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Component vs Composite vs S video, etc. (1 Viewer)


Jun 5, 2007
Real Name
I am so confused, I am NOT smarter than a fifth grader.

I'm getting a new plasma tv - it has input connections for A/V (Composite),
Analog Coaxial(RF), Component Video, HDMI, S-Video

I haven't yet chosen a receiver for home theater.

My Tivo (an older model) has S-video and composite

My DVD has S-video, component, and composite.

Note that at this time I have not gotten a DVD or TIVO with HDMI, so I'm pretty much thinking that getting an HDMI receiver isn't going to help much, but my question is this - if the TIVO has composite, and the DVD has component, am I going to have to run both of those to the TV? Or can I just run component?

Assume that I DO get a receiver with HDMI - can I run that from the REceiver to the TV and it will handle the lower quality composite and component video?

And how do you choose between running S-video and composite?

Please help a noob brother out.



Supporting Actor
Mar 21, 2000
The picture quality, lowest to highest is Composite, s-video, component and HDMI. The last two are in most cases equal. HDMI has an advantage because you will always be able to play HD and Upscaled 1080p video where many players are disabled via component when upscaling.

Receivers often convert one source to another enabling you make fewer or even a single connection to the TV. I am not sure which receivers convert everything to HDMI but most will convert at least to component.

You are probably getting close to the reliable lifecycle on your Tivo and when you upgrade it will have HDMI. Additionally you may want to get an upconverting DVD player or even Blu-Ray which will use HDMI for sound and Video. For this reason I would suggest getting an HDMI capable receiver so you are future proofed and will be able to enjoy the newer and better HD sound formats.

Lew Crippen

Senior HTF Member
May 19, 2002
Welcome to the forum Carl.

There is a hierarchy in video connections (from least good to best):


On my display I can’t tell the difference between DVI and component, but that may be due to the HDMI to DVI that I use—or perhaps my older Sony XBR won’t show the difference that would be clear on larger displays.

Any new purchase you make should include HDMI connectivity. Without knowing what receiver you might eventually choose, I’d connect both my TIVO and DVD directly to the TV. But depending on your receiver you might decide to run everything into the receiver and have only one connection from the receiver to your TV/

S-Video is an easy choice over composite. I should not spend your money, but it might be time to upgrade your Tivo. Component connections will show a marked improvement over S-Video.

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002
I echo what Lew and Doug said, with particular emphasis on upgrading the Tivo. You should also look into an HD source for that set, either over-the-air, cable or satellite. A nice new HDTV tends to disappoint when you are feeding it nothing but NTSC sources.

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