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Component Video & UDI

If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, you can still watch high definition content via a component video input. Component video is widely regarded as the highest quality consumer analogue video connection. Component video separates the video signal into three parts, luminance (light), blue chrominance (blue colour) and red chrominance (red colour). These three parts are often referred to as Y, Pb and Pr. The three parts of the video signal are transported discretely along the separate cables to ensure the highest possible quality. There is no need to transport a green signal since anything that isn’t blue or red is assumed to be green.

Component video has been prevalent in the US since the days of LaserDisc, but in Europe we’ve had to make do with SCART instead. A component video connection is made up of three phono or RCA jacks, usually coloured red, green and blue. As with all analogue interconnects, the image quality produced is very much dependant on the quality of cable used. If you’re going to watch HD over component, do yourself a favour and don’t skimp on the cable.

Although HDMI has an overriding advantage of keeping the signal digital from start to finish, a high quality source connected to a high quality screen using a good component video cable will probably be indistinguishable from an HDMI connected setup to most people.

If you’ve got an Xbox 360 you’ll already be familiar with component video, since Microsoft’s latest console outputs its high definition signal over this connection.

One final connection worth mentioning is UDI or Universal Display Interface. As if DVI and HDMI weren’t similar enough, UDI has now been thrown into the mix. UDI is being touted as the replacement for the analogue D-SUB port used on graphics cards and computer monitors. Although I can’t help but think that DVI was the replacement for D-SUB.


As you can see form the image, UDI is very similar to HDMI.


On the plus side, UDI offers much greater bandwidth than both DVI and HDMI, while the socket is almost identical in size to HDMI. Unlike HDMI though, UDI does not carry audio, much like DVI in fact.

Despite the fact that UDI seems to offer no great benefit over DVI and HDMI for consumers, manufacturers would benefit – to use HDMI a manufacturer must pay an annual licence fee and royalties on every unit produced.

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