To enjoy HDTV, you need more than a new TV set. You need other equipment for the HDTV installation, as well, and HD service to get the programming. You need the right cables, jacks (“plug-ins”), instructions and a few assurances, too. With this checklist, you’ll get a detailed yet simple parts and services list, and the information to put it all together and make it work. Everything is easy to acquire and connect, and much of this information will be like second nature to those with any experience hooking up traditional TVs or stereo equipment.
Ever put a bicycle together? Well, this should be easier. That’s right, easier. Read the checklist, gather what you need and get your HDTV installation going!
What You’ll Need For Installation
Here’s your equipment list:
- An HDTV set
- HDTV service: cable, fiber-optic, satellite or broadcast (antenna).
- An HDTV “set-top box,” “converter,” “tuner” or “decoder” from your service provider (we will use “set-top box” or “box” generically for all)
- An HDTV antenna (if you are using this service)
- High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables (you can use HDMI cables–for digital video and audio across a single cable–between any devices that have the appropriate HDMI jacks)
- Other cables (used where HDMI is not available, in order of best performance):
- Video cables
- 1. Component Video cables
- 2. S-Video cable
- 3. Composite Video
- Audio cables
- 1. Optical TOSLink
- 2. Digital coaxial cable
- 3. RCA (your retailer will know)
- Video cables
- Optional equipment includes an HD-DVD players, audio receiver, HDTV TiVo or DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and video game equipment.
Your HDTV Installation Comes Together
Here’s what you need to do to get up and running:
1. Confirm that your HDTV service has been turned on.
2. Compile instructions for your HDTV set, set top box, service and other hardware. Keep vendor phone numbers handy.
3. Begin with video connections. You can connect any two pieces of equipment that are HDMI compatible (having HDMI female jacks) with one HDMI cable (see Figure One). HDMI is the only fully digital video and audio connection type made specifically for HDTV. Connect your TV and set top box using an HDMI cable. The HDMI cable has two male ends that connect to a female jack on each piece of hardware.
Where HDMI connections are not available, your next best choice for video will be component video cable connections. You will find these on your hardware as three RCA female jacks labeled “Y, Cb/pb, Cr/Pr” or “Y/G, Pb/B, Pr/R” (see Figure Two).
The three component video cables are color-coded, each matching its appropriately colored female jack on both the TV and set top box. This helps ensure that you plug the same cable into the right connections on both pieces of hardware. Plug in the cables.
You can use an S-Video cable to move video signal from device to device, though it is unlikely you will need to rely on it except perhaps with some older, optional hardware. The jacks are labeled “S-Video”.
A single, composite video cable, which you may also encounter on older hardware, will be color coded to match its female jacks, labeled Video. This is the least favorable video option.
4. Now it’s time for audio. The next best audio connection (barring HDMI) is Optical TOSLink. If connections for optical TOSLink are available on the TV and box, you can use one of these cables. Look on your hardware for a label like “Opt” or Optical for the female TOSLink jacks.
Digital audio coaxial cable jacks are single jacks labeled “digital audio” and “coaxial”, or something comparable. A single digital audio coaxial cable can be used where neither HDMI nor Optical jacks are found.
If you have to make the audio connection with left and right analog RCA cables, the two jacks will be labeled audio or analog audio. These are color coded to match the cables. That is the least favorable audio option.
5. You’re ready to make sure your HDTV set and set top box are ready to go to work. Select your settings on the HDTV screen using the remote control. (See the instructions that come with the service provider’s box and the specifications that come with your TV for further clarification.)
The box may need to be set to use the same “input” resolution as your TV. So that you will recognize your choices when you see them, they include numbers and names like “1080 interlaced” or “1080i” and “720 progressive” or “720p” (See article #141 “HDTV FAQ” for more on this).
Other settings set your TV to recognize the right HD signal source and service for your HDTV programming (cable, satellite, DVD player or antenna) and the right connections for sound and video–the ones you physically connected from among the available choices.
Final settings include things like “aspect ratio.” As you run through the on-screen menu, look for this setting, and select “full screen mode” or a “16:9” (16-to-9) ratio. If you plan to receive HDTV signal and programming through an HD compatible antenna, you need to run through the tuner/decoder’s settings, setting up your antenna for the strongest signal reception (refer to the device’s manual).
6. Any additional equipment you may have can be dealt with at this point. HDTV TiVo, DVRs, HD-DVD players, video games and other equipment will require additional cables and considerations. Any additional hardware will have to be compatible with your existing HDTV equipment, particularly with respect to the kinds of cables you can use between them. Contact your service provider or the appropriate vendor for DVR, TiVo and video game console installation and usage.
Two kinds of digital DVD players and discs (Blu-Ray and HD-DVD) are available. Because they aren’t compatible formats, you may want to wait out the competition between the two formats until there is only one. If you opt to buy a player, most models have multiple cable connections for audio and video (the same as those already mentioned).
Always connect to the “out” jack on the device the signal is coming from and the “in” jack on the device the signal is going to. For example, if you are playing from your HD-DVD player to your TV, connect to the out jack on the player and the in jack on the TV.
As you can see, the process of putting your HDTV equipment together is pretty much painless, not prone to mistakes or missteps you can’t easily remedy: Nothing can get broken.
With a little preparation and forethought, you should be able to walk through this checklist in no time (without scratching your head or getting that uneasy feeling in your stomach). Then, just sit back, relax — and enjoy!