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Posted by Shawn on August 3, 2006
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This is an S-Video cable. Also known as the special step-child of the video cable connection family.

S-Video S-Video

What is an S-Video cable you ask? Well, first, a little history on video cable connections. First, we had the R/F switch. This was the singular coaxial line that connected many old vcrs and video game systems. It transmitted both audio and video over the same line and only supported mono speaker setup. Next came the highly popular and still used A/V cables. This was a set of three cables- two for audio and one for video. This supported a clearer picture and stereo sound. Then, we run into the S-Video cable. The S-Video cable was meant to replace the video portion of the older A/V cables. Two cables remained for sound, but the video quality was increased further when switched out for the S-Video cable. After S-Video came even better cables such as component and HDMI. But before I go on you're probably wondering, 'But what was so bad about S-Video if it had better quality?' It wasn't a matter of quality but rather design. Let's take a look at the connection ends for the various video cable connections available. Anything seem out of place?

Cable Comparison Cable Comparison

The S-Video cable is the only one that doesn't follow a uniform one pin/plug design. All of the other video cables can be inserted in any degree of rotation with no hassle. S-Video, however, must be lined up perfectly with the four pins you see sticking out.

I don't care what the pins mean I don't care what the pins mean

Was this pin design truly necessary? When planning the connection end for S-Video, did the designers actually think this would bring any kind of convenience? The worst part is that a majority of S-Video connections you'll be making are stuck behind the tv, dark and out of sight. This was hard enough trying to find the connector with just composite video cables. Now we have to find the connector and make sure it's turned the right way! I don't know about you but this has led to endless frustration on my part, having to finally resort to pulling the tv out and finding a flashlight to help carefully guide the connector in to place. The least they could have done was make the plug square, making it so there were only a few possible ways to mess it up. But that's too convenient.

You'd better be careful with the pins too, because if you press just a little too hard when trying to connect you're likely to bend one, rendering your entire cable useless. The cable ends feature a little arrow in a 'this side goes up' fashion. This would work in theory but again, when trying to connect cables in the back of dark tv or stereo receiver, this arrow is pretty much uselss. And to think, all this hassle over a singular video signal! Thankfully component cables came soon after and remedied the problem, and came with better picture quality.

Sorry S-Video, you've overstayed your welcome(?)

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Posted to: Rants

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