In home entertainment circles, some of the most common questions concern conversion from HDMI to VGA and vice versa. The television industry has fully embraced HDMI, and while progress is great and necessary, it has presented problems to those of us making the switch from old standards, such as component, composite, RCA, Svideo, VGA and even relatively new standards, such as DVI, mini DVI, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort and so forth.
Video graphics array, which IBM invented in the 1980s, is an analog audio/visual standard that uses 15 pins or holes in a 3 by 5 formation. The industry has been using it for years as the primary connection on most computer monitors and projectors. Even when VGA became outdated, such as when the industry added DVI and then HDMI connections to monitors, the older hardware was still there, and it was still the primary interface.
The high-definition multimedia interface, on the other hand, is a digital audio/visual standard using 19 pins in a two-row configuration. The entire industry played a role in creating this technology meant to serve as a homogenized audio-visual interface. The beauty of this breakthrough is that it supports incredibly high quality audio and video, but it is also extremely inexpensive. The low cost made it accessible to end-users, who embraced it right away.
As the market embraced it, the industry began to drop support for older standards, such as component, composite, RCA, Svideo and so forth. This presents a particularly big problem when a monitor only supports the video graphics standard array and the input device doesn’t support it all. Many consumers simply expect to be able to buy a simple inexpensive adapter to remedy the problem, but unfortunately, HDMI to VGA is not a trivial connection.
Making matters worse is that manufacturers on the fringe of the industry have attempted to cash in on the consumer need for simple and low cost by selling a cable that has the new tech on one end and VGA on the other. Does it work? Well, it can, in very specific scenarios, but it will not work in the manner that you would expect. The bandwidth is simply too much, so there needs to be some sort of conversion mechanism in place to make it functional.
The solution is an HDMI to VGA converter or display adapter. The good news is that compared to this conversion in reverse, the technology is relatively inexpensive. A converter with just a few inches of cable between the ends typically costs less than fifty dollars. It can, however, get considerably more expensive as you add distance. A cheaper alternative is to use USB, such as HDMI to USB, which can display directly to the monitor screen.