Welcome to TV Connections, here we look at the various ways of connecting a televisions, displays, media devices and home cinema systems etc. For the past 30 years the scart lead has been the primary connection cable for connecting a device to a TV but in the last 3 years everything has changed as we have moved into the digital age.

The scart lead is still in widespread use today but is only capable of carrying an analogue TV signal with a standard definition resolution, most commonly in the UK referred to as 576i (576 lines of interlaced picture).

 A new connection called an HDMI cable was created to carry a high definition TV (HDTV) signal into the new LCD and Plasma TV ranges. HDMI Cables have much smaller plugs than scart and if you’re not familiar with them you could mistake it for a USB connector. The HDMI Cable carries the signal digitally as a stream of 1s and 0s, as such it is much less prone to interference and all but a faulty cable will transfer the sound and picture in perfect quality.

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Network cables are becoming one of the most used cables in both data and audio visual installations and there are a few different types to choose from. Copper network cables mainly use the common RJ45 connector and consist of 4 twisted pairs, 8 wires total.

Network Cable Quality
In terms of quality there are two main categories, economy and full copper. Economy network cables tend to be made from much cheaper materials such as copper coated aluminium CCA or copper coated steel CCS, whilst these are ok for data we wouldn’t recommend these for audio visual or applications that require power over Ethernet POE.

Wire Gauge
Cheaper network cables tend to use smaller wire gauges, high end cables use 24AWG conductors, mid range 26AWG and low end use 28AWG or smaller, the larger the wire gauge the less loss and hence better performance.

CAT5e vs CAT6 Cables
CAT5 cables are rarely seen today and have been replaced by CAT5e or CAT6. CAT5e cables are specified to transfer 1gbps or gigabit Ethernet over a distance of at least 100 metres using all 4 pairs, CAT6 cables are specified to transfer the same gigabit rate over 100 metres but only using 2 of the 4 pairs. As there is limited equipment that can make use of gigabit over 2 pairs CAT5e is often a good choice. Some audio visual applications such as HDMI over single CAT5 / CAT6 can make use of the CAT6 specification though.

Home networking normally only requires UTP unshielded cabling, in noisy environments FTP or SSTP shielded cables can be used to reduce EMI, shielded cables must be earthed correctly, ideally to a communications grade earth or their performance can be worse than a UTP cable.

UK mains wall socket with built in USB charger provides a neat solution for charging all sorts of devices such as phones and tablets, available in white and chrome with prices as low as £11.50.

UK Mains Socket with USB Charger

A new HDMI revision sparks the usual farce with unscrupulous retailers claiming to be selling HDMI 2.0 Cables even they don’t exist and never will!

HDMI 2.0 introduces new features into equipment but cables remain exactly the same, the latest specification increased bandwidths up to 18Gbps using existing high speed and high speed with Ethernet cables, a good article on click > HDMI 2.0 Cables for full details.

LG has switched their power connector to a cloverleaf C5 on recent TVs but are only supplying a 1m cable in the box, luckily a longer length cloverleaf power cable can be bought up to 10m long.

When choosing an HDMI cable for 3D you only need a high speed hdmi cable or a high speed with ethernet HDMI cable. There is no change in the wiring of the cable for 3D over HDMI so most older cables that were marked as HDMI 1.3 cables will work fine.

CAT6A patch cables are now available to support 10 gigabit ethernet, available in multiple colours and lengths.

HDMI cables now come with a rotating and swivelling connector to get the perfect cable position in those awkward spaces and with a 2m rotating HDMI cable only costing £6.75 its a no brainer. The cables are also rated high speed with ethernet so will support all HDMI 1.4 functions.

Connecting HDMI to a VGA monitor is now quite simple with the use of an HDMI to VGA converter, the device takes an HDMI input and provides a VGA and stereo audio output, a great solutuion for watching Sky HD on your VGA monitor.

Despite being in wide spread use the term HDMI 1.4 Cable is now defunct, instead cables are now referred to as standard speed, high speed or high speed with ethernet. If you want to make sure you have all the HDMI 1.4 functionality then you should now buy a high speed hdmi cable with ethernet.

New Lindy HDMI Splitter (part codes 38026 and 38027) now support 3D over HDMI as well as 1080p.

Higher speed: HDMI 1.3 increases its single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps) to support the demands of future HD display devices, such as higher resolutions, Deep Colour and high frame rates. In addition, built into the HDMI 1.3 specification is the technical foundations that will let future versions of HDMI reach significantly higher speeds

Deep Colour: HDMI 1.3 supports 10-bit, 12-bit and 16-bit (RGB or YCbCr) colour depths, up from the 8-bit depths in previous versions of the HDMI specification, for stunning rendering of over one billion colours in unprecedented detail

Broader colour space: HDMI 1.3 adds support for “x.v.Color™”, which removes current colour space limitations and enables the display of any colour viewable by the human eye

New mini connector: With small portable devices such as HD camcorders and still cameras demanding seamless connectivity to HDTVs, HDMI 1.3 offers a new, smaller form factor connector option

Lip Sync: Because consumer electronics devices are using increasingly complex digital signal processing to enhance the clarity and detail of the content, synchronization of video and audio in user devices has become a greater challenge and could potentially require complex end-user adjustments. HDMI 1.3 incorporates automatic audio synching capabilities which allow devices to perform this synchronization automatically with total accuracy

New HD lossless audio formats: In addition to HDMI‘s current ability to support high-bandwidth uncompressed digital audio and all currently-available compressed formats (such as Dolby® Digital and DTS®), HDMI 1.3 adds additional support for new lossless compressed digital audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™

The splitter coupled with a high speed hdmi cable gives perfect 3D to more than 1 screen.