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What are DVI and HDMI Connections?

Explanation of DVI and HDMI Connections

You may be seeing more and more products, mostly higher end models, equipped with DVI or HDMI connections. If you are wondering what these are, read on and we will tell you all about them and their benefits.

DVI stands for Digital Video Interface. Although it may seem like new technology, it has been around for a while in the PC industry. DVI is showing up on more and more home theater equipment, but it already has a replacement; HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface). The good news is, they are compatible technologies, so you can interconnect DVI and HDMI equipment with an adaptor.

Component, S-video and composite connections carry an analog signal. Even if you have a digital source and a digital TV, the signal will be converted to analog for these connections and then back to digital in the TV. Any time the signal is converted (processed) there is a chance for some degradation. DVI and HDMI, on the other hand, carry a digital signal, so no extra processing is required. This means you get the best possible signal to your television.

HDMI carries a digital audio signal in addition to the video signal and still has bandwidth for future enhancements. So HDMI is definitely the connection for the future of home theater. HDMI connectors resemble USB connectors (from the PC world) and their compactness make them more convenient than the larger DVI connectors.

If you have a DVI connection on your DVD player or cable box and a HDMI connection on your TV (or vice versa), this poses no problem. Purchase an adaptor for about $30 to interconnect these digital connections. The audio signal will require its own cables, unless you use an HDMI to HDMI connection.

So, do you really get a better picture with digital connections? Technically, yes, you get a better signal which should yield a better picture. But in practice, not everyone sees a difference. I tested a Motorola HD DVR set-top box and a Samsung DVD player with both the component connection and then with the DVI connection on a JVC D-ILA television (the TV actually has a HDMI connector, so an adaptor was used) and saw a small but noticeable difference. In viewing an HD program, I had to look very closely, but I could see a small improvement.

So which is better, DVI or HDMI? The video signal is identical with both, so neither offers an advantage. However, the digital audio signal, compact connector and room for future enhancement make HDMI the better choice.

Should you wait for more products with HDMI connections? If some desirable feature makes use of the available extra bandwidth in HDMI you may wish, in years to come, that you had waited. But the future always holds change in store, you can't just keep waiting. With what we know now, there is little reason to wait; the digital video connection is the most important feature.

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