The two main digital connectors used on computers and entertainment systems today are HDMI and DVI. Display Port 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 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.
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.
So Which Digital Cable is Best?
In our opinion, HDMI is the cable and connector to stick with. It’s the default connector on most devices and screens, compatible with HD content including HDCP protected Blu-ray, and can carry video, audio, and more all on one cable. One cable and you’re done. For now, it’s the cable and connector we recommend you standardize on.
Now, if you already have equipment using DVI, VGA, or other cables, and it works fine for you, don’t feel like you need to rush out and change it, because you don’t. You might get better quality from using digital cables if your devices support it, but unless you have a very large monitor or TV it can be hard to tell the difference. Technology companies thrive on making people feel like they constantly have to upgrade, but often if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is a good policy to follow.