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Buyer's Guide - Connections

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  HDTV Buyers Guide
1. What type of screen is right for me?
2. What size screen should I buy?
3. What will I be using my TV for?
4. Connections
5. My Budget
6. Editors top choices

 

The number of different connections available with an HDTV are truly mind boggling. Salespeople, written Reviews and promotional material will often compare Plasma or LCD TVs by making reference to their connections.

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Connections

When we talk about connections, we are referring to the differently shaped sockets that you will find at the back of an LCD or Plasma screen. The sockets we feature exist to connect a Visual or an Audio / Visual (i.e. a DVD player) source to your screen.

Why so many different connections?

Partly historical, Composite connections for example are now largely obsolete but remain on a new HDTV to provide backward compatibility - there are a lot of older products out there that you could not connect to your screen otherwise.

Another reason is the need to accommodate competing formats. S-Video for example, didn't really take off in the UK but is more popular in the US. Some IPOD docs (which allow you to display IPOD content on your HDTV) use S-Video.

With Scart and Component connections we had the introduction of an improved format. Scart is still popular in the UK and provides medium quality video.

HDMI and DVI are the latest digital formats for video /audio (HDMI) or video (DVI) carriage.

So where does this leave us?

If you can use an HDMI connection to hook up a video source (DVD etc) to your screen then do so, the results are invariably better. Make sure your HDTV has at least three HDMI sockets.

If you envisage hooking up a number of peripherals (DVD player, Sky Box etc) then you need to make sure your new TV has enough connections; most now come with at least 3 HDMI inputs.

Remember the other connections are there for a reason. Your old VCR may only be able to connect to your new HDTV through one of them.

Typical connections are described below in order from poor to best quality.

Composite

Composite connections are Low quality video for Cable and satellite boxes, VCRs, DVD players, game consoles. Composite Video combines the entire video signal into a single channel losing picture quality in the process. Best avoided if possible (remains a feature of new HDTV's for backward compatibility purposes - hooking up older equipment to your display etc).

 

S-Video

S-Video provides Medium quality video. S-video is commonly used to connect VCRs, game consoles, or camcorders to a TV. S-video splits the video signal into two channels, luminance (Y) and colour (C). S-video is a higher quality video signal than Composite Video.

 

Scart

 

Scart provides Medium quality video. A common way of connecting TV and video equipment. The SCART delivers video and audio signals.

 

VGA

VGA provides Medium quality video. It is used primarily to hook up a PC to your HDTV.

 

 

Component

 

Component provides High quality video. Component Video provides a high quality video connection between components such as DVD players and HDTV televisions. The three conductors use standard RCA connectors color coded green, blue, and red. Component Video is higher quality than S-video and Composite Video.

 

DVI

DVI provides High quality video. DVI delivers high definition video between components such as digital cable boxes and digital displays. While DVI provides comparable video quality to HDMI, audio must be carried on a separate connection.

 

HDMI

HDMI provides High quality sound and video. For the best quality digital, HDTV audio/video connectivity use HDMI. HDMI carries high-definition video and multi-channel digital audio on a single cable, so no need for aditional audio and video cables.

 

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