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HDTV Installation

The first thing you should know when you purchase an HDTV system is that, unless you are extremely technically gifted, you will probably need a professional to help you with the installation of this system. However, there are a few things that homeowners can do in order to prepare themselves to receive HDTV.

Getting Started
The first step is to purchase the necessary HDTV equipment. The old, square television that you bought in 1989 is just not going to cut it when it comes to HDTV. This advanced form of technology requires advanced equipment. So, in order to receive high-definition television, you will need either an HDTV integrated television set (which has a built in receiver) or an HDTV monitor along with an outboard HD receiver. Depending on which method you decide to use to receive HDTV, you may also need to purchase an HD satellite dish or HD antenna.

If you decide to buy an HD monitor with a separate receiver, you will need to hook the two up once you get home. The easiest way to connect these two elements is with component-video cables. The cables should be attached to jacks in the receiver box and then plugged into the appropriate jacks in the monitor.

When any HD equipment is installed, it's essential that all hardware used is HD compatible. This means that installation hardware, like cables, splitters and signal amplifiers, should be able to handle a bandwidth of at least 110 megahertz so that the HD signal is never compromised.

After the receiver and monitor are connected together, it will be necessary to set the receiver so that it complies with the monitor's display format. Most monitors are designed for either 720p or 1080i output, so the receiver will need to be set to match the monitor's resolution. All receivers differ slightly, but usually moving a switch or selecting the resolution from an onscreen menu can address this detail.

Connecting to HDTV
Once the equipment is purchased and hooked up, it will be time to establish a method by which to receive HDTV. There are a number of ways you can get HDTV including:

  • HD satellite systems
  • Over the air HDTV
  • HDTV from local cable companies

Choosing One
There are perks involved with each method of receiving HDTV. Satellite systems offer lots of selection and are available to anyone, but they are often costly. Over the air HDTV is usually quite cheap because there is no need to pay a cable or satellite provider for services. But depending on the area you live in, there may be very few channels available. Additionly, over the air HDTV will require that you have an antenna installed either inside or outside your home, which can be a hassle.

HDTV from local cable companies can be a good choice because the connection is usually fairly easy to establish and there are many channels available. But this service is not yet offered in some areas.

HDTV and Satellite
If you decide that an HD satellite connection is best for your home, a satellite professional will have to pay you a visit to configure and activate your receiver. The satellite dish that you will need to purchase will usually be between 18 and 20 inches in diameter. But, if you decide that you would also like to have Direct TV installed, you will also need to invest in a larger elliptical dish. If you already have a satellite dish that is capable of receiving HD signals, you will likely need to invest in a new HD receiver so that those signals will be appropriately translated.

HDTV and Antennas
If you can't afford satellite and are instead opting to install an antenna, you will first need to figure out how far away your home is from the local broadcast towers that you are attempting to receive signals from. Antennas come in various sizes and the size that is necessary will depend on your home and the location of the broadcast tower.

Apartments that are in tall buildings can usually make due with small indoor antennas. These sorts of antennas can typically be installed without too much fuss by the homeowner. But for a bigger home, a large rooftop antenna might be necessary. In this case, a professional should be called in to handle the installation.

HDTV and Cable
HDTV cable service also usually needs to be installed by a professional. As with HD satellite, HD cable requires that a television's receiver be properly configured and activated. The installation of HDTV cable usually either involves the addition of a cable box or a specially designed CableCARD.

Cable boxes are usually quite simple to install. When they are activated, they can often offer special features, like the ability to pause and record the TV programs that you watch via a built-in hard-drive.

CableCARDs are even easier to install than cable boxes. These convenient devices are manufactured for HDTV integrated sets and are offered by some cable providers. The installation simply requires the card to be inserted into a specified slot in the HDTV set.

Enjoying the View
After the HD equipment is installed and the signal is established, your TV will need to be set up using on-screen menus. Each HDTV will have different set-up methods and options. Therefore it is important to consult the owner's manual to investigate the features that your HDTV offers.

Part of the set-up is calibrating the sound so that it is as crisp as it can be and adjusting the picture settings so that the high-definition images look their best.

Once you have completed the installation and chosen the best location for your new HDTV system, you will be ready to sit back and revel in the magic of high-definition.

Hammer Have a question about installing HDTV? Visit our Satellite forum to get answers from other DIY-ers