Which interfaces can we find on a Mini-PC?

The Mini-PCs from spo-comm all have the most different interfaces. Whether it is to connect TVs, printers, USB sticks or headphones: Everyone gets one’s money’s worth. But which interfaces are there in general?

Multimedia interfaces

There are several ways to transfer graphical content from a Mini-PC to a display. Our systems are equipped with these:

So far, so good. But how do these multimedia interfaces differ each other? We have summarized the answer in a separate blog article:

VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI or DVI?

Audio connectors

Some of the multimedia interfaces mentioned above also transfer audio next to video signals. To transmit audio otherwise, our Mini-PCs are equipped with different audio inputs and outputs:

Connectors for external peripherie

To connect external peripheral devices, this includes printers, keyboards and also USB sticks, there are serial ports…

… and alsothe probably best known interface:

Additional storage space

In addition to the internal storage of a Mini-PC (HDD or SSD), some of our systems can also be stocked up with SD cards. On one side, they have a low power consumption, and on the other side, they have a high amount of storage space to safe the data externally.

  • SD card slot

Internet and network

Those who want to connect their Mini-PC to the Internet or an (internal) network, have different options.

Power supply

No mon’, sorry no power, no fun. That’s why there are:

Security features

Some of our Mini-PCs have also the possibility to protect them from theft.

 

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15 Dec 2017 Array ( [id] => 304 [title] => VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI – what’s the difference between these multimedia interfaces? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => There are so many options on how to play various content from a mini-pc on a display. Graphic cards provide a numerous amount of connection possibilities (outputs), which in turn face other inputs on the displays. Often that’s the reason for the cable chaos behind the monitors. In this article we will discuss which interfaces for transferring graphic contents are available, what the difference between them is, and which standards they meet. [description] =>

The old hand: The analog VGA-interface

If we talked about an Indian tribe today the VGA interface would be our tribal leader. This interface is available on the market already since 1987 and although it’s slowly declining it’s still quite widespread.
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array and is a purely analog interface which changes analog signals into digital. Although this interface has been the standard for about 20 years it has many disadvantages. Originally the connector was designed for a maximum resolution of 640x480 px but nowadays even Full HD pictures can be played through modern calculation methods. Strong disturbance sources such as too long cables have strong negative effects on the picture quality, this is why the VGA interface was replaced by technically more complex interfaces over the years.

Benefit:

- Wide spread interface

Downsides:

- Maximum possible resolution 1920x1200 px

- Just analog, no digital signal transmission

- Sensitive to disturbing factors such as long cables

- Only transmission of images

 

First time digital: The DVI-interface

The successor of the VGA connector is the “Digital Video Interface”, shortly DVI. Using the DVI interface makes it possible for the first time to digitally exchange higher resolutions. This is possible thanks to the TMDS (”Transition-Minimized Differential Signaling”) standard, which eliminates electromagnetic interference that was usual for analog signals. Although the name of the connector doesn’t suggest it: with help of a DVI-A plug pure analog signals can be transmitted. If the standard DVI-D plug is applied, the signal is digital and the content can be displayed with a resolution up to 2560x1600 px and a frame rate of 100 Hz. Also the combination of analog and digital signals is possible with this interface: one needs a DVI-I plug for it. The amount of pins needed is higher, however the resolution remains congruent with the resolution of the DVI-D plug.

Benefits:

- Digital picture transfer

- Compatible with VGA and HDMI

Downsides:

- From todays view: “Only” up to two times 1920x1200 px transfer

- Like VGA: Only transmission of images

 

HDMI – Digital audio and image files up to 4K and 3D

The HDMI interface is the further development of the DVI connector and is surely the most well-known interface among the mentioned ones. HDMI, which stands for “High Definition Multimedia Interface” prevails especially in the home cinema and console field.
With help of just one HDMI cable digital image and audio files can be exchanged parallel between two devices. The HDMI 2.0 standard transfers up to 2160 signals at 60Hz for 4K-UHD materials and also supports a 1080 px resolutions with 48Hz for 3D materials (see also "What is the difference between Full HD, UHD and 4K?"). In its latest version the HDMI interface has three different plugs; the standard one is the HDMI type A. For applications with little space the type C or Mini-HDMI is suitable. For ultra-mobile applications with smallest space available the type D or micro-HDMI is perfect.

Benefits:

- “2 in 1”: Audio and image transmission

- Space saving

- Built-in copy protection (HDCP)

- Easy to plug in and out

Downside:

- Not as long-lasting as the DVI

 

The better HDMI? The DisplayPort

The DisplayPort interface is a license-free connector standard that’s able to transmit audio and image signals symmetrically just like the HDMI. The DisplayPort was standardized by the VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) and was created to replace the VGA and DVI.  Just like DVI and HDMI the DisplayPort is also a digital interface, which is mostly used in the field of modern PC monitors and graphic cards. The data transmission process of the DisplayPort is better protected from the interface radiation, which makes a resolution up to 5K possible, which is 5120x2880 px at an image rate of 60 pps.

Benefits:

- License-free and therefor is less expensive in the end use

- Low susceptibility to failure due to transmission through micro bundles

- Possible cable length up to 15 meters

Downsides:

-Not known

##Explore all spo-comm Mini-PCs

Feel free to contact us, we will be happy to provide you with more detailed information!

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know-how
VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI – what’s the difference between these multimedia interfaces?
There are so many options on how to play various content from a mini-pc on a display. Graphic cards provide a numerous amount of connection possibilities (outputs), which in turn face other inputs on the displays. Often that’s the reason for the cable chaos behind the monitors. In this article we will discuss which interfaces for transferring graphic contents are available, what the difference between them is, and which standards they meet.
23 Oct 2018 Array ( [id] => 350 [title] => What is SPDIF? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => Today we are sharing an article, in which we want to tell you about the interface SPDIF. Although it is mostly used in the consumer electronics field, some of our Mini-PCs are equipped with this port. In this article you will find what defines SPDIF, what it is used for and how it does compared to HDMI. [description] =>

SPDIF – Digital audio transmission: All in one

The short-term SPDIF, also S/PDIF, stands for “Sony/ Philips Digital Interface”. Behind this serial interface are the companies Sony and Philips who created SPDIF as a specification for transferring digital stereo and audio signals. Special about this is that SPDIF is able to transfer either optically or also electrically. The port is mainly used for CD players, between DVD players and in home cinemas, because harness can be avoided by using SPDIF.

Plug connections for SPDIF

Just like every other interface, SPDIF has special connectors, too. Within these it is differed between electrical plugs and plugs for optical transmission. For the latter the TOSLINK plug is used. The electrical transmission counts on an RCA plug with coaxial cable, very rarely also a 3.5 mm phone connector.

HDMI or SPDIF – How to transfer audio

HDMI as well as SPDIF are digitally transferring data, where HDMI is only electrical, SPDIF can even be constructed optically. In contrast to HDMI SPDIF is much older and therefore has one main disadvantage: At the beginning SPDIF was only built for PCM, by now the enormous bandwidths, for instance with DTS, are too big to be transmitted with SPDIF. A downmix of the data would be possible but would bring significant loss of performance. This is not the case by using HDMI. Another advantage of HDMI is that one cable can be saved because it transfers video and audio data at the same time.

spo-comm Mini-PCs with SPDIF:

•    spo-book WINDBOX III Evo

##See all spo-comm Mini-PCs!

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know-how
What is SPDIF?
Today we are sharing an article, in which we want to tell you about the interface SPDIF. Although it is mostly used in the consumer electronics field, some of our Mini-PCs are equipped with this port. In this article you will find what defines SPDIF, what it is used for and how it does compared to HDMI.
9 Sep 2019 Array ( [id] => 449 [title] => What is COM? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => In the field of consumer PCs and notebooks the RS-232 port has been replaced by the USB. Nonetheless it still plays a big role for our customers in the industrial and POS sector. In this article we want to explain what stands behind this serial interface. [description] =>

Serial and parallel ports

Serial ports, as well as  parallel ports serve the transmission of data between computers and peripheral devices. The first is called “serial” because the bits are being transmitted in sequence during this process.

As the name already tells, parallel ports transmit the bits parallel, so multiple bits at a time. The term of the parallel port has become associated with the IEEE 1284 port that is also known as the printer port.

The RS-232 or COM port

Talking about the serial interfaces of a (Mini-) PC, what is meant by this most of the times is the RS-232, better known as the COM port. RS-232 was already developed in 1960 for the telecommunication and IT field. Due to its easy implementation and its reliability, the interface was also used in the entertainment electronics. In 1997 the last update for the RS-232 specifications was released. For a long time PCs and laptops used the RS-232 to connect keypads and mice. By now, the USB port takes care of this task.

As usual for serial ports, the RS-232 transfers the bits in sequence via one single wire. For RS-232 this happens asynchronously and word wise. How this works is explained here.

The classic RS-232 interface is a 25-pin connector. Since the IT does not need every single one of these signals, the 9-pin connector was established (see image 1). If there is more than one COM port on a housing, the BIOS and the operating system give the physical ports a logical name, COM 1, COM 2 and so on (see image 1).

Data transfer rates of RS-232

As we know it from other cables, for instance HDMI, the data transfer rates depend on – among others – the length of the cable. For the RS-232 standard a maximum capacity, instead of a maximum cable length, is specified. These 2500 pF are reached with a length of 15 meters. There are also cables that show a very low capacity, with which up to 45 meters can be reached.

The RS-232 in times of Industry 4.0

Even today in the era of Industry 4.0 there are so many technical devices in the industrial sector that don’t survive without a serial interface. The RS-232 wins in this field with its functionality, which can be implemented easily and inexpensively, and because the interface is supported by most manufacturers and users.

In contrast to the Universal Serial Bus (USB), RS-232 doesn’t need a special driver for the applied operating system when used as the communication port. This leads to less support effort and to the security against system failures due to possible errors in the programming of the driver. Practice issues with the COM port are very rare. But if there is a problem, it is possible to simply exchange the hardware without touching the sensitive software.

Security overall plays a huge role in the industrial field. COM can score here, too: By using screwable cables, COM protects against dust and moisture in production halls, which also improves the health and increases the lifespan of a Mini-PC.

Differences between RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485

Next to the COM port there are other serial interfaces that have a place in some of our Mini-PCs. On one hand there is the RS-422 standard, also known as EIA-422 and on the other hand there is the RS-485 or EIA-485 standard.

The RS-422 standard stands for a grid-bound differential and serial data transmission. In contrast to RS-232 with unsymmetrical signaling, RS-422 requires a symmetrical signaling.

The RS-485 stands, just like RS-232, for an asynchronous serial, but also just like RS-422 for a symmetrical data transmission.

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know-how
What is COM?
In the field of consumer PCs and notebooks the RS-232 port has been replaced by the USB. Nonetheless it still plays a big role for our customers in the industrial and POS sector. In this article we want to explain what stands behind this serial interface.