The Noticeable Differences in VGA & HDMI

by David Weedmark Google

    Most people have heard that using a High-Definition Multimedia Interface cable is better than using a Video Graphics Array cable, even if they don't know what the difference is exactly. VGA has been around for decades and is perfectly suited for transmitting video up to the point of needing high definition. Because of the way VGA technology works, it simply isn't capable of giving you the crisp images most people have come to expect from high-definition TVs and monitors and that are obtainable with an HDMI cable. However, if the images or video being transmitted is not in high-definition resolution, there is little difference in image quality using VGA.

    Comparing HDMI to VGA

    HDMI is the current leading standard when connecting high-definition equipment. This isn't just limited to TVs and computers. HDMI is used in cameras and camcorders, tablets, game consoles, smartphones and other similar electronics. In 2012, more than 1,200 leading electronics manufacturers shipped over 1 billion HDMI-enabled devices. HDMI technology is able to send digital signals at very high speeds, resulting in nearly flawless images. VGA is much older and has been an industry standard in the computer industry since the 1990s. It uses analog technology over three sets of wires -- red, green and blue -- to determine what appears on the monitor.

    Why Digital Is Better

    The basic difference between VGA and HDMI technology, is that VGA is an analog technology and HDMI is digital. Analog signals are like a series of waves, while digital signals are essentially a series of zeros and ones. When a computer sends video through a VGA cable to an LCD monitor, it converts the computer's digital language to an analog language and then the monitor converts it back to digital again. So there should be no surprise that there is some degradation when the signal is being translated twice. In addition to this, analog cables can add distortion to the signal, if they are too long or improperly shielded.

    Don't Forget the Audio

    High-definition images and video isn't the only benefit of HDMI technology. Unlike VGA, HDMI can transmit high-quality audio through the HDMI port. If you are connecting a computer or other device for streaming movies to a TV with a VGA cable, you need to connect additional cables from the computer's sound card to the audio jacks on the TV. Without those cables, you are limited to using the computer speakers for audio. This is a major reason why more and more electronics manufacturers are incorporating HDMI into multimedia devices rather than using only Digital Video Interface, which also does not transmit audio.

    VGA to HDMI Converters

    If you have an HDTV without a VGA port, you can still hook up VGA equipment such as a computer to it using a VGA to HDMI converter. VGA-to-HDMI converters like those made by Startech support up to 1080p high-definition video and have the added benefit of including an audio connector, meaning you can stream the sound of a video or game directly to your HDTV as well. Inexpensive cables claiming to convert VGA to HDMI should be viewed with skepticism. Your TV needs something to convert the analog VGA signals before the digital HDMI port can use them.

    About the Author

    David Weedmark's articles have appeared in dozens of publications since 1989, including "The Windsor Star" and "The Ottawa Citizen." As well as being a technology consultant, he is the author of several books, including "The Tanglewood Murders." Weedmark studied English at the University of Toronto.

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