Tech Guides

HardwareZone's HDTV Buying Guide Essentials

By Andy Sim, Ng Chong Seng & Vijay Anand - 11 Jun 2011

Video Inputs on an HDTV

Video Inputs on an HDTV

Here's a table of common video connections you'd find on a HDTV, the corresponding cable to use, and examples of devices that might use such connections. We suggest you think through the devices that you own currently, the type of connections they have, and envision how they'd connect to your new HDTV. You wouldn't want to realize during the setup process that there are five devices fighting for one HDMI input. As they say, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

Typical Video Inputs on an HDTV
Interface Cable to Use Device Example Additional Info
HDMI terminal HDMI cable Blu-ray Disc players/Game consoles
  • Compact AV interface for transmission of uncompressed digital data
  • Able to carry HD video and eight channels of uncompressed digital audio on a single cable
  • Currently the high-quality connection on consumer HD products 
Analog RGB (PC) terminal  VGA cable Computers


  • Also known as RGB analog component video
  • Mainly for connecting to computers that output video via a 15-pin VGA interface
  • Does not carry audio
YPbPr component jacks Component cables Set-top boxes


  • Video signal are split into two or more components
  • Capable of video signals up to 1080p
  • Audio is carried on separate cables
S-Video jack S-Video cable DVD recorders/VCRs


  • Carries SD video at 480i or 576i resolution
  • Audio is carried on separate cables
  • Higher image quality than composite video, but lower than component
Composite jack Composite cables Entry-level media-streaming devices
  • Video information on one channel (S-Video carries information on two channels)
  • Single cable with a yellow RCA jack is used typically for video
  • Right and left audio channels carried on separate cables with red and white RCA jacks
RF/Antenna jack  RF cable Aerial


  • Used for receiving analog and digital terrestrial services over VHF and UHF airwaves
  • RF cables connectors come in two forms: screw-in and push-on

TV connections have come a long way from the days of composite and S-Video connections. Today, HDMI and component video are de-facto standards for feeding HD video to your HDTV, of which only HDMI is a digital connection. The picture quality that these two connections output is far superior to that of composite and S-Video. In light of that, HDMI and component video connections should certainly be present, so make sure that your HDTV has as many of them as possible for future expansion needs. A single HDMI port certainly isn't sufficient these days since you may wish to connect your TV to other consoles.

For now, using a HDMI cable is the easiest way to hook up your TV to AV receivers or set-top players. It's capable of carrying uncompressed digital video and audio signals, so at the most basic level, a single HDMI cable connected to your Blu-ray or DVD player is all you need to start enjoying movies.

Trouble is, some older AV devices do not have an HDMI port. You'll probably find a composite, S-Video or component connections with older DVD or AV systems. This makes setups a little trickier since these connections are only capable of delivering video signals, unlike HDMI which can handle both video and audio. In such cases, you'll need a separate audio connection since the video cables do not carry any audio signals. So it's just more cable clutter to manage. However, if you want to take full advantage of Blu-ray/DVD-encoded multichannel audio, you definitely need to hand off the audio signals to a compatible AV receiver capable of decoding them, and play them back using properly configured surround speakers. For even older AV devices that only have composite or S-Video connections, you should probably think about upgrading them as they're not capable of handling HD video content. Meanwhile, if you can't do without these old devices, make sure the TV you get have these inputs.

If you find yourself running short of HDMI inputs on the TV, you can consider a multi-port HDMI switch as an alternate solution. The switch shown here is the ATEN VS0801H.