How to Connect All the Digital Components for Your HDTV
Combining an HDTV
with a high-definition content source such as HD DVD
will give you breathtakingly clear images and high-resolution multichannel sound. But getting all the pieces of your home-theater system hooked up isn't quite as simple as plugging the red, white, and yellow cables from your VCR to your old TV set.
HDMI or component cabling is required for a HD picture. If you aren't using one of those cables, you aren't watching HD! Some HD components don't come with a cable, so check and see what's included before you buy.
Below is an overview of the various major types of video and audio cables:
The Five Must-Have Accessories for HDTV
Your local electronics store is filled with add-ons and gadgets for your HDTV: gold-plated connectors, nitrogen-injected insulation, fully articulating mounting arms... But here are the five extras that no HDTV should be without.1. HDMI cables
Not only is HDMI more convenient, combining compressed digital audio and digital video signals in a single cable, it produces the highest-quality picture and sound currently available. HDMI has obvious advantages and is rapidly coming down in price.
Shop for HDMI cables on our Cables & Interconnects page2. Wall mount or stand
Not only does a wall-mounted HDTV have a more elegant appearance, it's a space-saver in any room. Be careful not to mount the TV too high, however--the middle of the screen should be eye level from your preferred viewing location. Any higher and you're asking for a sore neck. Unless you're a home-improvement whiz, it's better to safeguard your investment by having the TV professionally mounted. If you'd rather not drill holes in your home's newly painted walls, a TV stand is the way to go. It can also house your home-theater receiver, game console, or high-def movie player. Gorgeous stands are available in a variety of materials: wood, brushed steel, and glass.
Browse our selection of HDTV wall mounts and stands3. Surround-sound system
Accompanying your crystal-clear HD images with tinny sound is like filling up a brand new Mercedes with kerosene. What a waste! For sound worthy of the picture, you need at least a 5.1
-channel surround-sound system. A good receiver also will prevent volume extremes (like a loud commercial) from making you dive for your remote by automatically equalizing the audio in movies and HD broadcasts.
Browse our selection of speaker systems4. Universal remote
Speaking of remotes, you probably have too many already. Eliminate clutter and confusion by getting a programmable universal remote
to control every component of your home-theater system. You'll be glad you did!
Browse our selection of remote controls5. Invest in a calibrator
All TVs have adjustments (contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness) to optimize, and your new HDTV is no exception. You should never rely on a manufacturer's default settings for the best picture. Those settings are intended to make the set stand out in a bright retail showroom, not to accommodate your living room. If you want to do it yourself, there are several tutorial DVDs you can buy, including Ovation's Avia
and Joe Kane Productions' Digital Video Essentials HD
and Digital Video Essentials Blu-ray
. Each provides step-by-step guides and easy-to-use test patterns to help you adjust your TV for your home and make all content look its best.
Or, for around $300, you can hire an expert to calibrate your HDTV for optimal performance. While a professional calibrator is not an "accessory" you can keep, the resulting picture is worth the cost. For more information, you can visit the website of the Imaging Science Foundation (www.imagingscience.com), which trains electronics integrators and TV technicians to test displays and make any adjustments necessary.