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What inputs should I look for on a TV?

When buying a TV, all the available inputs can be very confusing. What exactly should you look for?

If you're taking advantage of the bargain basement prices on an analog TV, there are a few different connections you should look for. For analog cable, most TV's should have a coaxial connection that your cable line can run directly into. Look for composite (RCA) connections for devices like a VHS VCR. Finally, look for at least one S-Video connection for plugging in a DVD player. If you have a gaming system or a camcorder, look for an extra set of connections on the front of the TV that allow easy access.

When buying an HDTV monitor, you'll want one or two sets of composite and S-Video connections as well as at least one component video connection. Finally, for HD viewing, look for an HDMI interface, which provides a digital connection between an HD tuner and your TV. Avoid models that do not support HDMI, since those units do not support the new copyright standards and could prevent you from watching HD video in the future.

If you plan to use the TV speakers for your audio, make sure you have audio connections for each device you wish to connect. These should include digital audio connections for items like your DVD player. If you plan to use a home theater audio receiver and external speakers for your audio, you don't need to worry about audio inputs. The HDMI connection on the TV also carries audio to your TV, so you won't need to do anything special for devices that use that connector.

You may be able to avoid having a lot of connections on your TV if you run all the devices through an AV receiver. However, you'll probably want to run your HD tuner directly into the TV for best quality. This would mean using one input on your TV for HD television and another for the output of your AV receiver. The real key, though, is to make sure either your TV or your receiver has enough of the best possible connections your equipment can use for each of your devices.

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