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TV Ports Guide: How to Hook Up Your TV

Guide to TV Ports

If you’re like most of us and don’t know your RCA ports from your Component ports, don’t worry. This TV Port guide will help you understand and differentiate between all the ports hidden around your TV and devices. This way you won’t have to wait around for the Contour TV technician every time you’re having trouble connecting a device to your TV.

Before we get into the technical side of things, let go over some of the frequently used terms.

Frequently Used Terms

Here are some terms you will read throughout this blog:

  • Port: A port is just the name given to the socket on your TV or any device, which you use to plug cables in. Charging port is a socket on your phone where you can plug in the charger.
  • Signal Type: A signal is what we call the connection. Like the way your phone has 3G and 4G signals, similarly, your TV and associated devices use either Analog or Digital signals. Usually, analog signals offer lower quality than the newer digital signals.
  • Associated Devices: This is just the collective term given to the devices, which can be connected to your TV through the various ports.
  • Maximum Resolution: It refers to the quality of the image on your TV screen. The higher the number, the better the quality. 1080p offers higher quality than 480i. 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) provides the best quality today. Most service providers, like the Xfinity TV Packages, try to include HD channels in their line-up. HD, UHD and 4K UHD is all levels of high definition quality.

What Are the Different Types of Ports on My TV?

If you take a look around your TV, you will likely find a number of ports. Most will be around the back of your TV, while some can be found around the sides (usually not the top).

Ports Purpose Quality
HDMI Video/audio/computer Best
Component Video Better
S-Video Video Good
Composite Video Good
Optical Digital Audio Better
Coaxial Digital Audio Better
RCA Stereo Audio Good
DVI Computer Better
VGA Computer Good
USB Incidental N/A
Ethernet Internet N/A
Antenna In OTA TV Better

HDMI – High Definition Media Input

What is the HDMI port?

The HDMI port is listed in all 3 categories. Most of your modern associated devices would probably be using this kind of port. You can use this port to connect most DVRs, like the ones provided with Spectrum TV plans. In addition, to your DVR, this port is most commonly used in connecting your PC or laptop with your TV. Other associated devices you can connect to your TV with the HDMI port include modern game consoles, media players, sound systems and streaming devices.

Is HDMI port a good option?

While other types of ports commonly have separate connections for audio and video, HDMI offers a single port for both. Since the signal type is digital, it delivers the highest quality of audio and video.

Video TV Ports

Apart from the HDMI port, there are 3 other kinds of video ports you should know about.

What are Video Component Ports?

Component ports are the red, blue and green ports on your TV. Usually grouped together, they are also referred to as Component Video, Component Analog Video (CAV) and Y/Pb/Pr. They offer a maximum resolution of 1080p with an analog signal.

If you have a previous generation TV, this port is handy in hooking up older gaming consoles like PlayStation 3, and also media players like DVD systems. Most cable packages, like Optimum Cable Packages, offer DVRs, which can also connect with your TV using Component connectors.

What are S-Video Ports?

S-Video ports are usually round and have lots of smaller openings in them. They were primarily used for video input on TVs but are not as common today as they were in the late 90s. S-video offers a maximum resolution of 480i from an Analog signal.

They can be used to connect associated devices like some computers, media players, and previous generation game consoles.

What are Composite Ports?

Composite video ports are also usually circular and with a single opening inside, unlike S-Video ports, which have multiple openings. Typically, color-coded in yellow, it is used for standard definition video. Plenty of equipment still offers composite connection like previous generation DVRs, media players, and game consoles. This analog signal provides a 480i resolution.

Audio TV Ports

There is no point of TV without audio. Since HDMI has already been discussed above, we will not include it here.

Optical Digital Ports – How to use them?

This audio connection uses a digital signal and offers crisp sound quality. Optical digital is a good alternative if your devices do not support HDMI connections. Associated devices for Optical Digital ports are your audio devices like sound bars and A/V receivers.

What are Coaxial Digital ports?

Similar to Optical Digital, Coaxial Digital ports also use a digital signal. The advantage of Coaxial connectors is that the connection cable is much sturdier than Optical connection cable, which can be easily damaged by a sharp bend.

Are RCA Stereo ports still used?

RCA stereo ports usually have twin connectors, color-coded to red and white. This type of port uses an analog signal and be connected with previous generation devices. Associated devices would include DVRs, media players, game consoles, sound bars, and A/V receivers.

Additional Ports

These are ports, which you can use to connect devices like computers as well as direct cable and internet with your TV. These ports are the most common in TVs. There are some ports like Ex-Link ports, which are specific to Samsung TVs and are used by their technicians to update the TV.

What is the use of DVI ports?

DVI or Digital Visual Interface are primarily used for connecting your computer with your TV. They offer up to 1080p resolution and can use both digital and analog signals.

They aren’t as high quality as HDMI but most modern DVIs are better than VGA.

What are the VGA ports?

Video Graphics Array or VGA, are used for connecting your TV with your computer. This type of ports offers 720p resolution over an analog signal. It does not support audio, so you will likely need a separate connection for that.

What is the Antenna in port?

This port uses an analog signal and can provide good audio quality, combined with the video quality of up to 1080p. This port is usually used for connecting with the free Over-the-Air TV (OTA TV). Since OTA TV channels vary based on location, it is best to check which channels would be available in your area.

What are the different uses of the USB port?

You most likely already know of USB ports. They use both analog and digital signals and can be used with a variety of associated devices, like USB flash drives, TV Antennas, streaming devices.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet ports, also known as LAN ports use both digital and analog signals to connect with your internet modem.

Is Ethernet port better than wi-fi?

Using an Ethernet cable is preferable to Wi-Fi since they offer faster connection speeds. These are usually only available in smart TVs.

This blog is a general outline of TV ports and their features. A quick online search for “Cable Providers in My Area” would give you easy access to your service provider’s helpline.

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