What kind of cable?
When the new love of your life, a massive 60-inch Smart TV, arrived ready to plug in and enjoy, what cables did the installer or retailer suggest to connect your gaming console, Blu-ray player, PVR or Foxtel box? Did they try to bamboozle you by throwing around specs like “uncompressed 1080p/12Hz HD video with 12-bit Deep Colour” and “eight channels of 192/24 digital audio for the ultimate 7.1 surround sound, which I can deliver for $300?” Or did they do the right thing and say, “you need a couple of HDMI cables for your new gear - I’ve got some in the car you can have for about $20.”?
Don’t get sucked into the cable rort
, no-one who knows what they're talking about will be impressed with the $500 monster cable hidden behind your TV.
Apple has a digital AV adapter for a reasonable (for Apple) price of $45. This allows you to play anything that shows on your iPad or iPhone (audio and video) on your TV using a HDMI connection. Even though the latest iPhones and iPads support full HD (1080p) you’ll only get video at up to 720p and images at 1080p. If you decide to buy the connector from a non-Apple store, make sure the connection can accommodate both the HDMI cable to connect to the TV and the 30-pin pass-through connector to charge your Apple device while it is operating.
Maximise video and audio quality
Cables and HD quality
Don’t expect those amazingly cheap DVDs you may have purchased while overseas to provide fantastic quality video and audio. While the upscaling feature on a TV or media player can help improve the situation, the maxim of "garbage in, garbage out" applies to all video and audio. So if you enjoy watching a movie at its best-possible quality, consider original Blu-ray titles.
However, choosing the best possible cable type will also give you the best chance at getting true HD-quality video on your TV. If your TV doesn’t support HDMI, check to see if you can use component video instead of composite (yellow cable) or S-video (cable with five small pins). The results could still give you HD-quality video, with up to 1080i resolution achievable.
Using your existing stereo system with your TV
If you don’t have a home theatre system and your TV is centrally located in your home or entertainment room, you may want to use your existing mini hi-fi to improve the sound. Simply connect inexpensive stereo cables (lengths of up to 10 metres should cost about $50) from your TV audio-out connection to the audio input on your stereo (often shown as the Auxiliary or AUX connection) and you'll enjoy much better audio than you will get from your TV, as well as having one less remote to deal with.
Sounding out soundbars
While we weren’t impressed with the audio quality of the latest sub-$800 “cinema in a box” home theatre systems
, we were pleasantly surprised at the sound to be gained with most of the soundbars
we tested to improve the overall TV experience. If your TV is at the centre of your home entertainment area, you may find the position of the soundbar to be ideal for listening to music as well, particularly if you want to use your Blu-ray or DVD player to enjoy your audio CD collection.