Component Video Cable and Connection Explained

A component video cable provides a high quality picture for your audio-visual devices, but it may not always be the best choice to use.

We take a look at this type of connection and discuss the pros and cons.

What does the connector on the device look like?

Component Connector

The component video connection on the back of your device will look something like this.

It has three RCA connectors which are coloured red, green and blue.

When connecting two devices together with a component video cable, the important thing is to make sure you connect red to red, green to green and blue to blue.

component video cable

What does the cable look like?

The component video cables that are used to connect two devices look like this.

At each end there will be red, green and blue RCA plugs. The colour coding is just there to make it easier for you to connect your devices correctly.

What does it do?

A component video cable transmits a high quality analog video signal between devices. It can transmit standard and high-definition image resolutions - although high-definition images over this type of connection may be limited due to copyright restrictions. It is a very common interface on all types of consumer audio-visual equipment.

It does not send any audio signals. You will need a separate audio connection if you are using this to send the image.

When should I use it?

After an HDMI port and a DVI connector, this is the next best video connection to use. Therefore, if you are unable to use HDMI or DVI on your device, then this will probably be your next option to try.

Having said that, you will find those who argue that they prefer the look of an image sent over an analog component video cable rather than digital HDMI. In truth there probably isn't much to choose either way, and if there is a difference, it is probably down to the analog and digital circuitry within the playback device itself - and so will vary depending on your equipment.

If in doubt, try both and see which you prefer.

What else can you tell me?

Component video is an analog video signal that is split into two or more separate signals. This splitting of the signal creates a better image than a composite video signal.

Using this definition for component video actually means there is more than one type of component video, which includes the signal sent by s-video connectors (which is split into two separate signals) and RGB (which has three).

However, in consumer audio-visual products, component video usually refers to a YPbPr signal. This type of signal splits an RGB signal into three parts:

  • Y - which is brightness (luma)
  • Pb - which is the difference between blue and luma
  • Pr - which is the difference between red and luma

When these three signals are sent across component video cables it is possible to create all the necessary colours for a full image.


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