Since media platforms are ever-changing and evolving with new technology appearing on the regular, it can be challenging to keep up with all of the various connectors and cables associated with different formats and hardware. For the average user, it's easy to get tangled up and overwhelmed about what to use and when. That's why NCTV has created our own video cable quick guide for the most common types of wires and connectors people encounter (in alphabetical order!):
The F Connector is a very common type of coaxial cable mostly used for transmitting signals through broadcast television, cable television, satellite television, and cable modems. F Connector cables can carry video and audio.
The HDBaseT connector, which most people commonly refer to as an Ethernet cable, is a technology industry standard in transmitting high-def video, audio, power, home networking, internet, and USB signals.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables are essentially the modern replacement for analog RCA Connectors (see below!). They are used to transmit digital uncompressed video and compressed or uncompressed audio from an HDMI-compliant media source to a display source such as a high-definition television, computer monitor, video projector, or digital audio device.
Lightning is a small connector created by Apple and used to supply power to devices and to transfer data between Apple devices (such as the iPod, iPad, and iPhone) to computers and other devices including display monitors, cameras, and USB chargers, among others.
The Mini DisplayPort is another product created by Apple which is used to connect a video source to a display device such as a computer monitor, though it can also be used to carry audio, USB, and other forms of data. One thing that makes this connector unique is that it can handle displays with resolutions up to 2560×1600 and with an adapter, it can drive display devices with VGA, DVI, or HDMI interfaces.
The RCA (whose name comes from the original designer - Radio Corporation of America) is one of the oldest common cables. It is a tricolored red, yellow, and white 3-plug wire used for transmitting composite video and sterio audio. The yellow wire is used for video, and the red and white wires are used for sterio audio. Before the other more modern cabled on this list, it was the reigning king for home video enjoyment for many years used to connect VCRs and DVD players. While it is still around today, its widespread use is quickly dwindling.
The USB, an acronym for Universal Serial Bus, is probably the most common cable on this list. It is an industry standard connector used to power, connect, and allow communication (and video and audio transmission) among many types of computer and electronic devices including keyboards, cameras, printers, media players, hard-drives, and various forms of adapters to other types of connectors.
While not often used in the common household, the XLR remain the industry standard for professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment. While mainly used for professional audio recording and live music amplification, it can also be utilized for lighting control and low-volt power supply. It is also the most common connector used for microphones and amps.