Knowing all the kinds of digital input from one another can be particularly taxing, especially when trying to make purchases or simplify decisions on comparisons. Thankfully, we’ve decided to go over to of the most prevalent inputs – DVI vs HDMI in order to clear up what all the fuss is about.

A Quick Primer Of DVI And HDMI

In order to look at DVI vs HDMI, first off, we’re going to talk about DVI, and how those types of input work. Down below, we’ve tried to explain in thorough enough detail, while at the same time, not being overly wordy, so as to avoid confusion!

A DVI is an interface that can send digital or analog video between devices, but the many different types of DVI cables available can sometimes get confusing. But let’s not worry. We'll show you how to choose the right cable. DVI comes in three basic types: DVI-A, DVI-I and DVI-D. And of these three, DVI-A and DVI-D can come in either single link or dual link versions.

So what's the difference between the single link and dual link? To keep it simple, the main difference is that single link connections use only one signal transmitter and can handle resolutions up to 1920x1200, while dual link uses 2 transmitters, allowing resolutions of 2560x1600. In other words, dual ink is better.

The way to tell a dual link from a single cable is that a single link uses 2 groups of 9 pins, while dual ink uses 3 rows of 8 pins. So now let's take a look at DVI-A. This connection carries an analog signal and it can support VGA signals with simple adapters or cables, but it doesn't support digital signals like HDMI. The quickest way to identify a DVI-A a is the 4 pins surrounding the horizontal pin.

These pins are often referred to as analog pins. Also, it only has 4 pins on the right section and 8 pins on the middle section. DVI-A is only available in single link. Next we have the DVI-D connection.

This connection only supports digital video and is not compatible with VGA or any other analog signals, but it can easily be converted to HDMI with a simple adapter.

The easiest way to identify a DVI-D cable is it does not have the 4 analog pins around the horizontal pin. And now we have the DVI-I or integrated connection. DVI-I can support both digital and analog signals.

DVI-I cables have the 4 analog pins surrounding horizontal pin and also have 3 rows of 8 pins for dual link, or the two groups of 9 pins for a single link. And that's how you can tell between the different types of DVI connections.


Now for HDMI. First off, what does HDMI stand for? HDMI stands for high definition multimedia interface and HDMI is probably the most frequently used with HD signal interface, transmitting both high definition video and audio over a single cable. HDMI is used both in the commercial AV sector and is certainly the cable of choice for the home entertainment market.

As we all try to connect more and more devices, such as digital TV, DVD, Blu-ray, Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV and more into our television.

So, we're seeing more and more home AV devices being connected, using this simple effective HDMI cable. We're also seeing HDMI featuring on laptop and PCs which are becoming the standard for the corporate and commercial markets, for education, presentation, digital signage and retail display. How does it fit into our AV system?

We're simply using a HDMI cable to connect the output from our HD source to the input of our HD displays, whether that be your TV, commercial screen or projector. All the way up to a multiscreen video.

Keeping the technical side nice and simple, HDMI is a digital interface, single cable solution for combined HD video and audio, replacing analog solutions, which require separate video and audio cables, such as VGA audio jack.

Now, we're all used to seeing the standard 14mm version of HDMI with a Type A plug or 'male' connector on the cable and Type B or 'female' socket on our connecting device. But there are also many micro versions of HDMI out there on the market too.

As smaller and smaller devices, such as our smartphones and tablets, increasingly become personal HD-AV sources. Distance-wise, there were limitations to HDMI transmission and we would recommend when using a Category 1 'standard' HDMI cable that the lengths are limited to probably no more than 10 meters.

There is high grade Category 2 HDMI cable available, using which we can successfully achieve cable lengths of up to 15 meters.

After that, there are a number of options to increase the distance of your HDMI signal, using HDMI switches and repeaters or using the latest HDMI over Cat cable or HDBaseT technology, both of which can extend your signal to an incredible 100 meters of a standard Cat 5e, 6 or 7 Ethernet cable.

These systems require specific transmitter-receiver devices, all of which we look into in great detail in other videos on the HowToAV.tv video channel. So that's HDMI and HDMI cable, certainly one of - if not the - interface of choice for combined HD video and audio connectivity.


What Type Of HDMI Cable Should You Invest In?

For most people, setting up a new TV in the living room is akin to a religious experience. That shiny new panel is the centerpiece of your home entertainment set-up and you want to be certain that it's displaying the highest-quality image possible.

So what kind of HDMI cable do you need and how much should you spend? The short answer is that any certified high-speed HDMI cable can handle up to a 4k Ultra HD signal at 60 frames per second.

We're talking about a digital signal here. So, there's no difference in picture quality between a $10 cable and a $100 cable. The signal either makes it to the TV or it doesn't. Price and signal quality are totally unrelated. You get out of it exactly what you put into it.

Now, for the long answer. There are two types of HDMI cable: standard and high-speed. The standard variety isn't very common anymore. It can only pass a signal up to 1080i, so only buy a cable that is certified high-speed HDMI. Period. When you spend more money on a cable, what you pay for is better quality, to a point.

Repeated plugging and unplugging, the strain of sneaking a cable through tight spaces and plugging it in at right angles - these are all factors that take a toll on a cable and a better-quality product will last longer.

Pure and simple. But there's a point of diminishing returns. Eventually, you come to a point where your dollars stop going to quality and start really having little effect.

If you need a longer cable or a thinner one, look for an active cable. They have active electronics on one side or both sides of the cable to help boost the signal and maintain integrity.

They're going to cost a little more, but they are becoming more common, as more and more people wall-mount their TVs. You can check out HDMI website for more details about what to look for.

And there's even a ‘Finding the Right Cable’ guide. Stick to a reputable retailer, so you can return anything substandard and check for positive reviews. But you shouldn't have to spend much more than say, 10 dollars or so for 3 feet of good-quality high-speed HDMI cable.

DVI VS HDMI: Does It Matter

Both DVI vs HDMI have their pros and cons, and so the features that you will get by investing in them are entirely dependent on what you need from an input. Like we always say – take note of the tips we’ve provided above, do ample research, and you should be all-good to find a product that suits you and the whole family.

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