Generally, people look for screen resolution, screen size, color reproduction, and audio quality when purchasing a new TV. However, another critical aspect that you should never ignore is the number of connectivity ports.
Today, you have smart TVs that come equipped to handle a range of functions. Therefore, connectivity ports are crucial components of any TV. Let us understand the different types of connectivity ports available on a TV today. This article also includes the older-generation ports that were available on TVs before.
HDMI – Multipurpose port
HDMI denotes High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is the default connectivity port for delivering high-quality, uncompressed audio/video data between devices using a single cable. While laptops come equipped with one HDMI port, TVs feature multiple HDMI connectivity options. The more the number of HDMI ports, the better it is.
Besides TVs and laptops, HDMI ports are available on set-top boxes, decoders, Blu-ray disc players, soundbars, DVD players, AV receivers, streaming devices, and many more.
The HDMI standard has passed through various evolutionary stages, starting with HDMI 1.1 that supports DVD audio alone. Subsequently, you had HDMI 1.3 that allowed enhanced bandwidth speeds to 10.2 Gbps. Then, you had HDMI 1.4 supporting 4K resolution and HDMI Ethernet Channel. Today, you have HDMI 2.0 ports available on TVs that support up to 18 Gbps bandwidth and offer 4K resolution support. The latest version, HDMI 2.1, supports 8K video with HDR and up to 48 Gbps transfer rate.
Different types of HDMI connector plugs are available, such as Type A (Standard), C (Mini), and D (Micro). The Dual-link Type-B HDMI ports are no longer in use. Generally, TVs feature the standard Type-A connectors.
You should also note that you need an HDMI cable to connect to the HDMI port of your smart TV. Five types of HDMI cables are available on the market.
- Standard HDMI – supports 720p and 1080i
- Standard HDMI with Ethernet
- Standard Automotive HDMI Cable
- High-speed HDMI Cable – supports 1080p, 4K 30 Hz, 3D, and deep color
- High-speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Your flat screen or smart TV can work with a standard HDMI cable. However, if you wish to share your internet connection with other devices, you need a standard HDMI cable with ethernet.
HDMI is the ideal connectivity option as it transfers data digitally without distorting or compressing the information. Besides, it can deliver the best quality picture and sound.
TV ports are generally labeled as HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel), enabling sending and receiving audio data. This port enables you to connect to a sound system and hook up other devices using an A/V receiver.
Related: Types of TV Screens
After the HDMI port, the USB port is the most common on all TVs. It enables you to watch TV from a USB pen drive. Like HDMI, USB ports have also evolved from USB 2.0 connections with transfer speeds of 480 Mbps to USB 3.0 that support speeds up to 5 Gbps.
Traditionally, TVs support USB 2.0 standards, whereas the latest TV models have USB 3.0 ports.
One should know about USB interface connectors that are available in five types.
- USB Type-A – the most commonly found USB connections in peripherals like PCs, mice, keyboards, and power adapters
- USB Type-B – the square-shaped connectors usually found on printers
- Mini USB – you can find the mini USB ports on some digital cameras.
- Micro USB – It is the current standard for mobile devices
- USB Type-C – The latest generation reversible connectors found in smartphones and laptops.
Your TV generally features USB Type-A ports, similar to the one you have on laptops. Usually, TVs come with two or even three USB connectivity ports to connect to your external hard drives, smartphones, and flash drives.
Component Video Port
Today, you have HDMI ports available on TVs for receiving audio and video signals simultaneously. Before the advent of HDMI, TVs came equipped with component video ports (Red, Blue, and Green AV ports) to offer excellent video quality. However, many TVs include these ports as additional input channels.
Users can connect their media player to the TV using these ports. Play Station 2, PS 3, Xbox 360, and Wii systems feature these component video ports. In addition, PS4 comes with an HDMI connection.
As HDMI carries audio and video signals in a single cable, the TV manufacturers gradually phasing out the component video ports. Though the older TVs have them, the latest TVs prefer to offer additional HDMI connectivity.
Related: HDR Formats Explained
The S-Video port is an obsolete port that was available in the earlier generation of TVs. Today, you have all TVs featuring HDMI ports. Though an S-Video port produces better video quality than the component video ports, you invariably end up with a lower VGA resolution (640 x 480p). The S-Video port was a critical component in the Analog Age. Today, HDMI is the standard connectivity port in the digital era.
Composite Video Port
The Composite video port is another connectivity port that has become obsolete today after introducing the HDMI ports. However, old-timers will still recall the circular yellow-colored ports connected to video players and previous-generation gaming consoles. These analog ports with a maximum resolution of 480i have given way to HDMI ports that support audio and video signals.
Optical Digital Audio Port
Optical Digital Audio ports, also known as Toshiba Link ports (TOSLINK), send digital audio to your sound system. This port is better than the RCA stereo port that uses analog.
While HDMI is a better option, many TVs offer the optical port as an additional option because sound systems come equipped with this feature. However, one should note that these optical cables lose their effectiveness at distances more than ten meters. Besides, they are comparatively more delicate than the coaxial cables. One should also remember that bending the optical cables at sharp angles can damage them permanently.
Coaxial Digital Audio Port
Coaxial digital audio ports are the alternatives to optical digital audio ports. They perform similarly as they connect your TV to external sound systems. The optical digital audio ports deliver better audio, but the coaxial ports are sturdier and less prone to damage.
Many TV manufacturers offer this option to the optical digital audio port. However, the HDMI option is the best for transmitting and receiving audio and video signals.
RCA Stereo Port
The RCA Stereo ports comprise red and white ports for transmitting analog audio signals. These ports are useful for audio input and output. The output ports have the label ‘Out’ written beside them. You can find them situated next to the component or composite video ports if they are used for audio inputs.
Compared to the HDMI, Optical, and coaxial audio ports, the RCA stereo ports are inferior. Generally, modern-day TVs do not have the RCA jacks if they include optical audio ports. With alternate solutions like HDMI or Bluetooth available today, TVs do not need to include the RCA audio jacks.
DVI ports are useful for connecting your computers to your TV. The Digital Visual Interface connectivity ports are better than VGA ports but do not match the quality of HDMI connectivity. The DVI port allows for transmitting analog and digital signals. The DVI-A is an analog port that equals the VGA port in performance. The DVI-D supports digital transmission, whereas DVI-I supports both analog and digital devices.
The DVI cables can carry audio signals also, depending on whether the video card in your computer supports the transfer. Unfortunately, with all TVs offering HDMI connections, the DVI ports have become obsolete.
VGA port or Video Graphics Array port is no longer available on TVs and computers. Instead, you have better technology like DVI and HDMI. However, you could find this connectivity port in the earlier generation TVs. One should note that the VGA port does not support audio transmission. Hence, TVs require a separate audio connection.
Related: Laptop Ports Explained
Antenna In Port
In the olden days, you had the OTA antenna system to provide audio and video input to your TVs. Hence, TVs used to feature the Antenna-In port. Subsequently, people switched over to satellite TV providers and cable TV providers for their content. So, the set-top boxes that come with these connections started featuring these antenna-in ports. These set-top boxes are connected to the TVs either through the component video cables or HDMI cables.
With the advent of the smart TV with inbuilt Wi-Fi features, the antenna-in port is not necessary.
While smart TVs come equipped with inbuilt Wi-Fi, the Ethernet connection is more reliable and can provide faster speeds than Wi-Fi. Thus, you find the smart TVs of today coming equipped with the RJ45 Ethernet LAN port to connect to your Wi-Fi modem.
If you choose between using a Wi-Fi connection and the ethernet cable, the cable is better any day because it reduces buffering considerably and improves streaming speed.
The Ex-Link port is found on Samsung TVs that technicians use to update the TV software. Generally, this port is not available today. Therefore, even if your Samsung TV has one, it is not advisable to use it.
We have discussed all the possible connectivity ports that could be found on a TV. The TVs today do not feature all these ports. They offer HDMI, USB, Optical digital audio ports, and component video ports. Besides, you have technology like Bluetooth available on TVs that do not require you to connect using cables. However, Bluetooth has its limitations because it loses effectiveness if you move more than ten feet from the TV.
The HDMI ports are the most in-demand connectivity ports. The best TVs come equipped with multiple HDMI ports, some of them with ARC compatibility. When purchasing a TV, you should ensure that your TV offers a minimum of three HDMI ports for excellent connectivity.
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Srinivasa is Vsbytes’s Editor-In-Chief. He Is A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert And Has Been Interested In Computer Hardware, Software, And Gaming Right Since The Time He Was A Child.