/ Technology

Analogue VGA cable bows out to digital

VGA cable next to fibre optic lights

It’s a sad day for the video graphics adaptor, aka the VGA connector – this 15-pin relic of early PC technology will be killed off in 2015. Is this finally the end for analogue connections or are you still well and truly attached?

For decades there’s been something reassuringly solid about using these blue plugs and sockets to unite a PC and its monitor, sealing the relationship by tightening the gloriously archaic twin screws that stop them from being yanked apart.

There’s none of this ceremony with the VGA’s replacement, the HDMI (or as it’s not better known High-Definition Multimedia Interface) socket, and its sibling the DisplayPort. A mere tug on an HDMI cable and your gold-plated digital connection is disconnected.

HDMI killed the VGA star

But history counts for nothing in the relentless march of computer technology, with news that Intel, AMD and PC manufacturers will no longer support VGA beyond 2015. It’s too bulky and can’t compete with HDMI when it comes to colour depth and resolution, they say.

Of course, it will take longer than five years for the last VGA-only monitor to hit the recycling heap, just as we’re not yet rid of the parallel printer port. Just last month I was trying to eke the last dregs of life and toner out of the HP printer I purchased when I was a student. In those days we didn’t have USB, just the 1970’s era 36-pin parallel socket (remember those?).

Luckily you can still manage a connection between old printers and new PCs with a parallel-to-USB cable. Similarly, you’ll no doubt be able to link an old monitor to a VGA-less PC long into the future, with a dose of backwards compatibility.

Farewell analogue connections

But digital is the future, leaving VGA behind, and TV Scart sockets must also be on the list of endangered connections, too analogue to cater for our high-definition desires. A high-definition world where our TVs and computers need to be interlinked and the boundaries between broadcast and internet programmes become blurrier by the day.

So, will you miss the VGA (a Very Good Acronym, IMHO)? Does it bring back memories of a bygone age, of the heyday of IBM and beige PCs with floppy drives? Or did you barely notice that your shiny new netbook was lacking a VGA… until you tried to connect it to your old but perfectly serviceable monitor?


Wireless connectivity is the future – but not before Light Peak replaces our USB and HDMI connections.

Brian Whyer says:
14 December 2010

The problem with modern VGA sockets on laptops is the lack of captive nuts to hold the stiff cables in place. I real pain when it is a projector connection on a flimsy stand in a village hall. I hope the HDMI are more positive. Mini usb’s are another flimsy (i.e. loose) connector. Putting them on portable hard drives is terrible.

Rodney Tibbs says:
14 December 2010

I use VGA connections for two projectors and on two laptops, all of which are used for various lectures and presentations. By removing VGA my equipment becomes useless overnight the moment one element of it goes wrong and needs replacing.

Perhaps it is all part of the art of progressive obsolescence designed to keep us buying more and more new equipment?

Roger says:
14 December 2010

About 1 and a half years ago, I built a computer, with all parts purchased at the time of building, or thereabout. While the graphics card had HDMI, neither the monitor nor the built in graphics circuits in the motherboard did, both of which were middle spec at the time. If this technology wasn’t widely available in monitors 1 1/2 years ago, I see no reason to be announcing a date to end support for the far more widely used VGA. We don’t all need the very best HD monitor just for web browsing, word processing and e-mail!

John Moore says:
14 December 2010

RE “The problem with modern VGA sockets on laptops is the lack of captive nuts to hold the stiff cables in place. “.
I never use the captive nuts on VGA cables. Discovered at office long ago that it is safer. The clowns who manage to trip over or otherwise pull on cables, no matter how well they are run, merely pull them out rather than pull monitors off desks.

I am sure that I have sen somewhere that the likelihood of HDMI plugs pulling out is quite high, and that somone manufactures plugs that have little ‘elbows’ to support the plug itself.
Funny how going forward can feel like going backwards.
Reminds me of viewfinders on compact cameras………

Craig says:
21 December 2010

Don’t look to kill VGA off just yet – HDMI can only manange a few metres without some complex extender technology whilst VGA can reach up to 30, 40 or 50 metres given a decent cable.

I am trying to find a VGA cable for my Net book, Ee Asus , to link up with my Sony Bravia.
Reading this I am not surprised I am unable to find a cable that does this. As VGA is going to be no longer in lap tops etc. I also need a audio jack to link to the net-book to the TV! I bought an HDMI cable only to find the connector was to big for the net- book- but– the connection was a VGA connector that is needed. Well I think so!
Nothing is so simple. When I bought the net-book, HDMI and VGA seemed less important ! 🙂
I cant be the only one with this problem surely?