Slowly but surely, high definition is becoming the new standard for television, but it will many years before it completely takes over. Many homes now have a mix of new and old equipment which can be difficult to use together. A RCA to HDMI converter helps solve this problem by connecting incompatible equipment. It is commonly referred to as an up-converter because it also increases the resolution of the picture. However, the quality of the original picture is not changed and often looks worse on a larger screen. To fully understand how a RCA to HDMI converter works, it helps to know a little about each connector.
The RCA connector should be familiar to anyone with a television that is more than a few years old. It was developed in the 1940s by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and has been the most widely used television connector since then. An RCA cable has three wires which carry the video and audio signals separately. Three colors are used for the plugs and connectors so that there is no confusion about where each one goes. The wire with the yellow plug is used for the composite video signal, while the other two are used for the stereo audio signals. The RCA connector is slowly being phased out on new equipment as the HDMI connector takes over as the standard connector for the digital age.
The high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) combines digital video and audio signals into one cable. The outside appearance is similar to a USB or Firewire cable, but the connectors have a different number of pins. A HDMI connector has nineteen pins compared to just four for a USB connector. HDMI is a feature of most digital hardware sold today, including televisions, DVD players, set-top boxes, and video game consoles. Some manufacturers have already started making products without RCA connectors but it will be some time before RCA finally disappears. A RCA to HMDI converter is mostly used with older equipment that does not have HDMI output.
The typical RCA to HDMI converter is a small set-top box that has few distinguishing features. There may be a power button and indicator light on the front panel but not much else. The back panel has RCA and HDMI connectors, along with a socket for the AC power adapter. Some models support conversion of S-video to high definition, so there may be a connector for that as well. Most of the current models have black exteriors, which allows them to be placed next to other equipment without looking out of place. The price of a RCA to HDMI converter ranges between $100 and $200.
There are a few important features to look out for when comparing different models. Some only have RCA connectors while others also have a S-Video connector. A converter should automatically synchronize the audio with the video, to avoid the annoying problem of watching dialogue being spoken but not hearing the words. The output of some converters is not full 1080p high definition but one of the lesser resolutions that fall under the banner of high resolution, such as the common 720p resolution. A converter should also be able to detect the input resolution and automatically adjust for it.
It only takes a few minutes to unpack and install a RCA to HMDI converter. The AC power adapter needs to be plugged in, along with the RCA input cable and the HDMI output cable. Of course, the color of each RCA plug must match the color of its connector. After a converter has been turned on, it may require some settings to be adjusted. This is normally done using a remote control and the screen menus. The resolution and frequency of the HDMI output signal are usually the only settings that need changing, and they depend on the television being used. Once it is up and running, a converter does not require any further adjustment, so the remote control can be put away in a draw to keep it off the coffee table.