What Cables Do I Need for a Projector?

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Updated November 29, 2022

When considering the question, “What cables do I need for a projector?” you’ll first need to know about each type of connection available. There are several different cable types for projectors, and all of them support something different. There are three main categories that even the best projectors require to produce amazing picture quality.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Projectors use a range of different cables to work, and which ones you use will depend on what you intend to use your projector for.
  • No matter what, you will have a few cables, such as the power cord, picture source cable, and one for audio signals.
  • High-quality cables can help extend the life of your smart projector and will last longer than lower-quality types of connections, so they’re always a great deal.

Types of Projector Cables You Need

If you’re asking yourself, “What cables do I need for a projector?” then keep reading. There are multiple inputs you should expect from a display device. A VGA cable, or video graphics array connection, is standard. Another to expect is an HDMI cable, as you’ll read about in our Optoma S334E SVGA bright professional projector. For every type of connection, quite a few cables fall under the category.

Problems with power cords can lead to automatic shutdowns. If you’ve been wondering, “Why does my projector keep turning off?” then that may be your culprit. Another issue may be the wrong cable for that specific model. For more information on a 4K model with good connections, read our Optoma UHD50X review.

Insider Tip

Always keep extra cables with you when you travel to have a backup if a cable is damaged or malfunctions.

The Different Types of Connections

Some types of connections are more common than others. You’ll need a power cable for your projector, but you might never run into S-video cables or a mini DisplayPort. We’ll go over the most popular types of cables below and what you should expect from your projector.

Another consideration you should make is where to position the projector, especially if it’s an HD projector like this ViewSonic 1080p projector. Accurate positioning matters to get the best picture quality. This will help you figure out more about the options you have for organizing the cables.

Digital Visual Interface Cables

Your display device can’t display anything without video signals. There are a ton of different cables that satisfy this requirement, but you’ll likely have a VGA port and VGA cable. A VGA connection is available on most modern devices, such as computers. No matter the source device, video graphics array is a great choice.

Some lesser-known choices include composite cables, the mini DisplayPort, and an analog cable. You’ll run into these options rarely, if ever.

Cables for an Audio Connection

Sound quality is crucial for projectors. While video requires a VGA or HDMI cable, often used with HD projectors, digital audio works differently. Instead, you’ll connect to your source device with whatever speaker you have chosen. An optical audio cable might do the trick, or coaxial cables.

The speaker or audio system you choose will likely have its own type of connection. If it doesn’t match your projector, look into adapter cables. Moreover, specific models may use only a certain type of cable, which may be the case, especially if you’ve picked up the projector in our Epson Home Cinema 3700 review.

The Usage of Composite Cables

You aren’t likely to use composite cables in modern devices, like home entertainment and business projectors. These are older methods of connection and are considered the lowest quality cable you can use. Composite video is notorious for having low image quality. For that reason, stay away from projector models that use a composite connection.

The Power Supply Adapter Cable

Finally, the last essential component is your power cord. Projectors require their power through a power outlet and do not have an internal charging system. Because of this, your power cable is essential. The power supply adapter cable will help turn electricity from your power outlet into a digital image. Make sure that you check the power cable regularly for potential damage or wear.

Warning

Exercise caution whenever working with electricity in any capacity, and wear appropriate protective gear for your hands, eyes, and ears.

F.A.Q.S

What is the best type of projector to have?

Try to stick with newer models that feature high-quality cables, a USB port, and compatibility with devices that use Bluetooth. All of these features are necessary to keep things running smoothly.


How do I run power to a ceiling-mounted projector?

A dangling power cable is an obvious choice. This requires you to plug an extension cable into the power outlet and connect the projector’s power supply adapter cable to the extension cable.


What are lesser-known types of connections?

There are a few physical connections that you will rarely encounter, if at all:

  • Analog connection
  • Ethernet connection
  • S-Video cables
  • DVI cables

Can projectors be connected to mobile devices?

Yes, but you’ll most likely have to use an HDMI adapter cable or something similar. Projectors that offer Bluetooth or WiFi compatibility with devices will be far easier to use.


STAT: From 2011 to 2012, the export of cinematographic cameras and projectors from the United Kingdom dropped significantly. (source)

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