What the hell is SPDIF? Well it stands for "Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format"! Oh right, well it's all clear now... right? Well no and why would anyone want to know anyway? I certainly didn't and actually still don't...
I bought a new PC. I had a bright idea of putting it next to the Plasma Screen and using it as a media center directly outputting to the screen, very nice! I chose my graphics card carefully (not carefully enough though) as I knew that I wanted to connect the new computer to the plasma screen using an HDMI cable. HDMI is the best standard way to feed sound and picture to your television. Anyway, the graphics card "Nvidia GTS 240" (curse it!) seemed to be a good fit, it only had DVI outputs and not HDMI (DVI only outputs picture as standard, but uses the same technology as HDMI), but I did my reading and the graphics card had an SPDIF input actually on the card... Now I wanted to know what SPDIF was, at least I thought I did... SPDIF will transfer sound, so you get a special cable and connect your mother board to your graphics card and sound is transfered to your graphics card. Now this is where I made the mistake. For years as a programmer I live by the rule that "assumptions and the mother or all f**k ups" and so try not to make any, or at least as few as possible, but here I assumed that as there was a specific way to get sound into the graphics card, I'd be able to get it out too. Now I know that DVI only outputs sound, but you can get these DVI to HDMI converters or even cables and I just (stupidly) thought that it would handle the sound too, oh how wrong.
No wonder Dell didn't supply the SPDIF cable with the PC, because it's useless! As a consumed, I don't want to know what SPDIF is, I just want things to work. This is my own fault really, I was trying too hard, I should have just bought a computer that had a graphics card with HDMI output, as this is what I'm going to have to buy now anyway!
Another solution would be to buy a sound card that could output optical sound, but then my TV doesn't have optical in and even if it did, I wouldn't want to use it as in my experience it doesn't sync up with the picture 100%.
So that's what SPDIF is and as me, you probably don't want to know!