required. This connection is in the form of a cable or a set of cables. Whereas some audiovisual set-ups use an HDMI cable to transmit all picture and sound information through one cable, there are times when it is necessary or ideal to use component video cables, such as when there is a limited number of HDMI ports or perhaps none at all.

Component video cables are also used for computer monitors and video game consoles. Before buying component cables, consumers should first be able to specify which type of equipment that the cables are for. It helps if the buyer has basic knowledge of what component video is and how it works. The buyer should easily be able to identify component cables and other types of cables in order to make a selection, particularly when products are mislabelled. Finally, being able to describe the connections on each end of the cable ensures that the hook-up goes off without a hitch.

Component Video Explained

A discussion of photographic and video images should always begin with the human eye. The human eye adjusts to light and dark conditions via rod and cone cells. Chemical reactions are stimulated by either light or the absence of light, allowing the eye to see no matter how much light is present. In the dark, rods predominate, producing nearly black-and-white images. In brightly lit environments, the cones are able to function, allowing humans to see in vivid colour.

Cones are sensitive to red, green, and blue (RGB) light. The intensity values of the red, green, and blue can be adjusted to produce any colour. Anyone who has done web design or graphic art knows that colours can be determined by using an RGB slider, and the final tint or shade is determined by three numbers, each one indicating the value for red, green, and blue.

RGB Signals

RGB requires a great deal of bandwidth because of the quantity of data. To make image production more efficient, the colour information is condensed into what is called component video, which is comprised of three signals: a brightness indicator (value Y), a red light indicator (value R-Y), and a blue light indicator (value B-Y). There is no green signal because this can be determined by simple algebra using the R-Y and B-Y values.

Consumers should be aware that these signals may have slightly different names; in some cases, the designations are Y (brightness) along with Pb (blue) and Pr (red) or Cb and Cr. Other naming conventions exist as well; simply look for the letters "B" and "R" to indicate the two colour cables, and the third should not include either of these letters.

Composite Video

Because of the bandwidth required to transmit RGB data, television broadcasting required further compression. In the United Kingdom and much of Europe, this compression system is known as Phase Alternating Line (PAL). The television set included a decoder to convert these signals back into visible images. The resulting format is referred to as composite video. Buyers should take care not to confuse "composite" with "component" cables, not only because of the similarity between the two names but also because both consist of a three-cable arrangement. A good way to remember the difference is to think of individual components as being separate pieces as in the division of red, blue, and green as opposed to a composite being something that is made up of different pieces as in a composite of all signals in one cable.

LaserDiscs and VHS cassette tapes contain video signals in composite format. The signals on DVDs, on the other hand, are in component format. This means that because the video signals on DVDs result in higher-quality images because, without having undergone this second compression process, less signal information has been lost. To sum up, component video is a step up from composite video in terms of picture quality. A viewer can certainly watch a DVD through composite connections, but the full potential of the image quality cannot be obtained in this manner.

Now that the national digital conversion is complete, television programmes are broadcast digitally. More electronics feature component video hook-ups, and so even without a video player, such as a DVD player, component cables may play a factor when connecting the television to the programme source.

Component Video Cables vs. Other Cables

A consumer can identify a component video cable by the triple arrangement of red, blue, and green cables. If the component video cables come with audio connections as well, there are five cables. If not, the consumer must purchase additional connectors for audio. The following chart illustrates the basic differences among common video connectors in order from lowest quality to highest quality.

Cable Type


Typical Connection



Three cables: red, yellow, and white; one for video, two for left and right audio

RCA jacks and cables


S-Video (separated video or super video)

One cable for video; no audio; separate cable(s) needed

A mini DIN-plug, usually round with pins



Three cables for video: red, green, and blue; five cables total with audio included

RCA jacks and cables



One cable for both video and audio

A DIN plug, usually rectangular with pins


It should be noted that component cables are indeed an analogue method of signal transfer although they are capable of transferring digital signals. HDMI is pure digital transfer. Most pieces of audiovisual equipment do not accept all four types of input. Older devices are likely to feature only composite and possibly S-video. Newer electronics may have only component and HDMI connection options. Ideally, the consumer chooses the highest level of quality capable with the appliances at hand. This depends on both the input and output device.

Component vs. Composite Cables

In truth, there is little to no difference in the production of component and composite cables. The connectors are colour-coded for easy hook-up, but this does not indicate that each connector or cable functions differently. In fact, a consumer who has composite cables on hand can use them for a high-definition hook-up although it may take a little extra brain power to keep the colours straight. What really matters is not the cable colours or even the cables themselves but the connection of the signal from the input device to the correct area on the output device, which can interpret that signal.

Cable Connection Types

When buying component video cables, the consumer must be careful to get the correct connectors as well. Often, both ends feature RCA connectors, which are basic one-prong plugs that stick into a single hole. Computer monitors and video games may feature a DIN, USB, or proprietary connector at one end. Be sure to make note of which type of connection is required at each end. In addition, the consumer should be able to specify whether the connection needs to be male with projecting prongs or pins or female with holes or receptacles.

Where to Find Component Video Cables

Component video cables are available at most retailers that sell electronics. Examples of such retailers are not only specialty electronics shops but also discount shops, home improvement shops, and office supply shops. You can find electronics accessories, such as cables on the Internet as well, through retailers, classified advertisements, and online auction sites.

How to Buy Component Video Cables on eBay

When you buy component video cables on eBay, you can take advantage of the site’s well-organised directory to search for the right cables for all your equipment. Whether you need component video cables for computers tablets & networking or video games & consoles, you can quickly navigate to the correct items from the homepage.

If you have a specific idea of what you want, such as cables for a particular brand of equipment, you might want to take advantage of the keyword search function. To do this, start at the homepage and enter a word or phrase into the search field. You might type "7 m component video cable" or "Apple HDMI cable". Whichever method you choose, you can use further category filters or keyword searches to continue narrowing down your selections. Click as many specifications as you want, or type in additional descriptors. After doing so, be sure to read thoroughly about the item and the seller before buying.


When it comes to electronics that involve any sort of video output, such as computer monitors, television sets, and game consoles, the consumer most likely wants the highest-quality picture obtainable from the equipment. Some equipment features more than one type of video connection, so if the consumer wants the best picture, he or she should go with the best connection possible given the input and output devices and their capabilities. For many people converting to high-definition video, component video cables are the way to go. Component video is better than composite and S-video but not as good as video obtained through an HDMI connection.

A buyer can identify component video cables by the triple arrangement of red, green, and blue connectors. In some cases where audio cables are supplied in the same set, there are five cables included. Most often, the cables feature male connector types while the equipment features female connections. The most common connectors for component video cables are RCA plug-style connectors although buyers may see some other connector types on specialised video gaming and computer equipment. Component video connections allow for high-quality images to be displayed on a monitor, whether it is a television set, computer, or video game monitor. Upgrading to equipment that allows for component video signal transmission means that pictures are clearer, sharper, brighter, and more colourful.

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