Old Tech to Beware of In Displays, Projectors, and HDTVs
When it comes to old tech, bargains on displays, projectors, and HDTVs often are chock-full of them. Watch out for the following:
- LCD displays and projectors that lack HDMI ports. HDMI supports digital video and audio up to 1080p (in other words, full HDTV/Blu-ray resolution). In most cases (check the display specifications to make sure), displays with HDMI ports also support HDCP, the copy-protection standard for Blu-ray and premium encrypted cable/satellite TV content.
- LCD displays and projectors that support only VGA connections. VGA is 24 years old this year (it was introduced along with the long-obsolete IBM MicroChannel Architecture bus in 1987). If you have a mixture of older PCs that lack DVI or HDMI connections and newer PCs that have DVI or preferably, HDMI, you want VGA as an option, but not as your only port choice. Pay a few bucks more (if you need to) and get a display that supports both analog (VGA) and digital video (preferably with both types of cables included).
- HDTVs with less than three HDMI connections. HDMI isn’t just for digital video: it also carries digital audio signals. Thus, with late-model home theater systems, you can use HDMI cables to connect your HDTV to your Blu-ray or upconverting DVD player and to your home theater amplifier. That takes care of two HDMI ports on your HDTV, so why look for three? With a third HDMI port, you can also connect any PC with an HDMI video port (or a DVI port) to your system as well and use your HDTV for pictures, video, and audio from your PC.
- HDTVs with 60Hz refresh rates. HDTVs with 60Hz refresh rates can’t display motion graphics without smearing the picture. It’s really obvious if you’re watching sporting events. At a minimum, look for 120Hz refresh rates, and if you’re thinking about 3D, go for 240Hz. You might pay more, but again you’ll future-proof yourself against premature replacement.
Yes, you can use a computer or display with DVI with a display or computer that has HDMI by using a combo cable, but don’t do it unless you can’t get an end-to-end HDMI connection. With some devices, you might lose HDCP support and wind up with less-than-stellar 480p DVD resolution. Figure 5 compares DVI and HDMI connectors.
Figure 5 Although the HDMI connector (right) is much smaller than the DVI connector (left), HDMI carries both digital video and digital audio signals.