TV connections explained

Posted by Toshiba in TV
April 28th, 2010 52,230 5  

Spin your TV around and you’ll find lots of connections on its back. Sure, some will be familiar, but there are almost certainly a few you don’t use. That’s a shame, since every connection has different abilities, different uses, and can expand your telly’s abilities in different ways. Read on, and we’ll break down each connection in detail.

You’ve almost certainly used HDMI before. It’s the daddy of all digital connections, ferrying full HD pictures from Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and games consoles straight into the screen.

It’s the home cinema favourite too, since it’ll carry audio and video signals with a single connection, as well as providing the necessary copy-protection for Blu-ray players to play at full quality.

Most TVs now have at least two HDMI connections, so if you have a spare you can use it to connect camcorders and digital cameras too.

You’ll be used to seeing USB sockets on a computer, but what are they doing on your TV? In some cases, you can hook up an external hard drive, such as the StorE Steel, to show pictures, video and even play music through the TV.

In other cases, you’ll use that USB socket to hook up a wireless dongle, giving your TV access to your home Wi-Fi network. The Toshiba REGZA SL and WL ranges have this option, and use DLNA to access photos, movies and music stored on computers around the house, wirelessly.

A CI+ connection looks like a small slot in the back of your TV. It’s designed to accept a Conditional Access Module, or CAM, as well as a smart card to give you access to pay TV without a set-top box. In the UK, some channels broadcast alongside Freeview are encrypted and only unlocked for paying customers. When you subscribe to the broadcaster’s service, they’ll send you the necessary equipment to hook up to your TV to unscramble the picture.

PC Input
A PC Input is actually a VGA connection. In computing terms, it’s the same connection as you’ll find on older monitors and if you’re looking to hook up an older PC to the screen, all you’ll need is a VGA cable.

Connect the two ends, and your big screen TV will act as a supersized monitor. Don’t expect the simple setup you’ll find with HDMI though. VGA connections will require a bit of tweaking within your PC’s display settings.

HDMI might be ruling the roost when it comes to hooking up HD set-top boxes, but plenty of TV add-ons still boast SCART connections. They have the same benefit as HDMI, in that they carry both picture and audio signals in a single cable. They’re unable to ferry HD images though, so you’ll want to reserve them for your older kit.

These small, round TV connectors carry video in higher quality than SCART, although they’re still not designed for Full HD viewing. They’re also unable to carry audio, so you’ll only see a picture when using them. You’ll find them on some camcorders, and less commonly on professional-grade VHS recorders. However, unless you’re a specialist with tons of ageing equipment begging for a second life, it’s unlikely you’ll find a use for it.

Composite Video
This yellow plug is almost always accompanied by a white and red connector. The latter pair handle sound, while the yellow connector takes care of video. It’s not an HD connection, so don’t expect top quality from it, but it’s supported by non-HD games consoles, such as the Nintendo Wii.

That makes this little connector valuable for anyone running short on connections for all their TV connected kit. Hook up your console, and you’ll free up a valuable SCART connection for some of your other kit.

Component Video
Sometimes found on DVD players, this connection uses multiple plugs to ferry a picture from your playback device to the screen. It’s unable to carry audio, and doesn’t support HD. You’re most likely to find it on a standard DVD player, and while it’s not as fancy as some of the other connections available, if you’re running short of space to hook everything up, it’ll do a decent job of ferrying standard definition pictures to the TV. If you’ve picked a Toshiba TV with Resolution+ inside too, you’ll also get better performance as it’ll automatically upscale the images as they’re received.