As technology advances and evolves, several connectivity options make it into (and then out of) the picture. Every new connector released is better suited to modern devices than the former.
The S-video and component connectors are two of the most popular connectors. They are old connectivity options for transmitting video signals between two devices.
S-video transmits video to a display device by separating the data into two signals: one for color and the other for brightness. It is known for good picture quality, but its color accuracy is outdone by component video.
This article contains all the information you need to understand both connector formats.
Wondering which one is better?
Check out the comparison section to find out.
- The S-Video (Separate Video) Connector
- The Component Connector
- Comparison Between S-Video and Component Video
- Comparison Table
The S-Video (Separate Video) Connector
S-video is older than the component connector by several years. In 1987, it was released into the market and quickly replaced the composite connector.
S-video transmits analog SD-resolution videos at 480i or 576i. It is still found on older computers, TVs, DVD players, video camcorders, and VCR players.
This connector works by separating the video signal into two signals known as the Y and C signals.
The Y signal transmits the luminance (brightness) of the video and synchronization pulses. On the other hand, the C signal (chroma) transmits data required for the picture’s coloring.
The female connector (port) is circular with several pinholes. The pinholes are usually 4, but they may also be 7 or 9. The male connector (plug) is a standard 4-pin cable that fits into any S-video port. It also has 7-pin and 9-pin variants.
There are four dedicated S-video signal channels. One for brightness, another for color, and two ground lines. The ground lines serve as ‘earthing wires’ — to allow the flow of bad current.
S-video connectors with more than four pins support the transmission of other signals or information that aren’t originally S-video.
The pins on the S-video cable fit in one direction only; plug it into the port gently. If you’re having trouble plugging your cable into a port, check the cable for bent pins and attempt to straighten them out. If there is any broken pin, replace the cable.
When To Use S-Video
The S-video connector is old technology, and several newer connectors perform better. As a result, you are less likely to find the S-video port in modern digital devices.
You can use the S-video connector if you have an older device with an S-video port. It can be handy for connecting an old game console or video camcorder to your TV or monitor.
S-video delivers better colors and clarity than composite video, so if your options are limited to two of them, use S-video.
If you’re using S-video to connect to a modern TV, purchase an adapter that converts from S-video to HDMI (or any other connector on your TV).
NOTE: Please remember that the S-video connector transmits only video signals with no audio. You must connect an audio cable separately to get audio on your movies.
The Component Connector
The component connector is an upgrade from S-video. Unlike S-video, its video signals are separated into three components: the YPbPr.
The YPbPr gives more color separation than the S-video, resulting in better image quality. The component connector transmits both SD and HD resolution images up to 1080i.
The color separation of the component video goes as follows:
- Like with S-video, Y carries the signals for luminance (luma) and synchronization.
- Pb transmits the difference between blue and luminance (B – Y).
- Pr transmits the difference between red and luminance (R – Y).
Instead of S-video’s single-plug model, component video connectors come in threes.
The male connector comprises three wires strung together with three plugs at each end. The plugs are color-coded red, blue, and green.
Each plug has a single thick pin that fits into a matching port on the female connector. Each plug carries a video signal component, and all three work together to transmit high-quality pictures.
Like S-video, the component connector doesn’t transmit audio signals. You will need a separate audio connector like the 3.5mm audio jack to send audio to your TV or speakers.
When To Use Component Video
Although the component connector is an upgrade from S-video, there are better options for transmitting HD resolution images like the DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI connectors.
You can use the component connector when choosing between it and other analog connectors like the S-video and composite video.
It is one of the best analog connectors and can transmit images in HD resolution.
Comparison Between S-Video and Component Video
1. How do they look?
The S-video connector is in the form of a single port with a series of tiny pinholes. Its cable has a matching plug with small pins that fit into the pinholes in the port.
The component connector is a set of three ports with single pinholes. Its cable is also a set of conjoined wires with three separate plugs.
The component connector ports are colored red, blue, and green. The plugs on the cables also have matching colors. On the other hand, S-video ports are usually yellow or black.
2. How do they work?
S-video works by separating a video signal into two: the brightness signal and the color signal. It transmits them on two separate channels.
The component video takes things a step further by separating video signals into three components: brightness, blue color information, and red color information. It transmits them via three channels, giving it more bandwidth than S-video.
Component video can transmit HD resolutions up to 1080i. However, while it can transmit HD screen sizes, its picture quality is not as good as HD transmitted over digital connectors.
True HD (1080p) requires higher bandwidth capacity and RGB color information. But 1080i uses a display technique called “Interlacing,” which optimizes bandwidth and limits picture quality.
In 1982, the CCIR issued REC 601, a standard for encoding interlaced analog video signals in digital form. Under that standard, there is ‘digital’ component video, which uses YCbCr color space common in digital photography systems.
Digital component video is also split into component signals before transmission. It is used in digital camcorders and supports resolutions up to 1080p.
Digital component video is carried over single cables like HDMI or SDI. On the other hand, analog component video is more common in television systems and is only carried over dedicated component video cables .
3. Which has a better image quality?
Both S-video and component connectors are analog interfaces. However, component connectors can send videos in HD quality, while the S-video connector is limited to transmitting SD-resolution images.
S-video offers moderate color quality, but the color quality over component video is much higher. Component connectors split video signals into three, which aids color accuracy during display.
Users have also noticed that the picture quality and video game graphics are clearer and crispier over the component connector.
Separates video signals into two
Transmits SD resolutions up to 576i
Cannot transmit audio signals
Uses single-plug cable and port
Allows hot plugging
Connectors are colored yellow or black
Separates video signals into three
Transmits HD resolutions up to 1080i
Cannot transmit audio signals
Uses a 3-plug cable and port design
The connectors are color-coded red, blue, and green.
1. Which is better: S-video or component cable?
In terms of convenience, S-video cables are less bulky and easier to connect than component cables. However, component video has a significantly higher image quality and color production.
If you’re looking for a cable that transmits higher image quality, we advise you to go for the component cable.
2. Is S-video as good as HDMI?
No, S-video is not as good as HDMI.
HDMI is the current standard for video transmission in modern devices. It is a digital interface with a large bandwidth capacity that allows the transfer of high-quality images in full HD, 4K, and 8K resolutions.
Unlike S-video, the HDMI connector can transmit audio signals too. It has additional functions like 3D streaming, HDR support, and HDMI ARC.
Comparatively, S-video is limited to streaming SD-resolution videos and cannot transmit audio signals.
Most modern devices come with HDMI ports, so it is often more attainable than S-video, which is now phasing out and limited to older devices.
Both S-video and component connectors transmit analog video signals. They are old technology and no longer feature on many modern devices.
In terms of performance, component video has better color accuracy and image quality than S-video. It is even capable of transmitting interlaced HD resolutions.
On the other hand, S-video is simple and easy to set up. If you have to choose between both video transfer interfaces, you now know what’s obtainable.
Gabriella ‘Diogo is a content writer with a vested interest in tech hardware and equipment. She shares her knowledge and processes in an easy-to-grasp, lighthearted style. When she’s not testing or researching device performance, you’ll find her writing short stories or rewatching episodes of her favorite sitcoms.