What Is an RCA to USB Cable?

An RCA to USB cable is a cord with RCA plugs on one end and a USB plug on the other that transmits audio and video information between media capture and playback devices to storage and display devices. The cable is often used to connect USB-enabled camcorders directly to televisions for immediate viewing.

One end of the RCA to USB cable features the RCA connector. An RCA is a three-channel cable with three color-coded prongs. Originally developed for phonographs and amplifiers in the 1940s, the red and white prongs relay left and right audio data. Integration with video cameras and early playback devices was later achieved through the addition of the yellow plug, which carries analog video data on a single channel. The other end of the cable features a universal serial bus, or USB, connector. The USB is the standard connection used to connect modern computers to a wide variety of peripheral devices, such as keyboards, printers, mice and storage devices.

Other uses of the RCA to USB cable are limited by the hardware and software configurations of a connected USB device. For example, although a television may have RCA ports and a computer may have USB ports, the cable cannot link to the two devices for display. A computer's video output typically runs through specialized HDMI or serial ports and is rarely integrated into its USB.