HDTV Hints Part 2: Setup

By Mike on 9:39 am

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Once you have picked your ideal HDTV, it's time to set it up. In terms of room placement, it doesn't really matter as long as you can see the TV clearly from all seats. Front projection models need a dark room tough, as well as a screen or white painted wall. Lastly, a lot of these designers are recommending mounting flat panel TVs over a fireplace. Something about the fireplace being the room's focal point. This irritates me to no end. DO NOT mount your TV above a fireplace, radiator, or heating vent. The heat can damage the unit and will shorten it's service life.

Next comes the actual HD service. You have a few options here. Most cable and satellite companies offer some HD programming. Mind you, it's still pretty much limited to sports and nature shows. Many of the network stations that air in HD do not air HD programming all the time. Network HD shows are usually broadcast in prime time, not during the day (even on weekends). Older programs will also not be in HD. However, non-HD shows will usually air at DVD quality. They're in the 4:3 format so you'll get black bars at the side of your screen. That's normal. Cost varies per provider. For HD, I'd go with satellite if you can afford it, since it is an all digital service where cable is not. It all boils down to what you can afford in the end though. Remember with satellite that one dish can only handle two TVs at a time. If you have more TVs than that, you'll need another dish. When you order your system, your cable or satellite company will send you a decoder box. It's pretty easy to setup. Some HDTV signals are also now available over the air. If your TV has a built in ATSC tuner, you can use any UHF antenna to get HDTV for free.

Aside from traditional TV, movies are now available in HD through Sony's Blu-ray. Sony's Playstation 3, at $399 Canadian is currently the most cost effective player on the market in Canada. Your typical stand alone unit is $499.
You can also play video games in HD now. Both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 output up to 1080p. Your home desktop computer can also be connected to your HDTV and it can even double as a media centre.

There are a variety of ways to connect your components to your HDTV. The most common type of connector is "Component Video" which features three RCA style cables: red, green, and blue. They basically divide the signal into separate parts, either by colour or luminescence. This is by far the most common type of cable, especially on older HDTVs. The signal it carries is analogue, not digital but picture quality is still very good. The second most common is probably HDMI. That stands for High Definition Media Interface. This is a digital connector that carries both video and sound signals, meaning less cables.
Other types include DVI, which is a digital signal commonly used for computer monitors. VGA is another one used for monitors, and it is an analogue signal. Composite and S-Video are commonly used but can't handle high definition signals. Most HDTVs still have these connectors though. Sound usually used basic stereo RCA, or digital sound via either HDMI, coaxial cable, or fibre-optic. Use either RCA (if you're only using TV speakers) or fibre-optic (for surround sound). Fibre optic provides the best sound quality but HDMI is more flexible in the number of speakers/playback methods it supports.

As for sound, if you're using this as your primary home TV, it would be wise to consider getting a surround sound system. These vary in price. Most HDTV programs are broadcast in 5.1 sound. Of course, the bigger the better but there's no reason you can't even use PC speakers. Some even have amps built in. The Logitech Z-5500 sell for as little as $500 and has many of the features systems costing twice that have. Despite they're small size, they put out great sound.

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