• What is SCART?



    A few weeks ago, I came smack dab against the limits of my knowledge. I've been playing with or working with home theater and audiovisual equipment now for about 35 years, and it's fair to say that I've picked up a few things. Yet, every so often I learn something I probably should have known decades ago.

    SCART stands for "Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs" and refers, apparently, to a consortium of French TV makers. They don't seem to have done anything of note other than design the above connector, which one must admit is one of the uglier things you've ever seen. If you thought DVI was ugly, look at the top of this article. The SCART connector is a big hot mess.

    Still, as ugly as it was, it seems to have been pretty cool in its functionality. This one connector sent composite, audio, and RGB data, meaning it could work for all sorts of devices. Back when it was popular, it was used for early computers, gaming systems, VCRs, and all sorts of professional gear. Its wide, flat pins are less prone to damage than smaller round pins, making it more durable than the connections used in the US at the time.

    A few people in the US claim to have seen this connector on professional equipment labeled as "EIA Multiport." Somehow I never noticed it.

    According to a friend of mine, SCART-equipped displays are still in demand by European gaming enthusiasts but for the most part the standard has gone out of fashion. Why? Because it can't handle HD video. Much like other standards that were common in the 20th century, SCART has faded away to make way for HDMI, which is one of the three commonly used HD connections for video. (There's the lowly F connector used for satellite, cable and antenna TV, and SDI, which is used more or less exclusively in the broadcast industry.)

    I'm not crying big crocodile years for SCART, it seems like a big horsey connector that was surprisingly delicate. The one thing I can say about SCART (other than how much fun it is to say the word "scart") is that if it had been popular in the US in the last century, I would have spent too much money on cables and would now be stuck with a plastic tub full of them.

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