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We are rapidly making the transition towards wireless technology. This is mostly seen during video streaming and data transfer. Such operations no longer require wiring. But, for the most part, we need to rely on wiring, and as such, the port still prevails.

Moreover, it is more needed than before. In case of a home or office, there are wires leading to different ports including USB, HDMI, thunderbolt, DVI and peripheral devices. However, the physical connections are still the fastest and most reliable method of data transfer. Hence, it’s important to be aware of ports and their uses.

Once upon a time, there were only two ways to transmit a signal in a television:

  • Use an RF connector for cable/ antenna
  • A/V for stereo audio and composite video

The VCR age was replaced by HDTVs and number of ports increased. Listed below are various ports found in a TV these days:


Every television should have just one A/V port in order to accommodate video players and game consoles. Apart from that, digital cameras having a TV port are usually connected to yellow composite port of a TV. Many mainstream camcorders use the same port, A/V input. The downside is that A/V input is not HD supported and neither is S-Video input for that matter.

Stereo/Composite Video

The S-Video port is capable of producing better quality video in comparison to composite cable. The improvement was actually thought of an ‘improvement’ in yesteryears. The downside remains that when HD cameras are connected to S-Video port in an HDTV, the final result would be a decremented quality video. The reason is that VGA bandwidth can’t exceed 640x480 resolution. The TV manufacturers still include this port, but it is likely to be used less due to inclusion of digital connection.


The primary function of the RF connector is to use the internal tuner of a TV. For receiving over-the-air free TV, an RF port is used for connecting the cable with an antenna. Certain cable channels might open up this way as well. On the other hand, most viewers have a cable subscription/ satellite TV connection. The tuner is included as a separate component.

The red/ blue/ green video ports are usually used for connecting to HD DVR/ Blu-ray CD/DVD player. They can support HD format quite well, albeit, audio arrives from another connection.

Component Video

The problem with component video was that it supported just the video component whilst the sound one needed another input. It’s old technology.

Component video is an older version of the analog signals which is fast being replaced by HDMI connections. Now TVs are armed with multiple HDMI ports since they support both picture and sound, multiple hosts can use HDMI ports for viewing the same content. For instance, setting a home theatre system requires multiple HDMI ports to work with the TV. Furthermore, HDMI ports are necessary for extra inputs if existing inputs are filled up.


Another latest entrant into the TV ports is the HDMI port. The HDMI port is mostly used to connect a smartphone/ laptop with a TV. Hence, content can be watched over a large screen. Before that, a VGA cable was used to connect the TV with an external device. HDMI replaces the VGA port since it supports only picture feed while the sound port was a separate one altogether. The HDMI port is capable of supporting HD picture and sound varying from 720p to 1080p. Now, all the latest TVs are equipped with an HDMI port.


A common term heard these days is the connected TV. It is able to stream media files from websites off the internet or from home network. Such a TV mostly uses an Ethernet jack

You've probably been hearing a lot about the "Connected TV." This refers to the type of TV that can stream content from a computer on your home network or sites on the Internet. This type of TV almost always has an Ethernet (RJ-45) jack for attaching the same type of cable you use for linking computers to your router or cable modem. Some advanced TVs may embed Wi-Fi reception, but even these will include an Ethernet jack in when a case a Wi-Fi signal isn't available.


Now, the latest HDTVs are included with few more ports which are analogous to computer ports. But, installation software is needed for that matter, and unlike computer’s easy software installation, TV software installation could range from easy to difficult. Once done, all the media can be browsed through via remote. When all else fails, the port can be used to charge the music/camera player.


Apart from S-Video, there are other ports that are becoming extinct, including FireWire and Cable Card (used for watching different channels using an RF input).

USB is an abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus. It has taken over the ports category by storm. It is well over ten years since its inception now. SATA and FireWire are now defunct technologies. Thunderbolt remains in competition albeit it will take years for its widespread adoption.

USB is available in two forms as of yet:

  • USB 2
  • USB 3

The ports are similar in looks but differ in speed. They are also compatible with each other. Confusion has however ensued over differentiating between the two ports, some citing USB 3 to be blue. Blue is now synonymous with USB 3. It is now a worldwide standard.

As mentioned above, the difference between the two is that of speed. Its bandwidth is ten times greater than USB 2. The file transfers will be much faster as compared to USB 2. Albeit, transfer from USB 2 to USB 3 might be slower, but transfer from USB 3 to USB 3 is lightning fast.


It is linked with the common SATA standard used in modern hard drives but used for external peripherals. It exploits SATA’s amazing data transfer speeds. There are certain flaws however:


  • One issue is that of length of the cable. SATA was intended for computers hence they have short lengths. The maximum length of SATA cable is 6 ft and 6 inches. Longer cables can also be made but their quality is not the same
  • There is dearth of power support in this standard. Firewire and USB can both power devices, hence they don’t require source power. No such system exists in eSATA.


FireWire was incorporated by Apple Corporation for resolving its 1990’s slow speed connections with peripherals. It did deliver on the speed front though. FireWire is constantly improved and each time, it’s faster than a USB. But, USB 3 has now gained market recognition of both office based and home based users.


DVI was a general purpose connection for accessing video and audio. DVI hails from the 1999 when it first appeared on the tech market gaining considerable audience till 2003. With newer methods, DVI is also now an obsolete technology.


Finally, Thunderbolt (codenamed Light Peak) is the latest connection invented by Intel corporation. Since the name is self explanatory, the Thunderbolt was intended as a super fast fiber optic connection working at 10Gbit/second (twice faster than USB 3.0). The engineers at Intel worked this method out on a copper wire. Thus, Thunderbolt turned out to be less expensive while delivering power at faster speeds, fertile for worldwide adoption. Thunderbolt is capable of transmitting 10 watts, twice the speed of USB 3. With just single Thunderbolt port, many devices can be connected at once in a daisy chain, albeit it has certain limitation.  

One day, Thunderbolt will replace USB 3. It is expensive to implement and only a fraction if companies have adopted it for now. Apple has included Thunderbolt in its PC lineup. Only high-end products are adopting this Thunderbolt feature. Once in use, multiple monitors and hard drives can be connected at once.

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