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Top 3 Reasons to Always Carry an HDMI VGA Adapter

Top 3 Reasons to Always Carry an HDMI VGA Adapter

Daniel Horowitz
Reading time: 7 minutes
In the past, it was usually fairly simple to know what type of computer cable you needed for your devices.
The most common type of port was a VGA output, which allowed you to connect your analog computer monitor to other monitors or televisions. At the inception of HDTV, VGA was used in order to provide a higher quality picture through an HD15 connector. But as technology advanced, new solutions were created.
The result was the HDMI port and cable, which allow for higher pixelation and better colorization. Most newer computers have HDMI components, but that doesn’t mean that an older device or one created with VGA capabilities is obsolete. It’s possible to connect your older computer to a newer display or additional device through the use of an HDMI to VGA adapter.

There are reasons you may want to do this with your own devices, and these include:

  1. For gaming
  2. For older displays
  3. For older projectors and video editing
Before we look into those reasons, however, let’s first define the technology involved.

What is a VGA output?

A VGA (video graphics array) connector was created for use with many types of devices that had graphics cards. First used in the 1980s, it was common to see VGA connectors on televisions, laptops, computer monitors, projectors, and other devices. Some smaller tech also sometimes had a “mini” VGA.
VGA connectors contain an analog component in addition to a number of pins inside their sockets to transfer data from one device to another. At the time, they were not designed to be “hot-pluggable,” which means that you could not connect or disconnect your devices while your computer was running. It was also easy to damage the pins and surges could cause damage to the hardware on your computer.
VGA connections also didn’t carry audio, so it had to be supplied from your computer or through external speakers. This could be frustrating for any types of media where audio was essential. As displays became more advanced, new ports were designed to include audio and offer a better quality of picture. This led the way to more advanced connectors such as DVI and HDMI.

What is HDMI?

For many years, VGA was the standard when you wanted to connect your devices. However, DVI (digital visual interface) was eventually created in the late 1990s to act as an industry standard. It was compatible with a VGA interface and could work with both analog and digital devices. While it was mostly used for display purposes, such as with computer monitors, it was also commonly associated with DVD players and TVs.
However, DVI still did not allow the transmission of audio, which was becoming more important as video games gained popularity. This led to the invention of the HDMI connector in the early 2000s, which remains the most commonly used tech today.
With HDMI, it became possible to control the audio of your device from an additional display. It also helped improve video games, video streaming, and presentations.
Almost all devices have an HDMI port now, but if you still have an analog system, it may be more difficult to find a display or device that allows you to connect. As technology moves further and further away from VGA and DVI, it may be necessary for you to purchase an adapter to continue using some of your existing devices.

What does an HDMI to VGA adapter do?

An HDMI to VGA converter (also called an adapter) allows you to connect devices with different types of displays that aren’t otherwise compatible. Most of these adapters are portable and you can take them with you if you need to connect your computer to a projector or another type of display, say if you are giving a presentation.
Some adapters have an additional chip installed in order to improve the functionality between the two devices. This can be helpful if they run at two different types of resolutions or if your computer has a retina display.
Audio-visual (AV) cable adapters can support a full range of resolutions, from 1920 x 1080 to 1600 x 1200, which can improve signal performance and allow you to use your laptop with older devices.
When purchasing an adapter, it’s important to remember that audio won’t be transmitted when you are working with VGA. It only allows you to connect displays, which will still be something to consider when you are using an HDMI to VGA adapter. If you want the audio transmitted to another device other than your computer, then you may need a specialized adapter.
You should also keep in mind that older DVD and Blu-ray players may require another type of adapter. Look for one that offers support for HDCP, which allows you to view copyrighted material.

Top 3 reasons to carry an HDMI VGA adapter

Depending on the type of device you have, an HDMI VGA adapter can be used for a number of purposes. Whether you are looking to play games from an older computer on a larger and better display or you want to connect your computer to an older display, this type of adapter can help.
Here are some reasons why you should carry an HDMI VGA adapter with you.

1. For gaming

As graphics cards and displays have gotten better, some methods of gaming have simply gone out of fashion. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy playing games on your older displays, though. You can still play some of your favorite games on these devices.
Most, if not all, consoles will require an adapter to connect to older displays. And if your console uses RCA cables, you’ll need a different adapter altogether. In any case, you’ll want to know the resolution of your display so you’re sure that the quality of your video will not be compromised.
Most PC and gaming consoles can handle at least 1080p, while some can handle up to twice that. This can be important to know since some older displays may top off at 720p.
Once you have determined the type of adapter you want to use with your console, it’s a good idea to look up the specifics of both your console and your display to make sure that the resolution is compatible. It should be okay to keep both of your devices on as you make the connection so your display can register a signal from your video game console.

2. For older displays

If you want to hook-up an older monitor or connect your TV to a laptop, chances are you’ll need an HDMI to VGA adapter. Also, an older device can be connected to a newer display through an adapter as well. Again, make sure you’re dealing with a VGA or a DVI port before you pick up your adapter because these are different types of connections.
It’s important to check compatibility when working with older displays. This is particularly true as it pertains to resolution, because you may experience lag when gaming or editing videos if the resolution doesn’t match up correctly. This is usually determined by your monitor refresh rate, which you should consider when you are connecting a device to a legacy display.
You should also keep in mind that color spaces between VGA and HDMI are different, which can lead to colors looking different from one display to another. Even with a quality adapter, images may not look exactly as they would coming from your laptop to an additional display.

3. For older projectors and video editing

It is not as common to use projectors anymore, and most laptops no longer include VGA as a connection option. However, it is possible to transmit a picture from your computer to a projector with an adapter.
You’ll want to know exactly what resolution your projector requires so your photos don’t appear distorted or warped. Also, make sure the port is a VGA connector rather than a mini VGA or USB before making your purchase.
These projectors were designed with older cameras in mind and for directly displaying a slideshow. Having an adapter available is helpful when you need to use older projectors or when you’d like to save some money by avoiding additional, new purchases.
Older cameras may require a VGA cable rather than USB or HDMI. This is when an adapter can be used in order to make your camera compatible with your current display, which can be helpful if you are shooting with a 3D or legacy camcorder. However, do keep in mind that it is possible that your camera might have a mini VGA port instead of a normal VGA.
Resolution can also be a consideration when you are connecting your older cameras to newer computer monitors and displays. Audio also might not be available, so another device might be required in order to include sound. This is also a necessary consideration when you are considering the opposite connection from an HDMI camera to an older VGA display.

In summary

An HDMI to VGA adapter helps make it possible for you to connect your older and newer devices so that you can still use your legacy equipment. Whether you need to connect certain gaming consoles, projectors, or displays, an adapter can help you to avoid needing to purchase entirely new tech.

About the Author

Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.

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