HDMI v. component video – noticeable picture quality difference?

Right now, mainly for remote-control minimization, we have component video signal going from the cable box – to the receiver – to the television. The receiver is about six or seven years old, and doesn’t have HDMI in/outs.

The equipment is a Time Warner HD digital DVR (Scientific Atlanta); a JVC receiver (it’s a great unit, and we don’t have the spare grand to replace it); a JVC DVD player (also a few years old, no HDMI); and a Mitsubishi 57" rear projector television.

The TV is new, and we’re blown away by its picture. We don’t have Blu-Ray (yet), but get a slew of HD cable channels, and TW is rolling out HD movies on demand.

Like I said, the video signal is coming through the component in/outs. Will we notice a difference if I rewire the connections to HDMI? (The audio is digital out from the cable box to the receiver, so that’s not an issue.)



I’ve got a 50" Sony WEGA HD TV, and when I switched from component to HDMI I noticed a slight improvement in picture quality. The main difference was that the audio was better, not a factor in your case, and the TV handled different format ratios automatically, whereas when using the component inputs it was hit-or-miss.

I have the Time Warner HD Scientific Atlanta HD box, 8000 something model, and I absolutely detest it. I have it hooked up by HDMI and it suffers from a host of problems. Most notably, it gets confused when the tv is shut off while watching a high definition channel. This requires changing to a low definition channel and back again before it will correctly view HD. In my opinion, any limited increased quality afforded by the HDMI cable is reduced by the box’s poor functionality with it. I’m only using it because I ran out of component inputs.

Ah, a slight difference. Damn. No difference would have put an end to it. A wow difference would have put an end to it (kind of like moving from standard to HD). But slight? Damn, I’m back in limbo.

My reluctance to futz with it without cause is the amount of crawling behind the television to check it, and the introduction of another remote requirement (changing the input at the television level, not just the receiver). Maybe I should just bite the bullet and spring for a better remote, but I’ve yet to see one under a hundred bucks that will control the few pieces of equipment we have. Everything seems to leave off one or two options until you get to the way-over-a-hundred-samolians level.

I just found out that TWC launched their HD In-Demand service yesterday—all movies, for the same price, are now available in HD. It seems I’ve some couch-sitting-time in my near future.

An HDMI cable will really cut down on cable clutter, since it handles audio and video on one lightweight cable. Plus, they’re not expensive if you get one online. monoprice.com is good, and you can find stuff on Amazon. I got a 3’ HDMI cable for $5.

But he handles sound through the receiver, I assume. The HDMI goes to the tv.

Yeah, I didn’t pick up on that. But it still helps, since you are down from three cables in a bundle to one. Also, some HD content can require HDMI for copy protection through HDCP.

I found a great deal of difference when using my DLP projector. Not only is running fewer cables better, but there’s no digital-to-analog-to-digital translation. For me, this meant eliminating the recurring problems I’d been having with image “tearing” (what looked like a diagonal jagged line appearing across the image in rapid moving scenes), and with interference “hum bars” (they looked like a horizontal bar rippling slowly from the bottom of the screen up to the top, and back at the bottom). These problems are associated with analog signals and signal processing, and are more or less completely bypassed if you deal with a purely digital signal.

The picture quality is noticeably sharper as well. I do sit very close to a large image though, it’s a 92" diagonal (45x80 screen) that I sit about ten feet away from, so if you’re viewing the image from a more usually recommended distance of 1.5 to 2 times the screen width, the image quality differences may not be as noticeable. The tearing and hum bars I’d been getting were definitely noticeable from any distance, though.

I’ve had the same problem as Long Time Lurker with Time Warner’s Scientific Atlanta HD cable box, where occasionally I have to switch to an SD channel and back to get it to re-sync the image. I find this irritating, but find the solving of the aforementioned problems and simpler cabling more than worth it. (Besides, the majority of my viewing with the projector is done with DVD or Blu-Ray sources.)

I had tons of problems using the TWC Scientific Atlanta 8300HD box with an HDMI cable. Weeks and weeks of endless fighting with the box and with the techs and never getting the HD channels to stay showing HD (along the lines of what Long Time Lurker said). It drove me insane.

The problem was eventually painlessly and cheaply solved by replacing the HDMI cable with a $12 component cable.


RE: Cable clutter. Not really a problem here – all are lightly bundled and tucked behind the shelving unit.

RE: The Cable Box. We actually had the 8000HDC for a week or two, and were horribly disappointed. There were a few minor issues (e.g., slower), but the killer was that in the DVR record-series menu, there was no way to set priorities. That means that the filler crap that we wanted to have for nothing-else-is-on time overrode the shows we wanted to watch. The only way to adjust was to delete everything and reenter them one-by-one. You can imagine the giant pain in the ass that was. I think I may have even posted here to find a workaround, but that was just a feature of the box. Eventually, TWC found us an older HD DVR (just an 8000) to swap out, and we’ve had great luck ever since.

Robardin, before you switched to the HDMI cable, which connection were you using? At the moment we’re not seeing any tearing or other issues with the reception, so sharpness increase is the only likely benefit.

ZipperJJ, when you went from HDMI to component, did you notice any downgrading? I’d imagine that the tradeoff would be worth it, but I’m curious if the reverse situation brought out any noticeable change.

Oh, and we’ve never had to futz with the input format, so I’m assuming that the set is doing what it’s supposed to be doing (it does let us know what type of signal it’s receiving).

Component video. Like I said, I mostly watch movies on the projector using a DVD and now, a Blu-Ray player as the input device, rather than the cable box. It could also be that my projector at the time (an Optoma EZPro 753, which I got in late 2001) had an inferior Analog-to-Digital chip than what you’ve got now in your HDTV. So if you’re fine with using component input, are having trouble with your cable box using HDMI and are using that cable box as your primary input, then by all means stick with component video.

I’ve got a 50" 1080i plasma TV and Dish Network HD service. Audio goes to the surround system and the TV’s speakers are off.

For reasons that elude me, Dish sends the boxes out with S-video and component cables, but no HDMI. As a result, the box was initally installed with the component cables.

As soon as the installer left, I ran out and grabbed the first cheap HDMI cable I saw at Fry’s. The difference was not night and day, but it is definitely noticeable - along the lines of going from plain old composite video to S-video. The component connection wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t stand the idea of throwing away image quality that was available to me if I just bought a seven dollar cable and wriggled back there just once to plug it in.

As for remotes, take a look at Amazon and see if they still have the refurbished Harmony / Logitech 880 remote. I picked one up for $100 and it handles the whole game - turning on the TV, the Dish box, the amplifier, setting the amp to the appropriate input, setting the TV to the appropriate input, and so on, just by pressing the “Watch TV” button. No more wondering if the TV needs to be on HDMI 2 or HDMI 3, and whether the amp needs to be on VIDEO 1 or VIDEO 2. They do take a fair bit of effort to set up initially, but once you get it all sorted out, they’re great. And, if you ever break the remote, you can synch up its replacement as the programming is stored either on your computer or on the Logitech website.