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The sleek front design of your TV is sure to be plagued with tons of ports at the back. If you have ever tried setting up your entertainment center, you will know how difficult it can get connecting your speakers and Chromecast and what not to the TV set. One wrong connection and sparks begin to fly and the device you paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for turns worthless. Nobody wants that.

Then again, you need to set it up, do you? Sure, the numerous weirdly shaped ports are intimidating but that's, not reason enough to let go of this pursuit. Honestly, you do need to. Heres a simple guide on all the ports youll ever come across. With this, you will be able to do whatever you want with your TV sets with ease. So, let us get to it!

Basic Terms You Should Know

There are basically three things that you need to get acquainted with. Youll hears them often enough so let us get you familiar to them.

  1. Signal Type

Data can be sent in multiple ways: either through a digital signal or an analog signal and signal type refers to exactly this.

  1. Maximum resolution

This has to do with the video quality. HD starts at 1080p and any image with this resolution will be sharp and clear with 4K Ultra HD being the most detailed there is.

  1. Associated devices

All the devices you hook to your TV through the ports are called associated devices.

Detailed Guide to Ports

Identifying ports and then using them with the right devices is a difficult task. However, it is an art you can master. Below you will find a table showing you what the ports look like and their purpose. We have divided them under the sections of Video Ports, Audio Ports, and Other TV Ports so that it is easier to understand.

Video TV Ports

Port

Purpose

Quality

HDMI

Video/audio/computer

Best

Component

Video

Better

S-Video

Video

Good

Composite

Video

Good


Audio TV Ports

Port

Purpose

Quality

HDMI

Video/audio/computer

Best

Optical Digital

Audio

Better

Coaxial Digital

Audio

Better

RCA Stereo

Audio

Good

Other TV Ports

Port

Purpose

Quality

HDMI

Audio/Video/computer

Best

DVI

Computer

Better

VGA

Computer

Good

Antenna In

OTA TV

Better

USB

Incidental

N/A

Ethernet

Internet

N/A

Ex-Link

Samsung updates

N/A

With this list, you will be able to identify any port you see and knowing that is half the work done. As far as hooking up your TV is concerned, there are only some you need to really know and well get into the details of those so you need not worry. After reading this article you will be equipped to connect all associated devices like a pro!

HDMI

High-definition media input or HDMI is among the most common ports you will see and one your TV is sure to have. It is a multi-purpose port that can be used for audio, video, and computers. It can also turn your average TV into a smart TV which is why this warrants an in-depth review.

Before we proceed further though, it must be noted that the HDMI signal type is digital and the maximum resolution it can give you is 4K Ultra HD. The port can be used to connect your gaming consoles, DVRs, sound systems, media players, and streaming devices.

Even when there are other ports you can use, you do well to go the HDMI way. This is because it transfers the data digitally meaning the data is neither compressed nor distorted giving you the best picture and sound quality.

When you are looking for the HDMI port, you will often find a few labeled HDMI ARC. This stands for HDMI Audio Return Channel and is used to send and receive audio data.

Component

Before HDMI became popular, it was the component video ports, also known as a Component video and component analog video (CAV), that were widely used. The red, green and blue ports can be used to connect your DVR and media players as well as gaming consoles up till PlayStation 3. It can deliver a Maximum Resolution of 1080p and the Signal Type it uses is Analog.

S-Video

S-Video port also called the Separate video and Y/C port has an analog signal type that offers a maximum resolution of 480i. Used widely in the 1990s and early 2000s it can be used to connect computers and old gaming consoles like the Nintendo 64.

Composite

Composite video or composite video baseband signal (CVBS) is more popularly known as the SD video. It uses an analog signal type and offers a maximum resolution of 480i. This port can be used to connect the TV with previous-generation game consoles, previous-generation media players, and of course, DVRs.

Unless you are looking to view some old cassettes in a VCR, you might as well go with another port. It will be able to give you high-resolution with details you can admire. 

Optical Digital

The optical digital port is an audio port that sends digital audio signals to your soundbars, A/V receivers, and other audio equipment giving you a more crisp quality than the RCA Stereo that employs analog signal technology. While HDMI is the preferred choice for connecting a sound system, an optical audio port is the next best option to consider especially if your audio device does not have an HDMI cable. The only thing you need to take care of is keeping the optical cable intact. Any bending of the wire at a sharp angle can damage it permanently.

Coaxial Digital

The coaxial digital audio port, as the name suggests sends digital signals from the connected device to the TV. More durable than the optical port, it can be used to connect your audio equipment like soundbars and A/V receivers.

RCA Stereo

The RCA stereo audio port offers the analog signal type and can be used to connect your TV to DVRs, sound system, and a set of older media players and consoles.

The twin ports color-coded red and white can be used as inputs and outputs for transmitting the analog data.

DVI

The Digital visual interface port -- also referred to as DVI-A, DVI-I single link, DVI-D single link, DVI-I dual-link, and DVI-D dual link -- offers a digital and analog signal type with resolutions going as high as 1080p.

This port is often used to connect computers only. While not as high quality as HDMI, these ports offer better visuals than say, a VGA. The thing you need to watch out for when using this port though is cable compatibility since not all types will work. Check for the number of pinholes and how they are arranged on the port to get a better idea of what you are dealing with.

If you are wondering why there are so many types of DVIs, then worry not, it was not on purpose, by design. The DVI port has evolved like no other and so has its design. After all, their arent many ports you will find that has a digital and analog signal type.

To put it simply this is what you need to know: DVI-D is digital, and DVI-I is compatible with both digital and analog devices alike. Each of these has two variations: single-link and dual-link capabilities. So, which connector is best? Well, either one will work just fine. Only make sure you have the right cable for the port.

VGA

Offering a maximum resolution of 720p, VGA port offers the analog signal type and is used to connect computers to a TV. It does not give you any audio so you will probably have to use other port in connection to it to get your desired results. If your TV does have an HDMI or DVI port, VGA might be the best chance you have at connecting your PC. Then again, a USB port changes the game entirely.

USB

Universal serial bus or USB as it commonly called offers the digital and analog signal type and can be used to connect the TV with a USB flash drive, a streaming device, and a TV antenna. It has a more multi-dimensional purpose and if you wanted you could also charge your phone via this port. Whats more, if you have a casting device, you can use that to connect your phone, computer, or any device with Wi-Fi capabilities to your TV.

Ethernet

Also known as the LAN port, Ethernet offers the digital and analog signal type and is used to connect the TV to an internet modem. This direct connection ensures faster internet speeds compared to Wi-Fi. If you find your streaming activities often interrupted by buffering, it might be time to switch to a LAN.

Ex-Link

Found on some Samsung TVs, Ex-Link helps Samsung technicians update your TV. It is a tricky activity, one youd do well to leave to the experts.

How to Connect Your DVR to TV

For many of us, watching TV still entails, for the most part, watching channels on our cable subscription. You mainly need to connect your DVR to your TV for this and while experts are preferred, especially if you need to set a satellite dish or new wiring, it pays to know how to connect the two devices. So, without further ado here a simple chart to help you. It details the output port to use for each TV providers DVR. 

 

TV Provider

DVR

Outputs

Installation Costs

Xfinity

X1

·         HDMI

·         Composite video

·         Component video

·         Digital audio (optical)

Professional Installation: $89.99

Spectrum

Varies

Varies

Professional Installation: $49.99

RCN

TiVo T6

·         HDMI

·         Composite video

·         Component video

·         Digital audio (optical)

Professional Installation: $49.95

Activation Fee: $9.99

Mediacom

Varies

Varies

Professional Installation: $99.99

Frontier

Varies

Varies

Professional Installation: Up to $75.00

DIRECTV

Genie (HR-44)

·         HDMI

·         Composite video

·         Component video

·         Digital audio (coaxial)

·         Digital audio (optical)

Fee for Activation: $19.95

Cox

Contour Record 6

·         HDMI

·         Composite video

·         Component video

·         Digital audio (optical)

Self-Installation: $20.00

Professional Installation: $100.00

AT&T

U-verse Total Home DVR

·         HDMI

·         Composite video

·         Component video

·         Digital audio (optical)

Professional Installation: Up to $199

Activation Fee: $35.00

Final Words

Here you go, with this comprehensive list of ports the struggle is over. Youll be able to identify each port and know just what purpose they serve without ever getting overwhelmed. And, getting your entertainment center set up? Well, that will be a piece of cake!