Component video is one of the high-end video interfaces offered on audiovisual equipment today. It supersedes composite video and S-Video by providing greater signal clarity than either, resulting in better picture quality. The component video interface consists of three RCA or coaxial jacks, one green, one red and one blue, requiring three cables. It carries visual data only. Audio cables are still required.
Like composite and S-Video, component video is an analog interface, but its three cables better preserve the various elements of the video source signal. These elements are the Y signal, which carries brightness or contrast values, and the C signal, which carries red and blue or color data. Green values are parsed by a deductive process from reading all three streams. Therefore, this interface is sometimes referred to as "RGB" for red, green, blue. The interface is marked either Y Pr Pb or Y Cr Cb.
There is some misunderstanding among technophiles as to the difference between component video marked Y Pr Pb versus Y Cr Cb, with some claiming the latter is digital while the former is analog. Experts point out that both designations mean the same thing on consumer level equipment, and both are analog. There is a digital variety of Y Cr Cb, but it is not used in consumer level products.
While regular television signals, VHS tapes and laserdiscs all encode visual data using lesser quality composite video, DVDs use component video for encoding visual data. A DVD player with component video outputs, connected to a television with comparable inputs, will provide a picture far superior than one using composite video connections. Component video is also a step up from S-Video in that it is a multi-scan technology, which means it can deliver the video stream in differing modes to accommodate various frame rates for progressive-scan or interlaced televisions.
Component video cables are available in different configurations. All three cables might be encased in a single sheath with triple tails at each end, or the cables might be bonded or ribboned together. Three single RCA or coaxial cables can also be used, but should be the same length and type. Increased cable quality, tips and shielding add to the cost, as will the length of the cables.
Many people have numerous free cables around the house from purchasing past equipment, and some people opt to use these to connect component video. Bear in mind that standard cables are color-coded red and white, so care must be taken to match the green, red and blue jacks with the same wire on both pieces of equipment. Cabling made for component video is color-coded green, red and blue for this reason. It is also usually of higher quality and might have better shielding coverage and lower impedance levels. If results are unsatisfactory using standard cables, a cable upgrade might make a difference.