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1 October 2020

TV connections wizard

From HDMI to DLNA - we decode the jargon and show you how to connect up all your devices to your TV.
Martin Pratt

Confused over connections? Struggling with sockets? In this guide we'll explain the best ways to connect up your television, and get the best out of your home entertainment.

We've provided individual guides to all the boxes, gadgets and devices most people may own, but if you just want to know what a TV connector does, head to our TV connections glossary further down the page.

TV connections glossary
Name of the connection What it does What it looks like
Component These video cables are usually combined with the red and white audio cables to provide video and sound. You'll find these on older devices as newer ones favour HDMI.    
Digital audio (coaxial and optical) There are two types of digital connections for surround sound - coaxial (copper wire) and optical (fibre optic), also known as TOSLINK. Both connections can carry stereo signals and 5.1 surround sound signal, but optical is the better option if you can use it.   
DLNA This is an industry-wide standard for sharing digital media - such as photos, videos and music - between computers, mobile phones, TVs and other devices in your home.    
DVI port A Digital Visual Interface connection is one way of hooking up your computer to your TV. It's commonly found on desktops rather than laptops and you may have to buy a HDMI to DVI cable first. If that's the case you'll need to connect a separate audio cable from your TV to your computer.    
Ethernet port If your TV doesn't have wi-fi capability, this port allows you to use an Ethernet cable to link a smart TV to your router.    
HDMI This high definition video and audio input is your best bet for connecting any HD equipment, such as Sky boxes and blu-ray players, because it sends video and audio signals. When buying HDMI cables, don't be tempted to spend lots of money - a £5 cable will do the job just as well as a £50 one.    
HDMI ARC This special Audio Return Channel HDMI socket is useful for connecting compatible home cinema systems and sound bars as it sends video and audio signals both ways. It makes setting up your TV audio system much easier, plus you can control both your TV and sound bar/home cinema from the same remote.    
HDMI MHL Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) is a special wired connection for hooking up a compatible smartphone or tablet to your TV.    
Headphone jack Use this to connect your headphones. Bear in mind that headphone volume and TV volume are often adjusted separately.    
Mini-HDMI This smaller HDMI port can be used to connect laptops to your TV. If your TV doesn't have mini-HDMI then you can use a mini-HDMI to full-size HDMI cable.    
Near Field Communication If you have an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, you can connect with a compatible TV by 'tapping' a special sticker, and then share content between them.    
RF input An aerial socket that allows the broadcast signal to be received by the TV's tuner.    
Satellite antenna socket Use this to connect a Sky or Freesat set-top box.    
Scart Rarely found on modern TVs, scarts allow you to connect older standard-definition equipment like DVD players. Scarts that support the high-standard RGB signal give the best possible picture quality.    
USB ports These ports are becoming more common, particularly as modern TV let you watch whatever's stored on them and record TV onto them. TVs tend to come with between two and three USB inputs.    
Wi-Fi Direct This wireless technology allows you to 'mirror' what's on your phone, tablet or computer on your TV by connecting to the same wi-fi network. It is also referred to as Miracast on some TVs.    

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