So what is "Component Video" anyway?

Evan Powell, February 26, 2001
Contents
Progressive vs Interlaced

Progressive vs. Interlaced Component Video

We've got one more important thing to cover on this topic. Component video comes in two flavors-progressive and interlaced. If you don't know the difference, read The Difference between HDTV, EDTV, and SDTV, then come back to this page.

There are three basic kinds of DVD players. First, there are those that have composite and S-video outputs only. Second, there are those that have composite, S-video, and component video interlaced (480i) outputs. Finally, there are those that have composite, S-video, and two forms of component video-component interlaced (480i) and component progressive (480p) outputs.

People often make a big mistake these days by going out to buy a DVD player knowing that "component video" is an important thing, but not being aware that there are lots of DVD players that output "component-interlaced only" and not component-progressive. Both products will say they are "component video" compatible, but if you don't know the difference, you can end up buying something you don't want. If your current video display system takes component-progressive 480p (or you intend to get one that does), you will need to make sure your DVD player offers this as an output as well.

It is important to know this when buying a projector or TV also. There are projectors on the market that will take component-interlaced 480i, but not component-progressive 480p. Some with take both, and some will take neither. The best picture quality will often come from matching a DVD player with a projector that both have component progressive 480p.

If a projector specification sheet says that it takes component video, DO NOT assume that it takes both 480i and 480p unless it specifically states that it is 480p or component-progressive compatible. Sometimes a specification sheet will state component video compatibility, but it means 480i only.

(NOTE: At this writing, if the line item "Component video" on our Projector Database specification sheets says "yes" it means that the projector will take either 480i or 480p but not necessarily both. We are presently in the process of upgrading our Database to include specific indications as to compatibility with component 480i and 480p individually in order to eliminate this confusion. But until that is done, be aware of the issue if you are currently buying a projector or large screen TV for your home theater.)

Conclusion

The way to get the best DVD picture is to use component video connections (if you have them) between your DVD player and your TV or projector. Component-progressive is preferred when you have both progressive and interlaced options.

For the vast majority of DVD users who don't have component capability in either their players or their display systems, the next best thing is S-video. If you are one of the large majority of DVD enthusiasts who are running composite video out of your DVD player and inadvertently degrading the picture as a result, give yourself a quality upgrade--get an S-video cable as soon as possible.

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