What do I Need to Hook up HDTV

Have you ever wondered, what do I need to hook up my HDTV? Most modern HDTVs go out of their way to be backward compatible with older components, providing inputs of just about every kind. Finding the right one is the key.

Hooking Up Your HDTV

Your HDTV represents one of the latest pinnacles of entertainment technology. The rest of your components may not live up to that standard, however. HDTV manufacturers have addressed this situation by providing inputs for every conceivable form of video component. The results (while flexible) can be confusing. These pointers should get you going in the right direction:

  • Got tuner? While your new television may be an HDTV, it may not be "HD-Ready." The difference? HD-Ready units have a built in tuner to decode the HD signals broadcast by television networks. If your HDTV isn't HD-Ready, you'll need to provide an external antenna or a tuner. If you receive cable television, the digital cable box provided by your cable company will have a tuner built in.
  • An Antenna? Although it might seem strange, your shiny new HDTV can get HD stations from a lowly antenna. If you live near local broadcast towers or in an unobstructed line from them, you can pick up network HD broadcasts using a UHF antenna-VHF antennas won't pick up the signals.
  • Inputs demystified. The key to hooking up your HDTV is having the proper cables to match your inputs. In descending order of quality, your options are:
    • HDMI - High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connections are the highest quality inputs you can have. These cables carry video and audio in a single cable. Your digital cable box and newer DVD/Blu-Ray players should have HDMI outputs. If so, use them.
    • Component Video - These inputs are used by last generation video players and separate video into red, green and blue components. You'll need to provide separate audio, but the video connection supports 480p, the lowest HD resolution format.
    • S-Video - Provided by older DVD players and VCRs, S-Video doesn't support HD video, but does a good job of providing standard definition video. S-Video also requires a separate audio source.
    • Composite Video - The lowest common denominator when it comes to media connections, Composite video provides audio and video via separate cables, typically colored red, white and yellow. Composite video provides barely acceptable standard video.
  • Using a PC? If you're connecting your PC to your HDTV and you want the best video possible, use an HDMI cable connection. If your PC doesn't have HDMI output, an HDMI compatible video card is an inexpensive investment.
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