Untangling Cable Colloquialisms: The 3 Most Common Media Cables

hdmi cables

You might know what an HDMI cord does, and you may even own one, but do you know what the letters in HDMI stand for? What about the letters in USB cables? While most people use one of these cables on a daily basis, few consumers actually know what these acronyms stand for.

Whether you’re looking for a replacement phone charger or 100 ft HDMI cables, it can seem like you’re reading alphabet soup. While there are dozens of cord-related initialisms you likely won’t need to know, we’ve deconstructed the three most common household cable initialisms for you. Keep reading to better understand their names and functions.

  • What Does USB Stand For?

    USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and it is an extremely common type of cable used to connect various electronics and devices to computers. Since its release in the late 1990s, USB has certainly earned the U in its name. From flash drives to cell phone cables, this popular connector can transfer information and/or power, depending on the device and application.

  • What Does HDMI Stand For?

    Commonly used to direct digital data to all kinds of screens, HDMI stands for high-definition multimedia interface. This technology allows audio and video information to be conveyed between sources and screens with a single cable and connection. HDMI cables are commonly used with high definition televisions, DVD players, and Blu-ray players. Many laptops and desktop computers also come with HDMI ports. With HDMI cables, you can easily display your computer screen on a high definition flatscreen TV. So whether you’re hoping to binge watch your favorite show or make an important presentation at work, HDMI cables are extremely useful. Like any cable, HDMI standards get updated every few years. For example, HDMI 2.0 hardware supports greater bandwidth (up to 18Gb per second) than older versions. As with any connection option, do research to determine what works best for your equipment. For home use, a 6 ft HDMI cable will usually work fine; for professional A/V applications, 75 to 100 ft HDMI cables can be useful.

  • What Does RCA A/V Stand For?

    One of the most common and familiar cords on this list has perhaps the least intuitive name. This cable is often used to connect stereos, DVD players, and gaming systems to televisions and other equipment. Although slightly outdated thanks to HDMI and other connectors, RCA A/V components are still quite common. These two- or three-pronged cords are easily recognizable because their connectors end in red, white, and sometimes yellow casing. Greater varieties of colors can be found with more complex equipment that requires more connections, such as surround sound systems. As for the abbreviation, RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America, the company that developed the technology, and the A/V, which stands for Audio/Video, is added when the cord offers both audio and visual connections.

There is a whole universe of cables and connections that connect our modern world, from ethernet cables to fiber optic cables to simple power cords. Initialisms, like the three discussed above, make differentiating between cables an even bigger headache. By knowing what they are and what they do, you will be better prepared the next time you’re shopping for electronics or troubleshooting connectivity issues.

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