Infographic: A Visual Guide To Identifying Different Cables

What Kind Of Cable Is This?

According to 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 78% of American households own a laptop or desktop computer, while 75% owned a smartphone and 77% had broadband internet. With so many Americans plugged into their technology, it’s no surprise that we spend a good amount of our waking hours consuming media. In fact, a 2018 Nielsen report found that Americans spend 11 hours or more per day watching, reading, listening to, or interacting with media.

In order to take in that much digital media, a lot of power is required — hence, the need for technological cables. Cables can be used to connect our devices to sources of electricity. They also transfer vast amounts of data.

But with so many different cables out there, how exactly are you supposed to tell one type from another? If you know what characteristics to look for, you’ll soon be able to identify and use the correct cables for your given application. Keep scrolling for our visual guide to identifying different cables.

how to identify different cables

Video Graphics Array (VGA) Cable: Created in the 1980s, this distinctively chunky cable is usually used to connect a computer monitor with its computer tower or a TV screen to a projector. Its boxy connector design features 15 different pins, with each of the three rows of pins responding to a different color channel (red, green, or blue) used in the display of graphics.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) Cable: You’ve probably used and seen USB cables in both professional and personal settings. They’re used to connect devices like keyboards, mouses, external hard drives, flash drives, and smartphones to computers. There are a couple of main formats (USB 2.0 and USB 3.0), as well as micro, mini, and types A and B. They’re fairly easy to recognize by the shape of their connector, but they also bear the symbol of a trident; at the end of each of the trident’s three spokes, you’ll see a circle, a triangle, or a square.

Ethernet Cable: Ethernet cables are used to set up internet connections and most closely resemble landline phone jacks in their appearance. They’re often more colorful than other kinds of cables and feature connectors at both ends. They also contain four pairs of twisted wires, eight pins, and a clip to keep the connector in place.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Cable: HDMI cables are used to provide both video and audio transmissions at the same time. You’d use this kind of cable to hook a laptop or DVD player up to a TV screen, for example. They’re a more modern iteration of the DVI cable (which replaced the VGA, in many cases). HDMI cable connectors look like trapezoids with two rows of pins (10 on the top and nine on the bottom).

Now that you know a bit more about common cables you might see in your home or your office, you can feel more confident about connecting devices correctly — and about buying the right ones to fit your needs.

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