Understanding the DVI Connector and Video Cable

A DVI connector can provide a high quality picture for your home theatre components.

However, it may be that there are better ways to connect your devices. Find out more about this connection type and when you should use it.

What does the connector on the device look like?

DVI Connector
The connection on your device will look something like this. It is a common port found on modern computer graphics cards and some AV devices such as projectors.
DVI Cable

What does the cable look like?

The cable that is used to connect two devices looks like this.

The 'D' shape means the video cable can only be inserted one way round.

What does it do?

A DVI port is used for sending digital video signals between devices. It supports standard and high-definition image resolutions.

However, on some devices a digital high-definition resolution may not be possible as this format only has optional support for HDCP. HDCP is required on devices such as Blu-ray players in order to send Full HD 1080p images. HDMI connections must support HDCP.

It does not send an audio signal, and so you will need a separate audio connection to hear any sound.

When should I use it?

Most modern AV equipment will usually have an HDMI connector. This can be used to send high quality digital video and audio signals.

However, if you have a device with DVI connections rather than HDMI, then this should be used for sending the video signal if possible.

This type of connection would normally be used ahead of a component video cable, an s-video cable and a composite video signal - as long as your equipment supports this type of hookup.

What else can you tell me?

The acronym stands for Digital Visual Interface.

This connection is mainly used in computers for sending images to screens. However, you may come across them in some AV equipment, especially projectors.

There are actually three types of cables and connections, and each type has a slightly different pin configuration:

  • DVI-D - for digital signals
  • DVI-A - for analog signals
  • DVI-I - can send digital and analog signals

These different types were designed to allow a flexible solution for connecting to either digital or analog screens. However, in reality it can just be plain confusing! In general, most AV equipment will have the digital version.

It is possible to tell the type of port you have/need by checking the pins used on your devices connectors. However it is probably safer to refer to the manual before you buy a cable to make sure which version you are using. You don't want to buy a digital cable if your outputs only support the analog version!

There is also another less common version - dual link (or DVI-DL). This has a second internal connection for delivering data and can be used for high-resolution displays. This type of connection isn't widely used, but you would need a dual link cable if your device uses this type of interface.

The digital version is also compatible with an HDMI connection, and so you can get DVI to HDMI cables if your AV equipment requires this type of hookup. Remember, this connection doesn't transfer audio signals and so these cables will send the picture but not the sound.

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