Flat Screen HDTV Connections for the Non-Tech-Savvy

Published: 16th August 2009
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Are you having a hard time connecting your flat screen HDTV to existing equipment? Clueless about which cable is for what? Read on and get a crash course on how to connect your flat screen HDTV.

HDTV Connection Types

There are two basic types of HDTV audio and video connections - analog and digital ones, which are also considered HD connections. Analog connections are those which connect to your analog devices and sources, such as antennas, VCRs, DVD players and ordinary speakers and cable boxes, the examples of which are RF, composite video or AV and S-video connections, as well as analog stereo connections. Some new HDTVs no longer carry these or carry just a few, so make sure you check for them if you have a bunch of old equipment.

HD connections are often easier to spot since HDTVs brag about them. These are the HDMI, DVI, FireWire, VGA and component video or YPbPr connections, which connect to digital sources, like HD cable boxes, HDTV tuners and Blu-Ray players, which means you get to enjoy amazing video quality. HDMI and FireWire connections carry both audio and video so you can connect them to your speakers and video players and receive superb audio quality, as well.

How to Connect Your Cable Box

No matter what type of equipment you are connecting, what is important is that you match the right input to the right output using the right cable. In the case of connecting your cable box to your HDTV, you have to connect the cable wire from the outlet to the box then attach the box to the back of your HDTV. It gets more complicated if you want to record your favorite shows, too, though, since you'll have to run the connections through the recorder first then connect the recorder to the HDTV. You may even have to use a splitter. For details, contact your cable provider.

How to Connect Your Speakers

HDTVs usually come with a pair of internal speakers at the sides or bottom of the screen, although they are sometimes hidden to give the HDTV a more attractive look. Still, it is better to connect an external speaker system. No matter how many speakers your system consists of, the basics of connecting each one remains the same. Simply connect the jacks to the back of each speaker then connect the other end to the corresponding ports on the AV receiver (e.g. front left to front left, black to black). The AV receiver will be the one connected to your HDTV.

How to Connect Your Computer

If you want to use your flat screen HDTV as your computer monitor, you need to upgrade your video card first, unless you already have a high-quality one with an S-video, component video or VGA output. Even if you do, an HDMI video card is recommended for the best video and audio quality. A video card with DVI output is good, too, although you'll have to buy a DVI to HDMI converter in order to connect your computer to the HDTV. Connecting a laptop to your HDTV is easier since you just have to connect a cable from the laptop to the HDTV. Laptops with HDMI connections are becoming more popular, as well.

How to Connect Your Game Console

Video games are one of the few sources of 1080p content, so if you want to test the video quality of your 1080p flat screen HDTV, you might want to try playing one of the latest video games. To do this, you have to connect your game console to your HDTV, which isn't too hard. You can either connect it directly to your HDTV using an HDMI or component video connection, depending on the type of game console you have, or connect it first to your AV receiver. Many AV receivers come with HDMI inputs nowadays.

There is no single way to connect your existing equipment to your flat screen HDTV. Rather, the connections depend on the number and types of equipment you have. Regardless of this, though, the basic rule remains the same - match each cable to its corresponding shape, color and label. If there are too many cables, it won't hurt to get a connectivity hub, preferably a wireless one so you can have more organization and a cleaner look. It's a good idea to get a universal remote control, too, so you won't have to keep a bunch of them at your side.

To learn more about HDTV connections, read Edward McKellen's guide to HDTV at HdtvReviewLab.com.

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