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How to Convert VGA to HDMI

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 7/3/2009

Here we demystify the process of converting VGA to HDMI over a set-top converter box. The physics behind the conversion may be complicated, but we simplify the issue of why you should buy a converter and for what price. That and much more inside.

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    VGA to HDMI

    VGA is a standard that will continue to be the simplest form of a display for a computer graphics adapter. The trend was started by Intel, who created this forerunner to the modern DVI-D. By being one of the first companies to actually produce video cards for their PCs, the standard was thus created more out of necessity than anything else. Roughly 20 years later, the VGA standard is now being used as the resolution standard of many phones and mobile devices. The standard definition (640 x 480), the display now used on phones is the same display that was eclipsed by better and more sophisticated technology on the PC side of the equation.

    But what if you still use these juggernauts of graphics to pipe in that old, early 2000s graphics card to your PC? That new monitor you just bought probably only has support for HDMI and DVI-D. So how do you go about converting the analog signal to a digital one capable of higher resolutions?

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    The Actual Conversion

    Get ready, because this will require a bit more mucking around in rudimentary physics. HDMI is a cable form that is digital, meaning it is broadcast in 1s and 0s. VGA is a cable that is analog, meaning that the signal is sent over waves, much the same way electrical power is sent into your home. How does the conversion actually happen? The device that you’ll need to purchase to accommodate this is rather expensive because it uses a specially crafted chip that converts the analog waves, which are in electrical pulses into the digital language that the HDMI speaks. This conversion process is a bit more technical, but suffice it to say that the way the waves trigger the device affects how the digital signal will be interpreted. Once interpreted, the now digital signal is then relayed into the HDMI connection which pipes it to your TV.

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    Price and Conclusion

    The process is rather seamless, the only problem is that the devices that can convert your analog signal are quite costly – at least $90. But it’s a small price to pay if your device is better than anything currently available. With a few exceptions, most modern PCs come equipped with HDMI port or at the very least a DVI-D port, which is digital already and easily converted to HDMI.

    My advice to you is to tread carefully into the realm of VGA converters. Unless your device has some sort of purpose or function that no other modern device can replicate, you’re better off purchasing a new graphics card or HDMI adapter for your PC, because it’ll end up being much cheaper in the long run. Whichever way you decide to upgrade your VGA experience, know that it’ll be far better than whatever you’re currently getting on your SD setup.

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    More Reading

    But we've only scratched the surface in terms of the actual conversion - here are some more useful links:

    VGA and DVI differences

    Home Theater VGA

    Complete Guide to VGA to HDMI