There are many cables that can be used for many different types of audio and video devices. The goal of this article is to help identify which cable you have, or which cable you may need.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
High Definition Multimedia Interface, abbreviated HDMI, cables are among the most common video cables used today. You will find these cables used for most cable boxes, televisions, DVRs, computers, monitors, and BluRay Players. They are identified by a long flat side on the top of the head with two indented corners leading to a shorter flat bottom. HDMI cables can come in several sizes, though the smaller sizes are often only found on portable devices such as Cameras or Tablets. These are often referred to as Mini HDMI or Micro HDMI. HDMI Mini will be the same size as a standard HDMI but much thinner, while the Micro HDMI will look will be both thinner and smaller than a standard HDMI.
From left to right: Standard HDMI, HDMI Micro, HDMI Mini.
Displayport cables are a newer form of video cable that are most often used by Apple and high end Graphics Cards. We most commonly see these on iMacs, graphic cards, laptops, and computer monitors. Displayport comes in two varieties, standard and Mini. The standard Displayport will look very similar to an HDMI head, however only one of it's corner will be indented. A Mini Displayport Head will look like a smaller square with two indented corners. We are more likely to see Mini Displayport cables on modern iMacs sometimes called Thuderbolt cables by Apple. Although it is not very common some of the older iMac devices did use a port called Mini DVI. This port is not seen on any current Apple products and has been slated of obsolescence, meaning that no future Apple products will use this port.
DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
Digital Visual Interface, abbreviated DVI, is a common video connector used in many computer monitors, televisions, laptops and graphics cards. It is often described as a trapezoid with numerous pins and is often accompanied by a screw on each side of the connector head. DVI is a little older than HDMI or Displayport and comes in several forms. While all of DVI's forms look similar, the amount of pins will often tell us just what kind of DVI cable we are using. Now, something to keep in mind with DVI is that it is used for both Digital and Analog video. These are considered DVI-A (Analog) and DVI-D (Digital), though we often also see DVI-I (Integrated) which is capable of doing either Digital or Analog signal. On a final note, DVI can be either single or dual link. This will determine how much data the cable is able to push through and define what resolutions that DVI cable or port will be able to output.
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
Video Graphics Array, abbreviated VGA, is an older video cable that is often seen on projectors, computer monitors, computers, laptops, and older iMac computers. These are often described as a small trapezoid with 15 small pins on the inside and a screw on each side of the head. VGA cables are sometimes confused with DB9 cables, as they both have the same shape and similar size, but have different pin outs with the DB9 having 9 pins and the VGA having 15 pins. VGA cables use an analog signal and are therefore difficult to convert into digital formats such as HDMI.