Connecting up a TV – what do I need to know?
Got your new TV, but not sure how to connect what where? Feeling out of your depth with the mass of cables and hundreds of technical terms? Or do you actually have a fairly good idea of what you’re doing and have already pretty much got everything set up and ready to go, except for that one darned Blu-ray player or game console that simply won’t transmit a picture?
Then you’ve come to the right place! This Techblog article will explain in detail how to connect up your TV and devices. So that nothing stands in the way of your multimedia fun.
- What do I need to connect up my TV?
- How do I connect up my TV?
- Connecting up your TV: Problems and solutions
- How to connect your TV to the Internet
- HDMI cable: Connecting other devices to your TV
- Which other interfaces can I use for what?
- How can I connect my PC, laptop, or iPad to my TV?
- Can I connect multiple TVs to one antenna socket?
- What connection does my TV need to receive satellite channels?
- Which socket do I need for cable TV?
- How can I find out if I have cable or an antenna?
- Which is better – cable TV or satellite TV?
- Antenna socket
- Coaxial cable (antenna cable/SAT adapter/F connector)
- Possibly a receiver (usually integrated in modern TVs)
- For connecting devices to your TV: HDMI cable
When deciding where to put your TV, it’s important to position it close to an antenna socket. This is because if coaxial cables are too long, this can reduce the signal quality, causing picture interference or distortion. The antenna socket is a white, rectangular, triple-outlet socket: The left outlet is for connecting the TV, and the other two outlets are for radio and Internet (“Data”), respectively.
For older TVs, you’ll need to buy a receiver. New TVs usually have an integrated receiver for all types of TV connection (cable, satellite, digital).
Connecting your TV to cable TV
If your house or apartment has a cable connection, connecting and setting up your TV for cable TV will be relatively easy. Simply plug the end of the coaxial cable with the recessed hole (the female connector) into the left antenna socket outlet. This is often labeled “TV”. Plug the other end (the male connector) into the TV. The socket for this is usually labeled “ANT” (antenna) or “Cable”. If you’re using a receiver, follow the same procedure, but plug the male connector into the receiver instead of the TV. You’ll then need to use an HDMI cable to connect the receiver to your TV.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to search for channels on your TV. This process is usually much faster for cable TV (compared to satellite TV), and sometimes not even necessary, since the cable TV provider will already have “preselected” channels. This will, however, limit the variety of programs available for you to watch.
Connecting your TV to satellite TV
To connect your TV to satellite TV, you’ll need to put the SAT adapter (F connector) in the top antenna socket outlet. You can tell which outlet you need here by the fact that it has a screw-in connection rather than a plug-in connection. Screw the connector into the outlet securely, to prevent it from coming loose. If your TV has an integrated receiver, attach the other end to the TV; this is also screw-in connection and will be labeled “SAT” or “LNB IN”.
If your TV doesn’t have an integrated satellite TV receiver, you’ll need to connect the satellite cable to the receiver, and then use an HDMI cable to connect the receiver to your TV. Once connected, you’ll need to start the automatic channel search. This can take a long time for satellite TV. How long will depend on the relevant settings, region, weather, satellite specifications, as well as the number of satellite dishes and dish orientation.
Antenna cable is too short
If your TV is too far away from the antenna socket, or if there isn’t an antenna socket in the room, you may underestimate how long the cable needs to be. It’s always a good idea to measure the distance between the antenna socket and your TV or receiver before buying a cable. It’s also best to buy a cable that’s a little too long, so that you can use the same cable if you want to change things around in the room and have your TV elsewhere. In principle, however, you should avoid buying a cable that is too long (over 50 m), since the signal quality may be reduced, depending on the cable quality and length. A cable that is poor quality or too long may cause picture interference or distortion. Another option is to connect another cable as an extension.
I haven’t got an antenna socket
If you haven’t got an antenna socket in the room in which you want to have your TV, or indeed anywhere in your house or apartment, the first thing you’ll need to do is install one. If the cables are already in the wall and it’s only the socket that’s missing, we strongly recommend that you hire a professional to install one, rather than do the job yourself.
If it’s not possible to install an antenna socket, you can always resort to digital TV and stream programs over the Internet. Many TV channels, including German channels, are available to watch live online 24/7.
Most new TVs are smart TVs. These days, many people get the majority of their multimedia content over the Internet. Whether Netflix, Amazon Prime, media libraries, YouTube, or any other Internet service: most people don’t just use their TV to watch conventional TV channels anymore. Your TV will also need an Internet connection in order to carry out firmware updates; alternatively, you can use a USB stick here. It is generally advisable that you regularly update your TV to the latest version, since this is where bugs are fixed and new features may be added.
To connect to the Internet, you can use either a LAN cable (Ethernet cable) or the WLAN module that is integrated in newer TVs. Only use the latter if your router is not within range and there is no LAN cable network within range either. WLAN connections are generally not as stable as wired Internet connections – in particular at higher data rates, such as those that occur with 4K broadcasts, irritating buffering can occur.
Another way to connect your TV via LAN cable is to use a powerline adapter. With a powerline adapter, the Internet signal is connected via the house/apartment mains. To use the devices, one adapter needs to be plugged into the router and the other into the TV.
You can connect all other devices, such as game consoles, PCs, receivers, and DVD and Blu-ray players, to your TV via HDMI. With HDMI, image and video are transmitted simultaneously without any loss of signal quality, which is why you don’t need any additional cables.
Please note, however, that the latest game consoles (Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5) will only be able to output a picture with the highest resolution and refresh rate (4k 120 Hz/8k 60 Hz) if your TV supports HDMI 2.1. Here again, it’s important that TVs only have a limited number of inputs for this “highest” HDMI level. The remaining input ports support HDMI 2.0, which is perfectly adequate for conventional devices up to 4k 60 Hz. Be sure to connect your game console to the right port! In most cases, it’s the anterior or first HDMI ports labeled “HDMI 1” and “HDMI 2” that support HDMI 2.1. The cable must also be able to support HDMI 2.1, which means that you can’t simply use a conventional HDMI cable. Otherwise that’s all you need to know for connecting your devices to your TV via HDMI. The two cable ends are identical and can be connected to your TV or device either way round.
In addition to an HDMI input port, some TVs also have a DisplayPort input port. HDMI and DisplayPort input ports look similar, but DisplayPort input ports are slightly wider and have one notch instead of two. They are labeled “DP” on devices. You can connect laptops and computers via them.
You can connect hard drives, cameras, cell phones, and USB sticks to your TV via the USB port. Check that your TV can playback the media content on your external medium. On some TVs, the integrated media player software is super selective, so the file format needs to be one that’s supported. You’re generally safe with MP3, MP4, and JPG files.
This very distinctive-looking, flat slot is suitable for HD+ modules. If you want to watch private channels in premium high-definition quality, you’ll need to specifically request an HD+ module from each individual private broadcaster. Some channels are only available with an HD+ module.
Many higher-priced TVs have integrated Bluetooth. This allows you to wirelessly connect headphones or speakers to your TV or wirelessly transfer videos or images to your TV from your tablet or smartphone.
You can connect your PC, laptop, or iPad to your TV using an HDMI cable; alternatively, some TVs also have a DisplayPort (DP) connection. Some slimmer laptops don’t have a full HDMI connection. If this is the case, you can use an adapter (USB/Lightning to HDMI).
For content from iPads, you can either transfer it via AppleTV (hardware available separately) or convert it to HDMI using a Lightning adapter (or USB-C connector for the latest iPads).
You can quickly and easily connect multiple TVs to one antenna socket using a T adapter, which you simply plug into the antenna socket. Make sure you don’t connect too many TVs to one antenna socket, since the signal quality will be halved for each TV set connected.
If your TV has an integrated satellite receiver, the satellite port on the back of your TV will be labelled “SAT” or “LNB IN”. This input port can be identified by its screw-in connection. A coaxial cable must be used here, with one end screwed into the relevant input port and the other end into the antenna socket. If there is no “SAT” or “LNB IN” port on the back of your TV, you’ll need to connect up a satellite receiver between the antenna socket and your TV.
To connect your TV to cable TV, you need to use a coaxial cable. The socket for this is usually labeled “Cable” or “ANT” (antenna). This round socket can be easily identified by the fact that it protrudes from the back of the TV. If you can’t see this socket on your TV, it means that your TV does not have an integrated cable TV receiver. You’ll therefore need to buy a cable TV receiver and connect it up to your TV using a coaxial cable, putting one end into the receiver and the other end into the antenna socket.
There are several ways to find out if you can get cable or satellite TV. The first way is to look at the roof of your house or apartment. If you can see a satellite dish, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get satellite TV.
If you get your Internet via cable, cable TV is also usually included in your bundle. If you’re not sure if it is, simply contact your Internet provider. If you’re living in a rental, you can ask your landlord or property management company which connection is available. In larger apartment buildings, you can also ask neighbors. And last but not least, simple trial and error can help – at least as long as you’ve got the right cables.
There’s basically no clear-cut answer here, since there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Satellite TV has the advantage that you can easily receive all available channels, including from other regions and in other languages. There’s also a far greater variety of programs available compared to cable TV. One disadvantage, though, is the high purchase cost of a satellite dish, if you don’t already have one. Wind and weather can also have a huge impact on signal quality. If it’s stormy or snowy out, you may not be able to receive any channels at all. One advantage of a satellite dish is that there are no monthly fees to pay. With cable TV, either the monthly charges (approx. €10 - €15) will be included in your rental contract or, if you own your own home, you’ll need pay these to the cable network operator.
Provided they are installed correctly and the cable runs are short, the signal quality is identical for both cable and satellite TV. Satellite TV images may arrive a few seconds faster because the delay is shorter. Which explains why that neighbor with a satellite dish always seems to cheer goals a few seconds earlier.
All in all, connecting up a TV is relatively simple today. Newer TVs take a lot of the stress out of the connection process. With integrated receivers and no separate audio/video connections, you no longer have to fiddle around with cables and ports. In fact, all some people really want and need is an HDMI cable for their game console and an Internet connection. The trend is definitely moving toward online streaming: One or maybe two decades from now, it’s possible that conventional TV will become niche, and all anyone will require for all their multimedia needs is an Internet connection.