Component / Cable Add-On's

"Wait! Before you go to the store to set up a delivery date for your new wide-screen HDTV set, don't forget the add-on component video sources along with a variety of cables you may need that include DVI, component video, audio/video, S-Video, and audio cables in measured lengths."

Can't get streaks off your flat screen? Give Liquid Gold Clean Screen a try


If you buy a HDTV set or HDTV-Ready set that has the component input jacks and the DVI-HDTV multi-pin input jack, your normal cable channels will look excellent and be reproduced all day in a 16:9 aspect ratio for excellent wide-screen viewing. (Check your sets capability to be sure it will display this ratio when receiving a component video signal from a DVD component with those outputs.)

Also, digital S-Video output and input jacks will provide excellent picture quality on your HDTV set at around 480 lines of horizontal resolution.

When looking at HDTV sets that have a built-in HDTV cable-ready tuner, keep in mind you will still need your cable provider's channel box to convert any optional movie package or other services, as these channels would normally be scrambled and useless to your expensive built-in HDTV tuner.

However, an HDTV-Ready set might be a better choice if your cable provider has a HDTV digital converter box already available. As long as there is an array of jacks available on the back of your HDTV set that supports HDTV input signals (Component, DVI, S-Video, Video), you're in good shape. For example, Sony has an excellent wide-screen HDTV set that has the following listing of jacks:

(See drawing below from the customer operating manual for each jack's position.)

1. Two rear stereo audio/video/S-Video jack panels.
2. One front stereo audio/video panel (for games or instant camcorder connections).
3. One rear-panel stereo audio/video jack (without the S-Video option).
4. Two rear-stereo audio/three-color component video input panels.
5. One rear-stereo audio/video output panel (for DVD or VCR recording).
6. One rear stereo audio output jacks you can feed to your stereo system, its volume controlled by the HDTV set's remote control, allowing you to set-and-forget your audio systems volume setting).
7. One rear-panel DVI-HDTV stereo audio / HDTV EIA-861 compliant jack that when used provides you with the best HDTV picture possible (crystal-clear.)
8. A remote in/out jack so you can connect other Sony products, allowing you to use your HDTV's remote control to operate them.


This Sony HDTV Jack-Pack provides an example of the amazing flexibility for inputs for multiple source outputs its product provides.

Actual setup of rear Jack-Pack for 2003 Sony 57-inch Diagonal Rear-Projection Wide-Screen HDTV Television, Model KP-57WS510.

Visit Sony's Consumer Learning Page


Visit Cox Communications, one of the first cable providers in the country.

Compliments of Cox Communications. Cable box is Cox model. See your cable provider for exact connecting instructions. Click here to see cable connector configurations.

(Mote: Please check with your local cable provider for output jack types their digital cable box will provide before buying your HDTV set.)


Visit Zenith's Web site, the company whose HDTV research has become the accepted benchmark for the television industry.

Zenith DVD Playback / VCR Recorder / Quasi Playback w/ component outputs.

When buying an HDTV set, you may want to consider also buying a new VCR recorder and DVD player, called a combo, and one that has an S-Video output jack along with a component video outputs. This will allow movie DVD's to be shown on the 16:9 aspect ratio in 480p horizontal resolution. My combo unit uses the RF out for VCR playback while using the S-Video and component out jacks for the higher horizontal resolution coming from the DVD. The DVD output will be shown in a 16:9 aspect ratio while the VCR playback will be shown in the NTSC 4:5 aspect ratio, unless your HDTV set has a circuit that takes the RF output from your combo unit and converts the 4:5 aspect ratio to 16:9.

HDTV DVD players are now under the Blu-Ray format, with one third-party product available that will play the Blu-Ray along the lost format-wars HD-DVD. While the Blu Ray's are very expensive, the former HD-DVD can be purchased for about $70. Why? Because playback of normal DVDs was outstanding when viewed on our 57" HDTV wide screen.

All the cables you could ever want.

Component Cable. Courtesy of Cables to Go

Buying a combo player/recorder with VCR and DVD in a single package as mentioned above, may be the way to go, those units start at around only $99. However, as mentioned, be aware the component output may only provide playback for the DVD player. Check out the features of your combo playback unit, which you are thinking about purchasing, to check out the signal sources and the output configurations for playback of the same.

This is important because a component and S-Video outputs will allow the direct video signal of the DVD to be pumped directly right into your HDTV set's input jacks without having to be convert the video, as happens when using RF cable outputs. The S-Video and component outputs, because they don't have to be converted, increase the picture quality and horizontal resolution of the resulting picture. This is very important for pictures that are enlarged on your wide-screen set, your wanting the best image possible to reduce annoying noise or picture quality on the larger screen.

If you happen to have any standard S-VHS tapes in your collection, you'll want to consider buying a VCR combo unit that has a Quasi S-VHS playback capability feature, meaning the unit will playback any prerecorded S-VHS tape. However, it will not allow an original recording on a blank S-VHS tape. This is important if you have any home movies recorded in the S-VHS format, this Quasi combo unit keeping your prerecorded S-VHS tapes from becoming obsolete.

Finally, don't forget you'll need to buy new cables to support all the new HDTV and component inputs available on your new HDTV television set that come from the inputs of all your new add-on components. This includes the cables that will be needed from your new digital cable provider's converter box and any satellite connections or a second VCR (Beta preferred or VHS.) Be sure to talk with your cable provider to see exactly what cables they provide for free, helping you to choose the right cables when buying the set. And don't forget cable lengths, most not recommended to go beyond 15 feet except for the DVI.

All the cable you could ever want.

DVI Dual Plug. Courtesy of Cables to Go

A cable provider may tell you ahead not to buy the HDTV multi-pin cable because they may have one for around $14 for you at setup. It is much less expensive than the one you are purchasing in the retail store. However, the cable provider is talking about a component cable while you are talking about the better HDTV DVI multi-pin input jack (if your HDTV set supports it - see its jack panel.) The cable rep, not a videophile, is speaking about a $14 component three wire video cable while you're talking about the better DVI-HDTV multi-pin cable, which will cost between $120 and $150.

This DVI cable, again assuming your HDTV set has an input for one, will provide a noticeably better picture than one from the component video cable output. Again, not all HDTV sets have this input jack, so check with your salesperson before buying the more expensive DVI cable. And remember this cable is only for video, along with the component video cable and the S-Video cables. You still need to also buy audio cables for each video, component, DVI, and S-Video cables you are going to hook up to the back of your new HDTV television.

Click here to visit specific page to read their comments on the newer HDMI plugs.

HDMI plug courtesy

Some newer products may have the smaller revolutionary HDMI cable. reports that . . . "HDMI Cables offer the highest quality digital picture and sound. FULLY HDCP-compliant! High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the first industry-supported, UNCOMPRESSED audio/video interface. HDMI provides an interface between any HDMI-enabled audio/video source, such as a set-top box, DVD player, and A/V receiver and an audio and/or video monitor or projector. "

All the cables you could ever want.

S-Video Plug. Courtesy of Cables to Go

Also check to see if your DVD player has an S-Video output jack. You will discover the picture quality visually looks as good as for the one coming from the three-jack component video cable, the S-Video cable available at much less cost and is easier to route being smaller in diameter. Pausing the picture and switching between the inputs proved to me it was almost impossible to tell the difference in the picture quality and detail. This is also discussed in a previous chapter.

You will want to buy RF cables, too. If your set has three RF connectors, you'll need two RF cables as the cable installer will provide you with only one for free.

All the cables you could ever want.

RF Cable. Courtesy of Cables to Go

One RF input jack on the back of the HDTV TV set will receive the primary cable line from the wall output of your house. This is usually referred to as Antenna 1. The second RF connector on the HDTV set is an output jack whose connecting cable will go from the HDTV set to the cable box's input RF jack. Then from the cable box's output jack a RF cable is routed to the RF input on your DVD/VCR recorder/ player. The RF output from the DVD/VCR then is routed to the third RF jack on the rear of your HDTV set. This is sometimes called by the manufacturer's customer operating manual Antenna 2. This is important to watch as these antenna numbers may be mentioned near a button on the face of your set's remote control, allowing you to toggle between the sources when using your HDTV.

While using your HDTV set's remote control, one of the things you can do is to use your HDTV set's built-in cable-ready tuner to watch standard basic cable channels without the need of the cable box turned "On." Why? Because using the master cable input signal reduces you to needing only one remote control to watch the standard cable channels that are not scrambled. These basic cable channels will include the network channels of NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, FOX along with other basic cable non-scrambled channels such as the QVC Network, TNT, TCM, WGN, HSN, LIFE, FX, TBS, USA, SciFi, CNN, etc.

However, by hitting a button on the set's remote control to select the Antenna 2 where the output of your cable box is connected (assuming your HDTV set that two RF inputs), this action will allow you to watch descrambled subscriber movie channels and also HDTV programming channels while toggling between these sources using your cable company's remote control.*

There are two ways to watch these channels. The first is if you want to watch the cable channels through your HDTV set's tuner, you will need to switch your television set's tuner to channel 3 or 4, based on the RF output setting selected on the back of your cable box. The second option is to watch all these channels through the DVI input jack from your digital cable box by selecting the appropriate video input from your HDTV set's remote control. My rear-projection Sony identifies Video 7 as being assigned to the DVI input. Once you select your HDTV video input on your HDTV set, you no longer need to use your set's remote control. Simply use your Cable Box Remote Control to now change ALL channels and probably the audio levels, too, if your HDTV uses the same IR frequency as the cable's remote for volume control. (My Sony and Charter Communications get along fine.)

Seeing movie and HDTV channels, of course, assumes you have subscribed to the movie and HDTV cable services. If you haven't, that's probably why they don't work, the DVI's output directly connected to your HDTV set from the cable box. (And bad DVI cables are rare, so that wouldn't be the problem if you weren't getting a picture.)

All the cables you could ever want.

Audio/Video Plug. Courtesy of Cables to Go

Finally, don't forget to buy the audio/video cable that will go from the back of your HDTV to your VCR / DVD component for best quality VCR recording of the standard cable programs that come into your RF Antenna 1. Normally, this signal will come directly from the cable your cable provider has installed, which is the one that comes out of your home's wall.

Also, you'll need stereo audio cables that go from your HDTV audio output jack back to your stereo's Aux input jack, allowing you to enhance your HDTV set's audio by using a high-quality home stereo amplifier and associated speaker system. The audio output from your HDTV set always represents what you are watching on your HDTV set's tuner. (Read that again.)

NOTE: I discovered on my Sony that Antenna 1 input through the HDTV tuner is the signal that feeds the audio/video cable that goes back to the VCR recorder. So whatever channel your HDTV tuner is set to will be the signal you will be recording on your VCR. This is probably a standard with most television sets.

All the cables you could ever want.

Audio Cable. Courtesy of Cables to Go

So when using the output audio cables that go back to your stereo system from your HDTV set, the audio is always being fed from the program you are viewing be it cable, descrambled, or HDTV, as mentioned above. (Not to be confused with the audio/video out that go back to your VCR.)

While many sets have the option to turn off the set's internal speaker when using an external home stereo system, balancing the HDTV set's audio with a home stereo system's audio can instead create great stereo sound across the room matching the picture displayed on your new wide-screen television.

And as mentioned before, some cable remote controls have the same IR frequency as HDTV sets do for controlling the volume. When watching all scrambled and non-scrambled television programs, this allows you to use the convenience of one remote control to change all cable channels as well as using the same remote control to adjust your HDTV set's volume.

If you think this is all very complicated, think how it would be to get your new HDTV set into the home and not have any idea what to do to connect all the components or what kind of cables they use. Be prepared to spend a minimum of $200- $300 for cables if your set has most of the input jacks I have mentioned.

Use Optical cables when available to carry the Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 audio signal in home theatre systems.

Optical Cable courtesy Cables to Go

For bringing Dolby Surround-Sound systems, such as 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1, from your HD satellite or cable receiver, TiVo, DVD recorder, or DVD player, to your Dolby Surround-Sound output amplifier and its 6, 7, or 8 speaker system, look for output jacks on your source equipment that are labeled "Digital Coaxial" and "Optical."

These will need unique cables to carry the encoded Dolby signals for successful transmission to your surround multi-speaker audio receiver. These receivers can take the form of a pure amplifier, a receiver/amplifier, or an amplifier with a built-in DVD player/ player/recorder. To identify these special cables, digital optical cables have a square terminal with a clear bulb or center optical cable at the end designed to capture the optical signal, while the Digital Coaxial cable looks like the one you have always used with a standard audio phono jack at each end. However, don't make the mistake of treating it as one.

Use better designed Coaxiel Digital audio cables when available to carry the Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 audio signal in home theatre systems.

Coaxial Digital Cable courtesy Cables to Go

Because the digital coaxial cable carries the Dolby decoded signal for 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1, the wire within the cable itself has been designed to be thicker than the standard audio cable while protected by a better-designed ground shield.

Comparing the use of the Coaxial Digital cable with an audio cable would be like comparing the lesser output component output signals for the red/green/blue to the outputs that use HDMI and DVI multi-pin jacks. While both formats may work, the end quality is going to be different. Unless you compare their results side by side on screen, it's hard to tell the difference. But once you see the resulting pictures on a well designed 16 x 9 HDTV receiver or hear the sound on a high-end Dolby amplifier, you'll always want the better quality cable connected to your theatre system.

I mean, that's why you laid out the big bucks, right?

* Note: When looking for a signal from your cable box, if you don't see a clear picture check to be sure your HDTV set's tuner is tuned to channel 3 or 4. This will be based on the setting of the two-position switch that is located on the back of your cable box. If you know the setting is the same as the channel your HDTV set's tuner is tuned to (channel 3 or 4), then move your attention to your new DVD/VCR combo unit. If the unit is turned on it is blocking the RF cable's signal. Remember that the RF cable is routed from the cable box first, then to the DVD/VCR unit before it returns back to your HDTV set as Antenna 2.

One way to easily check to see if the input is working is to playback a DVD movie. If the movie pops up on the screen, you're connection from the DVD to the HDTV set (Antenna 2) is working just peachy. (You can also check out your DVD using its second video / S-Video / or Component output if you connected one of these to your HDTV set's jack-pack.) Now turn "Off" the DVD player.

If you still don't have a signal from the cable box, see if you remembered to turn on your cable box (duh.) If the picture appears, you're up and running. If not and you got images when using your HDTV set's tuner (Antenna 1), then something is wrong between the output of the center RF connector from the back of your HDTV set to the cable box itself.

While it could be a bad RF cable, it's probably not, instead the problem attributed to what my father used to call the "nut behind the wheel," referring to where the bad part was located. This means you could have accidentally attached the RF cable coming from your HDTV set to the output of your cable tuner. That is a "no-no." The output from the HDTV always goes to the input on the cable box, not the output. If that is the case, simply switch these cables around since the cable going to the DVD/VCR from the cable box will be wrong, too. 99% of the time everything will now work.

If you still don't get a signal, something is wrong with one of the cables you are using, maybe a bad or loose connector, common to overused RF cables.

Now that I have provided you with all this good information, your cable provider, when connecting up your HDTV set to his cable box, will do this checking for you and will not leave until the problem is revolved, only leaving if the problem is defective cable box.

It your eyes aren't watering yet, there is one more item to know because it will not show up for weeks when using a HDTV digital cable box. When HDTV sets have three RF controls, such as my Sony rear-projector set, the RF out from the HDTV set works only in one direction. (Hello, Sony Are you listening?)

For digital cable boxes that must talk back to the cable company's Head End, this is a death sentence to the digital box, the digital box not getting any signals from the mother ship. Since it has no instructions, it will eventually act like your two-year old child, and no one wants that. If the cable guy has not been trained on this problem, (and two of mine weren't from Charter Communications - three times was a charm), tell your tech how smart you are and that I said he is to use a splitter to solve the problem. He will know what to do from there, and "you're welcome."



Now that you have a better understanding of cable types and add-on components you will need to complete your installation, there is one more point to make before sending you off to the HDTV Glossary we have put together for you, much of the glossary compliments of the former stand-alone provider, Voom, now owned by Dish TV.

If you plan to purchase a LCD, Plasma, or DLP HDTV television set, you will need to buy either a floor base to place your new flat-screen set on a wall using an optional mounting kit to get it up to a higher viewing level or angle. Some manufacturers will supply an optional floor base that will perfectly match your product's cosmetics, giving your unit an overall professional appearance when it stands in your home or small business.

But for mounting your flat-screen HDTV set onto a wall or ceiling, you might want to check the Web for suppliers. This will educate you on the variety of mounting kits that are available. I find when researching even small items like this, it can impact on your decision as to where you will locate your new HDTV television.

We checked out a few sites for you head of time that exclusively offer wide-screen television mounting supplies, and found one that is easy to navigate without page loading errors. Click on the logo below to visit its site.


With decades of manufacturing expertise and over 65 production facilities around the globe, Amphenol offers cost-effective solutions for each application need. We employ more than 30,000 people worldwide. Cables on Demand, a division of Amphenol Corporation, has offices located in New York and California.

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Stop paying though the nose. Check out cables from Lenexpo.



Closing Addendum

I wish you luck in purchasing your new HDTV wide-screen television set and hope you are able to enjoy many years of wonderful viewing.

As I said in one of the earlier chapters, now retired and having worked in the consumer and broadcast electronics industry for twenty years, I just wanted to take my experience to help others understand this new and sophisticated technology, reducing it to a level of understanding that is hopefully less intimidating. Having been a North American field trainer, that is exactly what I did to help retail salespeople across the United States and Canada, helping them to better understand the products they were selling.

One word of caution once you get your High-Def TV home and properly connected to your cable provider's digital HDTV decoder/converter box.

If you have bought your set to watch movies, you're going to miss out on a whole new world of discovery that you may have taken for granted when it was viewed on a much smaller television screen. While we watch select DVD movies from our chosen rental provider, Netflix, 90% of our viewing is now dedicated to watching HDTV and non-HDTV programs whose images we know will 'WOW' us every night on the big screen surrounded in four-channel stereo sound (non-Dolby.)

We therefore rarely watch movies, via the cable schedule, on cable premium channels because that are either 1.) repeats, 2.) produced over 10-years ago, 3.) contain B-grade production values, 4.) qualify as 'been there-seen that,' 5.) adult programs of the same old fake smoker stuff, 6.) or we've already experienced the new releases on a previously rented DVD.

If you join a provider such as Charter Communication's Cable Service and subscribe to their full movie package, they will give you a feature called "Charter-on-Demand" With this feature you can go to any movie provider and select any movie by alpha / by title that is playing that month.

You push "play" on the title you like and the movie runs at that second, your not having to follow the scheduled programming . If the phone rings, you can push "stop" and begin again. If you are unexpectantly interrupted, you can look at the movie the next day and start where we left off.

But our experience with Charter's poor technical service, having to wait two weeks even when the tech standing there couldn't fix the problem, along with their billing department unable to substantiate an increase in their fees of $25 month, we dropped our subscription to Charter from full service to just 23-basic channels, necessary if we were to keep the broadband service.

However, we have now subscribed to DirecTV for all our advanced viewing and for HDTV channels. The total price of both services is the same as with Charter, which included a full movie package. DirecTV's HDTV pictures are not filled with noise as we saw with Charter, now sent to us from the satellite in true 1080i. And the true ALL digital channel selection is outstanding from DirecTV along with local channel access from their satellite, their HDTV Sunday Football blowing us away every weekend.

While Charter ads are nasty as they mock DirecTV's picture on windy days and question their customer service, we have experienced just the opposite. The wind in the mountains doesn't effect the rock solid picture and if we have questions, DirecTV's customer service if fast and extremely courteous.

On the other hand, as mentioned we don't miss Charter's two week tech calls, trips to their office to return non-working decoder boxes, and their billing department's inability to explain added monthly fees.

Once DirecTV determines a box is not working properly, they immediately send a new one out FedEx with free return of the problem component. That's it. At Charter, I had watched a woman at the customer service counter pick up a decoder box by its RF loop several times, the last time the cable came out of its RF connector. When I mentioned she shouldn't pick up decoders like that, she said that the connection that came loose had nothing to do with my service.

That was enough for me.

We don't like to add to our television subscription bill, so we don't use the pay-per-view channels. That's because Blockbuster subscription to rent DVDs online costs about $17 a month, which is less than the cost of four movies on pay-per-view. For the $17 we get about 10-12 new movies a month quickly through the mail, as long we watch them within a few days of arrival to effect fast turn around time. We don't have to leave home in bad weather for pickups or returns. And our HDTV set displays the rental movies in 16:9 aspect ratio from our DVD player using the component output.

Blockbuster also offers printable monthly coupons from their online service for picking up free movies at your local brick & mortar Blockbuster store. Sometimes they even offer a free previous-viewed DVD or a second one free when you buy another at a special discount rate. That's far better than Netflix could provide, Netflix not honoring a free offer when we became members, our paying the required four-months worth of rentals to qualify. When we brought it up to Netflix's attention, it was like the customer service e-mail hit the event horizon of a black hole..

Other Content from Your Cable/DirecTV providers

(check your local provider's schedule.)

However, outside of rental movies there is a treasure-trove of new content from your cable/satellite provider that you'll be mining through every night. They include names such as:

The History Channel, The National Geographics Channel, Discovery HD Theater, Discovery Medical, The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, The Learning Channel, The Science Channel, and others.

And if you have a husband, loved one, or son or daughter in the military, as we do, you'll find the Military Channel very instructive as to what they may be going through during their deployment in service to their country.

We also have discovered HDTV stage plays from England on Discovery HD Theater along with Broadway shows shot in High-Def from New York City on HDNET. HDNET also provides interesting programs that take you around the country visiting interesting as well as famous places, this specific show titled "Road Trip." HDNET also provides some concerts that were recorded live from artists like Barry Manilow, Boss Scaggs, Union Station, Willy Nelson, and more. In addition, HDNET supplies different kinds of sports on occasion such as arena auto-racing from Europe.

Then there is also ESPN with its Thursday night NFL football games in HDTV along with college football games in HDTV on the weekends, not to mention the other sports that ESPN carries throughout the year, some in High-Def . In 2006 Monday Night Football would have been transmitted by ESPN in High-Def if you couldn't get the game in HDTV the previous year from your local network channel.

I still haven't seen any High-Def pictures on ABC Monday Night Football, but there are political problems between these elite networks and some local cable franchisees that will keep you from watching these games in HDTV, even when on DirecTV. Go to Chapter 7 for more discussions on HDTV content.

Overall, like us, we believe once your family discovers stuff that includes documentaries, science, construction, bugs, wild animals, and history, just to name a few, you and your family are going to have one serious problems with your new HDTV wide-screen television set . . . turning it off.

For instance, one program available on Discovery HD Theater was on Sex in Spiders, the promo saying 'This sex can kill you.' The spider was about four feet across on our Sony HDTV 57-inch diagonal set. That'll knock your socks off!

While some call HDTV television a new toy, it really isn't. As mentioned in one of the earlier chapters, HDTV is going to provide a paradyne shift in the way people view their home entertainment options.

Once all the HDTV content providers get their act together and stop all this silly political garbage, the industry has no place to go but into the stratosphere.




Please visit those sites that have provided content, charts, and other material for this nonprofit report, which we have provided attributions and links for positioned under each insert and in each graphic, logo, and photo.

And don't forget to visit our last chapter, a HDTV glossary of terms, the basic content compliments of the former stand-alone provider,


Go to Chapter 17, "Glossary"


Copyright 2007-2008








"Freedom is Knowledge"