July 31, 2012, 9:02 AM — After more than 25 years the venerable VGA port is finally disappearing from computers, but the interface is proving tough to phase out completely and will linger for years in projectors, monitors and TV sets.
The VGA (Video Graphics Array) port is being phased out with the emergence of thinner and lighter computers, which now come with display interfaces like HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DisplayPort or Thunderbolt to connect PCs to monitors and other devices. The thick VGA ports are a stumbling block in making laptops thinner and lighter, especially ultrabooks, which measure up to 21 millimeters and are getting even thinner.
However, VGA hardware is cheap and has a massive installed base on peripherals, so the interface will take longer to unseat from some mainstream and business PCs. The ports are prevalent in peripherals such as projectors and large displays, and VGA is still a primary connector for traveling salespeople or consultants who need to show presentations or share information on a larger display in another office.
First introduced in 1986, VGA's phase-out as a primary video interface began when PC displays shifted from analog CRT monitors to LCD flat panels in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said Chris Connery, vice president of PC and large format commercial display market research at NPD DisplaySearch.
The analog VGA was replaced in 1999 by a digital interface called DVI (Digital Visual Interface), which is also in the process of being phased out for lack of a clear upgrade path. Other digital or hybrid digital-analog connectors and standards such as P&D (Plug and Display) and DFP (Digital Flat Panel) were also in the mix for some time, but VGA has surpassed the life of those standards.
The need for VGA in homes is questionable with the continued popularity of consumer PC devices and tablets, Connery said. HDMI is being widely used as a connector and entertainment such as movies is increasingly shared via the cloud between PCs, mobile devices and smart TVs. Wireless display standards are also challenging hardwired standards with Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments backing a standard called Miracast and Intel offering a technology called Wi-Di.
But VGA will continue to be useful in the workplace as the need to connect PCs to external devices such as projectors, large displays and even to desktop displays may not go away soon, Connery said. VGA connectors are cheap and continue to be included on most TVs sold, so VGA provides an inexpensive way to visually share information, Connery said.