Recent advancements in display technologies have made their mark on the television viewing experience. It’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come since only a few decades ago during the times of black and white TV. Over the years, TV sets have become larger in size, while becoming slimmer and sleeker in profile and overall appearance. Paired with display advancements such as a Full HD picture, “smart” Internet connections and LED backlighting, TV has never been more exciting – for both commercial applications, such as the hospitality industry and sports bars, as well as home entertainment.
However, with this new TV technology comes more inputs and hookup ports. For someone that’s not up on the latest technology, all these new shapes and types of connectors can be quite confusing. We think a recent New York Times article did an excellent job decoding today’s 21st Century television with easy-to-understand descriptions and useful corresponding pictures to help you feel confident in hooking up your new television:
1. USB: A data connection, often used to connect a wireless “dongle” that can get your TV onto your home’s Wi-Fi network. Once that’s in place, your TV can become a “smart TV,” pulling in Internet content (Netflix, Facebook) that you can access directly on the screen.
2. Optical Audio: Also known as Toslink, this standard uses fiber optic cables to transmit high-quality audio from the display to a soundbar, home theater system or an amplifier. Some audio components have moved to the HDMI standard, but there are still many products old and new that use this cable.
3. HDMI: The current standard for high-definition video and audio connections. HDMI cables carry high-definition video and surround-sound audio in one cable. The content is transmitted digitally, so there’s little to no signal degradation, even over long distances.
4. Component: Before HDMI, this was the only way to send high-definition video from a device to a display. Component cables are divided into three plugs — red, green and blue — each carrying a part of the video signal. Component cables are video-only, so you still need an audio connection to hear anything. HDMI is rapidly replacing this standard.
5. Composite: The most basic — and lowest in fidelity — video connection. Good for connecting older equipment like camcorders or game consoles that lack the newer, more capable standards. Composite video is often located next to stereo outputs (not to be confused with Component plugs).
6. Audio Out: Also known as RCA jacks, these ubiquitous ports are either red or white, to represent the left and right channels of a stereo signal. They provide low-fidelity audio connections, in that they do not support surround sound.
7. LAN or Ethernet: A connector that looks like a telephone cable, but is a little bigger. Used to connect to wired local area networks (aka “a home network”), the LAN jack is what you would use if you did not have Wi-Fi.
9. Antenna In: Also known as a coaxial cable connection. This threaded connection is used to attach an external antenna (to receive over-the-air broadcast signals) or, sometimes, a cable set-top box. Modern set-top boxes usually have HDMI or component connections for a higher-quality connection between devices, so it is unlikely you would use this port.
10. PC In: Also known as a VGA connector, this is a way to connect a laptop or other personal computer to a television. This connection is video only, so you would need to set up an additional audio connection to hear whatever was coming out of your computer.
Did your TV set up confuse you? Would this guide have helped you keep all the new technology straight? Or are you planning to put this article to use in an upcoming television installation? Tell us about it here on the blog.