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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
 
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HDMI vs Component

Taken from Toms Hardware...thought this might be of interest especially to some of the new Xbox folks deciding between which console to get.

If you talk to any half-witted video enthusiast or ask an associate at your local big box retailer - bearing in mind that the two groups are pretty much the same - they'll unmistakably tell you that HDMI is better than component, case closed, end of story. This is just based on tired assumptions of the entire audio/visual industry. HDMI is based on a digital technology while component is analog, HDMI is a more recent development and HDMI costs more. Conventional wisdom says that newer formats are better, digital is always the best and a higher price tag equals higher quality.

Living under the guise of these kinds of stereotypes will eventually tear your brain to shreds. They're just not true. Component video cables can deliver really high quality pictures, just like HDMI. They also tend to be a bit more robust, especially if you need a really long cable.

Another issue is that digital is rarely all that it's cracked up to be. On one side, digital technologies have vastly improved mechanisms to weed out imperfections caused by their analog counterparts. Unfortunately, on the flip side, it's also an excuse to employ cuts to make the new technology as cheap as possible. Specifically, when the HDMI standard was developed, a very robust system of checks and balances was tossed out, in favor of a cheap alternative that can lead to degradation of the cable signal over time. The analog component cable has no such built-in flaw, and in most cases should be able to last a lifetime without problems.

While both cable formats present a picture as essentially a mosaic of red, green and blue color components, the way they do this is based on two completely different processes. For component, three individual inputs are needed; the signal is usually referred to as YPbPr. The "Y" component focuses on the brightness of the image as the "green" channel, the "Pb" component is the blue channel, and the "Pr" component presents the red part of the picture. All three signals are then put together to create the final picture.
HDMI, on the other hand, uses a standard called Transmission Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS). What this basically does is incorporate three different channels for each color set, allowing one cable to sync all the channels together in a straight-to-digital format. Component cables typically take a digital signal, convert it to analog for internal conversion processes, and then convert it back to digital for output to the TV.

The resting assumption is that, because of the digital-to-analog-to-digital mechanism involved with component cables, there's always a bigger loss of picture quality. That sentiment is ridden with naivety, though, because HDMI suffers similar issues. Even though it's a digital format, it's hardly a universal conversion from every single output source. HDMI cables also need to convert signals to their own format. The only difference is that it's just messing around with conversions between different digital signals instead of digital and analog.

In other words, the stuff that's going on inside these crazy cables is whacked, no matter what kind of cable you're using. While it's an easy cop out to just assume a more antiquated analog format will have more trouble reproducing a purely HD image, that statement lacks thorough consideration.
HDMI has also been panned because it's much easier for the signal to degrade over time. Long-range HDMI cables are also known to lose quality because of a less-than-perfect set of standards for the format. Analog cables, on the other hand, can last decades and stretch for dozens of feet without any sort of automatic degradation.

Because of its universality with one single input for audio and sound, HDMI has become the much preferred standard for HDTV hook-ups. That doesn't mean it necessarily has a huge leaps-and-bounds advantage over component, though. Component video provides a more reliable picture, carries a more robust set of standards and generally works better for long-range professional-type set-ups.

It should be noted that the other major high definition video standard, DVI, runs with the exact same technology as HDMI, except it does not carry audio. Your HDTV may have DVI inputs instead of HDMI, and everything written here about HDMI video is the same for your video signal.

The real point is that there's not really a winner: the argument to be made is that both formats function just fine. HDMI is nice because it incorporates both audio and video, and that's a very nice extra feature. However, if your cable company's HD converter box only supports component output, that's not a reason to jump to another service provider. Analog technologies date back decades upon decades and are built on a long-standing tradition. And while digital formats are supposed to deliver more fulfilling standards, they're often under-utilized in favor of making cheaper products.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 10:14 AM
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That's quite the story there... I got some post whoring to attend to so I'll just skip it.

I ran component cables from my DVD player to the HD TV and I found the picture when playing DVD's was better than that crappy HD from digital cable, plus no chop/sputter/lag. Especially the new digital animation kids movies!

Took this advice from an employee at one of the big box stores.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 10:14 AM
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Cool article. I use only HDMI with my set up. On my Pioneer you can only get 1080 by using the HDMI the component does not support this res. Obviously I wan to run the higher res. I do not use the HDMI to carry my audio. I use optical to do the sound.
No matter what people say never spend more than $10 on a HDMI cable. These $150 cables are BS. HDMI carries only digital signals. In other words on/off electrical signals. Fancy cables work no better than a regular $10 HDMI cable.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
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Cool article. I use only HDMI with my set up. On my Pioneer you can only get 1080 by using the HDMI the component does not support this res. Obviously I wan to run the higher res. I do not use the HDMI to carry my audio. I use optical to do the sound.
No matter what people say never spend more than $10 on a HDMI cable. These $150 cables are BS. HDMI carries only digital signals. In other words on/off electrical signals. Fancy cables work no better than a regular $10 HDMI cable.

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But, but...but the cable I paid $189.99 for has gold plates at the end. They increase the ohms and lessen the resistance, therefore providing clearer sound. Gold also transfers electrical pulses faster therefore giving me faster sound!

My set is 720p/1080i...I looked at 1080p and couldn't tell the difference so I'm ok with component.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 10:24 AM
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For both my parents and a friend down the street from my parents who both have comcast the HDMI connection was by far better then the component connection. On the other hand I recommended the HDMI to a friend in NYC and he said it was the same as component. So I guess from my experience it depends on the situation.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:01 AM
 
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For both my parents and a friend down the street from my parents who both have comcast the HDMI connection was by far better then the component connection. On the other hand I recommended the HDMI to a friend in NYC and he said it was the same as component. So I guess from my experience it depends on the situation.
I've found that too. Last apartment I had Comcast, the HDMI was a better signal. My new one, with RCN, I've found component is better.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norrin316 View Post
I've found that too. Last apartment I had Comcast, the HDMI was a better signal. My new one, with RCN, I've found component is better.
Did you use the same TV? I'm guessing that it's the cable box that determines it.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:09 AM
 
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Did you use the same TV? I'm guessing that it's the cable box that determines it.
Yeah, same TV. I actually had both the install guys come in with 2 boxes at the same time. It's always been the same box with the vendor, just different outputs. So, for Comcast the only difference between the HDMI box and the component box was that one had HDMI and the other didn't. Same deal with RCN. The boxes between the providers was different though.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:23 AM
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Comcast doesn't always give you a component cable that is good. When I had it all hooked up with component colors were all way off, tried to adjust on the TV and made some better and some worse. I switched to HDMI (smaller cable, takes up less room and one less cable, I like this) and presto all the colors were perfect.

I will say this, the Heiniken Light commercials look really good when the can is a blue color instead of the standard green. But it is really annoying watching Cubs games and watching them play on a blue outfield with green hats.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:29 AM
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As far as I know the HDMI with the HDMI box looks better because the signal is a straight digital signal to the TV. The component is analog isn't it?

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by under200 View Post
As far as I know the HDMI with the HDMI box looks better because the signal is a straight digital signal to the TV. The component is analog isn't it?

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component is analog, yes.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 11:48 AM
 
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As far as I know the HDMI with the HDMI box looks better because the signal is a straight digital signal to the TV. The component is analog isn't it?
To answer just your question, yes. However, digital signal is far from a "straight" connection. Like the OP said, there's all sorts of weird encoding/decoding going on. That's why you can't just take your Comcast box to RCN and have it work. Also, something to be noted, the advantage analog has over digital in cases where there is data loss is that analog can be "repaired" with error correction. Once a digital signal loses some data, it's gone for good.

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Never trust wires that are given to you, thats my advice.
+1. I'm at that point where I wish the boxes were like GSM phones, too. I could buy a quality box and take it with me whereever I go. If only cablecard had actually been successful.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 01:34 PM
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For both my parents and a friend down the street from my parents who both have comcast the HDMI connection was by far better then the component connection.
+1. The HDMI input is far superior to the component cable from my comcast box. And I'm using DVI to HDMI cable since the comcast box has no HDMI output. Anyone know if comcast has any nice HD boxes with HDMI output.

It sounds to me like there are more people that say HDMI looks significantly better then component while no/few people say that component looks significantly better than HDMI.

I think this is a situation were you're individual results will vary.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 01:37 PM
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+1. The HDMI input is far superior to the component cable from my comcast box. And I'm using DVI to HDMI cable since the comcast box has no HDMI output. Anyone know if comcast has any nice HD boxes with HDMI output.

It sounds to me like there are more people that say HDMI looks significantly better then component while no/few people say that component looks significantly better than HDMI.

I think this is a situation were you're individual results will vary.
I have the HDMI output on my Comcast box. You have to request the HDMI when you order. I also have the dvr on the same box.

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 01:47 PM
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I don't have the DVR as I have Tivo on my other TV and really dig it. Maybe they only give you that box when you order the DVR?
I was on the comcast website and didn't see any link to their equipment but I swear I have seen it in the past. Anyone have a link?

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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 01:56 PM
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I can't stand HDMI, until they can straighten out the standards and keep HDMI from freaking out now an again and pixelating I will pass. Seems the DVI is better, I equate it to not have to convert the audio to HDMI thus using less CPU power, but that is completely unqualified. Except on my DVD player, when I use the full HDMI I get lock ups and pixelation when I run the DVI with Optical Audio I don't have any problems.

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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 02:42 PM
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I have HDMI for the 360 and Component from Comcast going to my set. In HD from Comcast I get occasional "sputter". Comcast also has HDMI output. For kicks, I may plug the cable box into the set via HDMI to see if I get the same sputter. The HDMI from the Xbox is very clean.

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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 03:29 PM
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I have HDMI for the 360 and Component from Comcast going to my set. In HD from Comcast I get occasional "sputter". Comcast also has HDMI output. For kicks, I may plug the cable box into the set via HDMI to see if I get the same sputter. The HDMI from the Xbox is very clean.
I get the "sputter" at times too. Where it pixelates for a second and then goes back to normal. I think that's comcast's signal not the HDMI/Component cable you have because it happens on my non-HD TV too.

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 03:50 PM
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I dumped HDMI and went back to components. Quality is the same to my eyes but I no longer have to deal with compatibility issues.

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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-14-2007, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
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I get the "sputter" at times too. Where it pixelates for a second and then goes back to normal. I think that's comcast's signal not the HDMI/Component cable you have because it happens on my non-HD TV too.
That is the signal, nothing to do with the cable. I use to get it with Direct T.V. and Comcast with component and still get it with Comcast & HDMI.

The item that was left out of the story is more & more displays and HD players will not go full resolution without HDMI. I believe Bluray will not carry 1080p over component and I thought HDDVD would not either.

I don't see much difference between the two but I doubt the signal on HDMI will degrade over time. You either get the signal or you don't. Then you buy a new $10 cable.

When and if streaming HD movies are sold via the cable box/Direct T.V., HDMI will be required for copywrite.

I do like the audio and video in one cable.




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