HDTV Installation 101

A man watches TV.

You just purchased a brand new LED or 3D television set and can't wait to count the beads of sweat on your favorite football player, or experience your Blu-ray collection the way it was meant to be seen. High Definition is the new television standard, with many networks offering their programs in true 1080p HD with 5.1 digital sound.

High Definition televisions have a confusing group of inputs and outputs located on the back. These little ports make all the difference between being in the action and being frustrated with your expensive television. If you know how to hook up all of your components, then you'll have a much more satisfying viewing experience. Depending on your television set, there may be multiple colored ports, s-video ports, speaker outputs, and cable inputs.

First, let's get familiar with the ports. Here's what you can find on most HDTVs.

A TV pointed at a TV.

HDMI: HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It is a port that can be used to achieve a pure digital picture and sound. This is the type of cable you want to use to get the best picture and sounds from your tv. The main issue with HDMI ports are usually there are only one or two of them. In the case of HDMI, the more ports the better.

Audio/video Line-in: These ports are red, white, and yellow. Yellow is the video port, red is for the stereo right, and white is for the stereo left. There is usually more than one set of A/V inputs on modern televisions. This enables you to connect multiple components, such as DVD players and console games. Pressing the input button on the remote usually flips through the available inputs.

S-Video Line-in: This is a round port with multiple holes and a slit in it. It's commonly used to connect the DVD player's video since it provides a clearer picture than the analog yellow plug. There may be more than one S-video port on the back as well. This is a low-definition connection and usually isn't optimal for high definition viewing.

IEEE 1394: Allows a pure digital feed to your television, as long as you have an A/V receiver that accepts the format.

DVI: DVI stands for Digital Video Interface. It allows pure digital picture but does not supply sound.

Digital Audio/Optical Input/Output: Whether you use the digital coaxial (orange port), or the optical input, it allows for digital sound. The sound is much more crisp and clean than traditional coaxial cables (red and white). It also provides true 5.1 audio.

Y, CR, CB Inputs/Outputs: They're usually the green, red, and blue ports. They are video input/outputs that allow for a much better picture than the standard yellow coaxial cable.

Cable/Satellite Input: This is where the cable gets input to the television if you don't have a digital converter box.

Now, let's look at the best ways to hook up your system for the best sight and sound.

A remote pointed at a TV.

Best Sight/Sound: Hook up the cable to your digital converter box (could be your digital cable, satellite, or DVR box). Use the IEEE 1394, HDMI, or DVI to connect the Digital Cable/Satellite box to your A/V receiver input. Then connect the IEEE 1394, HDMI, or DVI from the A/V receiver to the input connections on the back of the television. Remember that the DVI connection provides only video. You will need to connect the digital/optical audio from your cable box to the A/V receiver to the television for audio when using the DVI connection.

Great Sight/Sound: Connect the Y, CR, CB outputs on the Digital Cable/Satellite box to the Y, CR, CB inputs on the A/V receiver. Then connect the Y, CR, CB outputs on the receiver to the Y, CR, CB inputs on the television. The digital/optical audio connection is the best bet here.

Good Sight/Sound: Connect the cable box to the receiver with the s-video cable. Then connect the receiver to the television with another s-video cable. For audio, connect the red and white coaxial cables from the cable box to the receiver and from the receiver to the television. If you spent the money on a new HDTV, you really wasted your money if you have to go this route. The picture won't be worth the investment. Stick with high-quality components to get the best viewing experience.

Important Tip: When connecting audio and video, make sure you connect the right ports. When hooking up a gaming console, don't hook up the audio to audio input 2 and the video to video input 3. Keep everything in the same input area.

The above directions can be followed when hooking up other components, such as a Blu-ray player. You may have to make a choice on which components will be connected by which means, because most televisions have only one IEEE 1394, HDMI, or DVI input. So if you have a Blu-ray player with one of those outputs, you will have to use one for the digital box and a different one for the player.

It only takes a few minutes to correctly connect your components, but by doing it right, you’ll notice a world of difference from your previous television. The clarity in sight and sound will amaze you and you’ll forget all how much you spent on your television.