LCD TV buying guide

Expert advice on buying an LCD TV

What do you need to connect?

When looking at which TV to buy, think about what you need to connect to it. Try to make sure that the unit can handle all your current devices but also consider what you may buy in the future too. Remember, you will most likely own the TV for at least five years so you should make sure that it has more connections than you currently need.

Televisions have a number of inputs including HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video and D-Sub.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) allows for a High Definition digital connection to the unit coupled with digital audio, all in one cable. At the moment, HDMI is the most popular connection by far thanks to its high quality and all-in-one convenience. Both the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 feature HDMI ports, and all new Blu-ray players released have the connection as standard. Most televisions on the market have three or more HDMI ports for connecting multiple devices with ease.

Component (red, green, blue) is an analog method for transporting both Standard and High Definition signals. The difference in quality between HDMI and Component is small, but HDMI is the better choice if available. Most televisions feature at least one Component connection to connect older devices like non-HDMI-capable DVD players.

Composite (yellow, red, white) is likely the connection format that most people will have used in the past. Unfortunately, while most new LCD TVs support Composite signals, they rarely display them well. It is a Standard Definition format and on a High Definition television there are noticeable image quality problems caused by scaling. Composite is commonly used in older DVD players and video cameras, and most televisions will have one connector.

S-Video is very similar to Composite except instead of the yellow Composite video plug, it has a black 4-pin connection that offers slightly better contrast and a crisper image. It is still a Standard Definition signal and many of the latest TVs have problems displaying it well. Given the choice between Composite and S-Video, choose the latter.

D-Sub connections are commonly used to connect computers to an LCD television or monitor. D-Sub (sometimes referred to as RGB or VGA) is an analog connection like Component, so picture quality is generally slightly lower than HDMI. Many people will have used D-Sub before to connect their CRT monitors to their computer. It usually has a blue connector and plugs into the back of a PC.

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