While purchasing a television is a relatively simple procedure, hooking a TV to a video source can be complicated. On average, most TVs have connections available for six different types of cables. Understanding the different cable connection options can be the difference between a good picture and a great one.
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Composite video cable
Composite video cables are used with video components that have a standard video and standard audio output. Usually coming in sets of three, they are colour-coded, making it easy to identify the correct connection between the component and the television. Composite video cables are not capable of carrying high-definition video.
Coaxial cable is used to connect the television to an antenna or the converter box provided by a cable or satellite company. A coaxial cable is not capable of carrying high-definition video.
An S-video cable can be used with components that have an S-video output. The cable carries the video signal only and requires separate cables for audio. While an S-video cable delivers a better standard TV picture, it is not capable of carrying high-definition video.
Component video cables
Component video cables, like composite video cables, come in sets of three with coloured ends, making the connection between the component and television relatively simple. All three component video cables carry the video source only and are capable of delivering high-definition video. Additional cables are required for audio.
Optical audio cable
Optical audio cables connect a Dolby Digital receiver to the television by connecting the receiver's optical audio input to the TV's optical audio output. The cable carries a better-quality audio signal while supporting more than two speakers.
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables deliver high-definition video and audio and are used to connect a high-definition television to a video source with an HDMI output.
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