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Get the Best Picture From Your HD Video Components

Remember when the only acronyms you needed for entertainment were AM, FM, CD or TV? These days, it’s HDTV, DVD, DVR, 1080p, 3D. And somehow all of these devices need to talk to one another to get the most out of today's high-resolution digital media. But just what is the best cable to use when connecting your source components – like a DVR, Blu-Ray player or set-top box – to your TV? What if the connections on your TV and source components don't match?

Setting up your home entertainment system with the best video component connections will give you the best image possible on your screen. First things first, HDMI – High Definition Multimedia Interface – is the best connection to use when connecting your high-definition components to your digital TV.

There are several advantages to HDMI including:

  • a single cable carries all video and audio data
  • HDMI ist he only connection that supports full 1080p and 3D signals
  • HDMI provides an all-digital signal path from the source components to the TV, virtually eliminating degradation and ensuring the best possible image quality
If you purchased your TV, projector or monitor in the last few years, it likely has HDMI ports.

Choose the Right Cable: Standard vs. High-Speed
High Speed HDMI cables are a must. High Speed HDMI cables can carry more information than “standard” HDMI cables and are the best choice for connecting Blu-Ray players and other 1080p sources such as gaming consoles and Internet-streaming devices to your TV. They are also the only way to send 3D content to a 3DTV set. Since most components do not come bundled with HDMI cables, you will likely need to purchase your own.

Standard HDMI (i.e., non-premium) cables are perfectly capable for most uses. Just remember if you are concealing cables behind drywall use ones that are rated for in-wall use. Finally, if you will be splitting the signal (see "matrix switchers" below) or making long runs from a device to a TV or projector, you'll want to use thicker (lower AWG rating) cable. To find out if the cable you’re looking at is thicker, look for a “lower AWG rating” on the packaging.

Convert Older Devices
Depending on your devices connected to the TV, you may have a hodgepodge of connections coming and going from your TV. Virtually all HD equipment, like cable and satellite set-top boxes, DVRs, Blu-Ray players, game consoles and even digital cameras, use HDMI to output high-definition images. In fact, on many new products, HDMI is the only way to access high-def content. Older devices may not offer HDMI ports. Most will have a DVI output however, so an HDMI-to-DVI converter will enable you to take advantage of HDMI on these devices. Once all of your source components are sending a signal over HDMI, you can then use a switcher to simplify and share.

Simplify Your Setup
Switchers are an easy, cost-effective way to simplify your entertainment system. If you’d rather not flip through inputs on your TV's on-screen menu, an HDMI switcher lets you leave the TV on one input. If you're watching a program on the DVR and want to watch a Blu-Ray disc or play a videogame, you simply select the corresponding input on the switcher's front panel or remote control. The Blu-Ray video is now showing on your TV screen. Returning to the pervious source (or any of the others) is just as easy.

Share the Signal Throughout Your Home
Besides ease of use, an HDMI switcher can provide a lot more flexibility when it comes to adding new components. Most HDMI switchers give you anywhere between two and eight input jacks, more than enough for most home theater setups. They also give you the option of outputting one or more of the sources to multiple TVs. HDMI splitters (one input, multiple outputs) and "matrix" switchers (multiple inputs, multiple assignable outputs) allow you to share the signal from your video components on multiple rooms in your house. Once you make all the right connections, your system will be easier to use and you will know that your TV is getting the very best signal possible from your source components.

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