Composite cables and other A/V interface cables are necessary for all television and home entertainment systems that have more than one component. Accessories like video game consoles and DVD or Blu Ray players rely on these cables to deliver their signal to the screen. Composite style cables are one of the first technologies that made this need a possibility. Composites carry an analog signal in standard resolution (480i or 576i) across a single channel on either one or three cables depending on the setup being used.
Choosing Composite or Similar Cables
One major consideration in which type of cable to select is the input provided by the manufacturer. All devices have what are called ‘ports’ on them where cables can be plugged in. Each device will have one or more ports designed to carry the necessary information between other devices in the set up. If a device does not have a port for the type of cable being used, occasionally an adapter can be purchased which will convert the signal into one that can is usable by the two devices. If a converter is not available then a different type of interface has to be used. Understanding the needs of the devices being used and the limitations of the hardware based on preferred input methods is the first step to choosing the right cable for a system.
Common Video Cables
Common types of interface cables include: composite, component, HDMI, and S-Video. Each cable type has a preferred scenario for use and also lists conditions under which a different input might be a better choice. In order to determine whether composite cables are the best choice, the user should compare them with other technologies on the market and evaluate the pros and cons of each option.
Composite cables can be a single wire or a group of three wires with colour coded plug-ins. The colours represent the signal carried by each of the wires. Since composite is a video-only, analog channel, it is represented by the yellow plug-in. The red cable carries the audio channel for the right speaker. The white plug-in carries the audio channel for the left hand speaker. Composite cables may be referred to as RCA or A/V cables since true composite cables are only the video portion of the setup. Each wire in this system operates independently and will function even if the other two are not plugged in.
Component cables can be easily confused with composite cables. They have similar designs as both use the three-plug system with the colour-coded plug-ins. Component cables are the high definition cousin of composites and are easily identified by their red, green and blue pattern. Component cables are capable of carrying a 1080p signal, compatible with most high definition television and and audio systems. Most systems designed for these cables will also provide support for composites.
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. This type of cable became the standard for high definition input during the first wave of HD televisions for home use. HDMI is popular among PC manufacturers as well as TV manufacturers. The simple plug-in interface closely resembles a large USB cable and is very easily incorporated into slim designs. These cables are often the preferred choice for connecting HD video players and PCs to HD televisions for maximum resolution and high quality audio output.
Shopping for Composite Cables on eBay
Once the correct type of cable has be chosen it is easy to browse available products and make a purchase on eBay. To find composite cables, navigate to the TV, Video and Home Audio section. This can be found under the Consumer Electronics category. Alternatively, searching with the term composite cables or RCA cables. brings up list of matching products. Searching by brand name can narrow down the list of returned items further. These can be sorted by price, shipping costs, length of time before expiration, and type of seller. It is advisable to review the listing thoroughly to fully understand the product being purchased. It is also good practice to review the seller’s feedback score and read any reviews that may be available to ensure buying from a trusted source.
Composite cables have long been a standard in video input and transmission. They carry a standard definition signal and are generally easy to find. Due to their popularity they are also usually compatible with most modern devices. Almost every major brand name in electronics that manufactures cables will provide some sort of composite cable option for use in compatible electronics.