Connect cable tv: How to Hook Up a Smart TV to Cable (Setting Up Your Smart TV)

How to Set Up Cable

How to Set Up Cable |
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October 19, 2022

3 min read

At a glance

Moving your cable TV service to a new home isn’t complicated—especially if you’re continuing service with the same provider. Current customers can usually take their cable box from their old location to their new abode, while new subscribers are sometimes given the option of having a new cable box delivered for self-installation.

Once you’ve switched, or begun, TV service at your new address, you can either hook it up yourself, or have a professional (the fabled “cable guy”) do it. We’ll walk you through the do-it-yourself route.

3 ways to install cable in your new home

These three routes to hook up cable yourself require active cable service, as well as a cable box.

In the olden times—like, the early 2000s—you could simply connect the cable from the wall directly to your TV and get a decent array of basic channels.

Not anymore: Full cable TV service only works with a digital cable box between that wall cable and your TV, even the smartest of smart TVs. We’ll be covering the connection between the cable box and your TV. These instructions could also be applicable to a satellite TV box.

HDMI cable—Best picture quality

Coaxial cable—Quickest setup

S-Video cable or composite-video cable—For older TVs

HDMI cable—Best picture quality

Newer cable boxes come equipped with an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port, a small rectangular slot labeled as such on the back panel. If your cable box doesn’t have one, you should request a new version made within the last 10 years, as cable companies don’t always alert you to new equipment upgrades (especially if they’re free to customers, which they usually are).

An HDMI cable is an all-in-one delivery system for video and audio, and it transmits the highest quality signal for both. You can buy HDMI cables almost anywhere, from electronics stores to big-box home improvement outlets, and the expensive ones aren’t necessarily better than the cheaper ones—it’s up to you how much you want to spend.

Cable-to-HDMI installation

  1. Fasten the cable from the wall to the cable box’s Input, then plug the HDMI cable into the HDMI port on the back panel. 
  2. Plug the other end of the HDMI cable into one of your TV’s back-panel or side-panel HDMI ports (most new TVs have more than one to accommodate multiple devices). It doesn’t matter which HDMI port you use, as they’re all identical.
  1. After the signal is established, you can use your remote to label the cable input for easy on-screen menu distinction between other devices (example: HDMI 1: Cable, HDMI 2: Blu-ray player, HDMI 3: Xbox, etc.).

Coaxial cable—Quickest setup

Like HDMI, a coaxial cable transmits both video and audio, just at slightly lower quality. Any cable box, no matter how old, will have a cable output connection—they look the same, so get a good view of the labels and don’t mix up the input and output or you’ll get no signal.

A coaxial cable is the same kind of cable coming from the cable company to your home, and short-connection household versions are as easy to find as HDMI cables. The most common length is 3’, and pricier ones (with gold-plated connectors, etc.) don’t give you a better picture than budget versions.

Cable-to-cable installation

  1. Connect the cable from the wall to the cable box input, then screw the coaxial cable onto the cable box’s output connector. 
  2. Screw the other end of the cable into the TV’s cable input connector on the back (most current TVs still have them). 
  3. If the TV doesn’t have a cable input, refer back to “Cable-to-HDMI installation” above.

S-Video or composite-video cable—For older TVs

If you have an old-old-old-school analog TV, chances are it will use an S-Video or composite video input. Some cable boxes will accommodate these kinds of connections, but most newer ones will require an adapter between the cable box and the TV.

S-Video cables have 4-pin connectors and deliver a low-grade standard-definition picture—which you likely won’t notice, since a TV with S-Video input will also be standard definition.

Cable-to-S-Video installation

  1. Connect the S-Video cable to the S-Video output on the cable box (or to an adapter).
  2. Plug the other end into the TV’s S-Video input.

Composite video cables are similarly low-grade, but they use RCA mini-plug connectors—yellow for video, red for right stereo audio, and white for left stereo audio. TVs with this type of connection will also be standard definition, and will probably require a connection adapter to work with a modern cable box.

Cable-to-composite video installation

  1. Plug one end of the RCA connectors into their corresponding color-coded inputs on the cable box (or adapter).
  2. Plug the other end of the RCA connectors to the TV.

The picture with this or an S-Video connection will tend to look dark and fuzzy if you’re used to high-definition TV. If your doorbell camera gives you a better viewing experience than your TV, it might be time to upgrade to HD.

Recommended resources

  • How to Choose a Cable Provider
  • Cable vs. Satellite TV
  • How Much Does Cable TV Cost?

Top product picks

  • KabelDirekt HDMI Cable (3 ft.)
  • Monoprice Coaxial Cable (3 ft.)
  • RadioShack S-Video Cable (6 ft.)
  • RCA Audio/Video Cable (3 ft.)
  • S-Video/RCA to HDMI Converter

Written by

Bill Frost

Bill Frost has been a journalist and TV reviewer since the 4:3-aspect-ratio ’90s. His pulse-pounding prose has been featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Coachella Valley Independent, Salt Lake City Weekly, and many other dead-tree publications. In addition to his work, Bill is a senior writer and streaming TV columnist at By night, Bill cranks a Flying V with his band at the bar.

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The Complete Guide to TV Ports: How To Hook Up Your TV

By Rachel Oaks
Edited By Mikayla Rivera

Share | Jun 12, 2023

TV technology moves fast. You might be puzzled by the many different ports on the back of your TV. We know your pain, so we’ve compiled this guide so you’ll know which cables go in which ports—and why. We hope it will help you enjoy your new smart TV’s fancy features a lot faster.

Jump to:

  • In-depth port guide
  • How to connect ports that don’t match
  • How to hook up your DVR to a TV
  • TV ports: best to worst

What TV providers are near me?

Enter your zip code below to find TV providers in your area.

In-depth port guide

Below you can find ports by name and image, learn about signal type and quality, discover which devices are used with each port, and get the answers to tricky questions about the purpose and potential of your TV ports.

TV ports summary

Video TV ports

Audio TV ports

Other TV ports

Port glossary

Here are some phrases you’ll encounter while learning more about different kinds of ports:

  • Signal type: This refers to the way data is sent through the connection—either as a high-quality digital signal or a lower-quality analog signal.
  • Maximum resolution: Relevant to video ports, this is the perceived sharpness and clarity of an image. Large numbers like 1080p are better than smaller numbers like 480i, but 4K Ultra HD is the best.
  • Associated devices: These are devices you may hook up to your TV through the corresponding port.
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Why does HDMI get its own section? Because it’s one of the most useful and most common ports on your TV. The HDMI ports in your TV can be used for video, audio, computers, and even turn your non-smart TV into a smart TV!

Other names: High-definition media input
Signal type: Digital
Maximum resolution: 4K Ultra HD
Associated devices: Modern game consoles, media players, DVRs, sound systems, computers, and streaming devices

See matching cable

What are HDMI ports?

HDMI, or “High-Definition Media Input,” is the go-to port for all your modern devices. HDMI ports in your TV are used for both video and audio. In addition, most computers have HDMI capabilities, so you can use an HDMI cable to hook your PC up to your TV. You can even plug a streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick to turn your old TV into a smart TV.

If you like to plug in one cable and be done, you’ll love how simple it is to set up your TV with HDMI.

Are HDMI ports always the best connection option?

Because HDMI transfers data digitally—without compressing or distorting the information—it delivers the highest-quality picture and sound.

However, some people prefer the familiar sound of analog audio. You can play with how you connect your sound system to find out what you like best.

What is HDMI ARC?

The TV port labeled “HDMI ARC,” or “HDMI Audio Return Channel,” is set up to both send and receive audio data. This port pairs great with a sound system because you can hook all your other devices up to an A/V receiver and use a single cable to connect your receiver to your TV. It’s pretty sleek!

Video TV Ports


Other names: Component video, component analog video (CAV), and Y/Pb/Pr
Signal type: Analog
Maximum resolution: 1080p
Associated devices: DVRs, media players, and previous-generation game consoles

See matching cable

What are component video ports?

The component video ports are the red, blue, and green AV ports on your TV, and before HDMI became popular, they offered the highest video quality.

If you have an older TV that isn’t HDMI compatible, you can use these video ports to hook up your DVR or media player. And even if HDMI is available on your TV, component inputs can be handy for hooking up some previous-generation game consoles like PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and Wii systems.


Other Names: Separate video and Y/C
Signal Type: Analog
Maximum Resolution: 480i
Associated Devices: Computers, previous-generation media players, and previous-generation game consoles

See matching cable

What are S-video ports?

S-video ports (the black circles with a lot of dots) were used primarily in the late 1990s and early 2000s for video input on TVs. They’re not as common as component video ports, but you might see them on your TV or computer. If you’ve got an old Nintendo 64 kicking around, it can connect to this port.

While the S-video port will display a brighter picture than composite video, it’s still not as good as component video or HDMI. Skip this port unless you don’t have better options.


Other Names: Composite video, composite video baseband signal (CVBS), or SD video
Signal Type: Analog
Maximum Resolution: 480i
Associated Devices: DVRs, previous-generation media players and previous-generation game consoles

See matching cable

What are composite video ports?

Composite video (the circular yellow port) is used for standard-definition video. While plenty of equipment still comes with a composite video connection, you should pass on this port for the higher-quality component video or highest-quality HDMI.

Audio TV Ports

Optical digital

Other Names: Digital audio (optical), optical audio, optical digital, digital audio out (optical), and TOSLINK (Toshiba Link)
Signal Type: Digital
Associated Devices: Soundbars and A/V receivers

See matching cable

What are digital audio (optical) ports?

This port, which is usually covered with a small flap, sends digital audio to your sound system. Because it uses a digital format, it’s usually more crisp than RCA Stereo, which uses analog.

Should I use the digital audio (optical) port?

HDMI is better, but if your sound system doesn’t have an HDMI hook up, this port is a great choice. However, optical cables become less effective at a distance of ten meters, and they’re more delicate than the coaxial cables used in other audio ports. Be careful not to bend your optic cable at a sharp angle, or you could damage it permanently.

Coaxial digital

Other Names: Digital audio (coaxial) and coaxial digital audio
Signal Type: Digital
Associated Devices: Soundbars and A/V receivers

See matching cable

What are digital audio (coaxial) ports?

Like the optical digital ports, the coaxial digital port connects to your sound system to send digital audio. The coaxial cable is sturdier than the optical port, but HDMI will still be the highest-quality option.

RCA stereo

Other Names: RCA stereo audio, RCA audio, and analog audio
Signal Type: Analog
Associated Devices: DVRs, previous-generation media players, previous-generation game consoles, soundbars, and A/V receivers

See matching cable

What are RCS stereo audio ports?

These twin red and white ports are either inputs or outputs for transmitting analog audio. Sometimes you will see them by themselves labeled as “out” to output audio. If they’re for inputting audio, you’ll usually find them next to component or composite video ports.

Should I use the RCA stereo audio ports?

Use RCA stereo audio if you don’t have a more advanced digital connection (HDMI, optical, or coaxial) or if you just like the sound of analog. Connectors for this port are often paired with composite and component video, so they’re a handy go-to if you’re using those video connectors.

Computer Ports

Other Names: Digital visual interface, DVI-A, DVI-D single link, DVI-D dual link, DVI-I single link, and DVI-I dual link
Signal Type: Digital/analog
Maximum Resolution: 1080p
Associated Devices: Computers

See matching cable

What are DVI ports?

DVI ports are primarily for connecting your computer to your TV. They aren’t as high quality as HDMI, but most modern DVI are better than VGA. Which DVI cable you can use with the port depends on the number and arrangement of the pin holes in the port.

Why are there so many different types of DVI?

DVI has changed dramatically with evolving technology. The old DVI-A is an analog port no better than VGA. But DVI-D is digital, and DVI-I is compatible with both digital devices and older analog devices.

DVI-D and DVI-I are further broken down by single-link and dual-link capabilities. Dual-link connections have twice as much power, leading to an increase in speed and signal quality.

Which DVI connector is best?

Both DVI-D and DVI-I work fine. Just make sure the pin holes in your port will support the cable type you’ve chosen.

Can DVI cables carry audio too?

DVI-I-to-HDMI or DVI-D-to-HDMI cables can carry audio, but it depends on whether or not the video card inside your computer supports this transfer. Hook in the DVI end into your computer and the HDMI cable into your TV to see if your video card port is compatible with audio. If not, you’ll need a separate audio connection.

Other Names: Video graphics array and PC in
Signal Type: Analog
Maximum Resolution: 720p
Associated Devices: Computers

See matching cable

What are VGA ports?

If you want to connect your computer to your TV and you don’t have HDMI or DVI capabilities, you can go with VGA. However, the quality won’t be as good as with those other ports, and VGA doesn’t support audio, so you’ll need a separate audio connection.

Incidental Ports

Antenna in

Other Names: RN in, cable in, and coaxial cable connection
Signal Type: Analog
Maximum Resolution: 1080p
Associated Devices: Over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna

See OTA antenna

What is the antenna-in port?

This port provides both video and audio input from an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. You’re probably familiar with this port from the early days of TV when it was a common type of TV input used for a wide range of devices. It’s not used for much anymore, since HDMI does a much better job, but it’s a definite plus and a TV input option if you want free OTA channels.

Learn More About OTA TV

Other Names: Universal serial bus
Signal Type: Digital/analog
Associated Devices: USB flash drive, TV antenna, and streaming device

See matching cable

What are USB ports for on a TV?

USB ports on a TV serve a variety of functions, including as an input type for USB flash drives and powering a TV antenna or streaming device. You could even use it to charge your smartphone if you wanted.


Other Names: LAN
Signal Type: Digital/analog
Associated Devices: Internet modem

See matching cable

What are Ethernet ports?

Ethernet connections help provide faster internet speeds than Wi-Fi can. If you have a smart TV, you’ve probably seen this port, which looks like a normal phone-line port.

Should I use the Ethernet port instead of Wi-Fi?

If the shows you’re streaming spend a lot of time buffering, it may be time to switch to using the Ethernet port. It’s less convenient, since you have to run a cable from your internet modem to the TV, but it can noticeably improve your streaming speed.


Associated Devices: Samsung TV service updates and wall mounts

What are Ex-Link ports?

The Ex-Link is a bit of an oddball port found on some Samsung TVs. Its primary function is to help Samsung technicians update your TV, but you shouldn’t attempt to do that yourself. Additionally, about ten years back, Samsung had a motorized TV mount that you could control by plugging it into the Ex-Link port, but the mount doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

But a motorized TV mount sounds really cool, and I want one!

You’re right, it does sound really cool. It’s not from Samsung, but you can pick up the VIVO motorized TV mount on Amazon. Don’t worry—you don’t need an Ex-Link or any other special port to use it.

How to connect ports that don’t match

Hooking up devices gets a little trickier if your TV doesn’t have all the right ports. New TVs might not have old ports, and old TVs might not have new ports like HDMI.

Luckily, there are solutions to get all your devices hooked up. Keep in mind, though, that converted audio and video won’t have the highest quality. If it’s time for you to upgrade your TV, check out our “TV Buying Guide”.

Input vs. output

Pay attention to the input and output. Converters will work only with matching input/output layout, so know which way the data is going before purchasing a converter.

For the most part, media players, DVRs, game consoles, and computers output audio and video to a TV input. That means you’ll attach a cable to the output port on the device and connect that to the input port on the TV or converter device. However, TVs output audio to soundbars’ inputs.

Converters for Old Output to New Input

The following are good for connecting most old devices to a new TV.

Component to HDMI

Volantech Component YPbPr RGB to HDMI 4K Converter

View on Amazon

S-Video/Composite to HDMI

CoolDigital RCA AV/S-Video to HDMI Converter

View on Amazon

Converters for New Output to Old Input

The following are good for connecting most new devices to an old TV.

HDMI to Component

Portta HDMI to Component Video Converter

View on Amazon

HDMI to S-Video/Composite

Tendak HDMI to S-Video/Composite Converter

View on Amazon

How to hook up your DVR to a TV

Most modern DVRs have HDMI outputs, so they’re fairly simple to hook up to a new TV. However, installing a DVR or cable box may still require the help of an expert technician if your home needs new wiring or a satellite dish. Refer to the chart below for TV providers’ DVR outputs and installation costs.

Swipe Left to See All →

TV provider DVR Outputs Installation costs Details
Astound Broadband TiVo T6
  • HDMI
  • Component video
  • Composite video
  • Digital audio (optical)
Installation fee: $79.95
Activation fee: $9.99
View Astound plans
Buckeye Broadband Varies Varies Activation fee: $50.00 View Buckeye plans
Cox Contour Record 6
  • HDMI
  • Component video
  • Composite video
  • Digital audio (optical)
Installation fee: varies by package and region View Cox plans
DIRECTV Genie (HR-44)
  • HDMI
  • Component video
  • Composite video
  • Digital audio (optical)
  • Digital audio (coaxial)
Activation fee: $19. 95 View DIRECTV plans
DISH Hopper 3
  • HDMI
  • Component video
  • Composite video
  • Digital audio (optical)
Installation fee: included in price View DISH plans
Optimum Varies Varies Installation fee: $99.00–$149.99 View Optimum plans
Spectrum Varies Varies Professional installation: $59.99
Self installation: $24.99
View Spectrum plans
Xfinity X1
  • HDMI
  • Component video
  • Composite video
  • Digital audio (optical)
Professional installation: $89.99
Self installation: up to $39.99
View Xfinity plans
Xtream Powered by Mediacom Varies Varies Installation fee: $109.99 View Xtream plans

If you’re interested to learn more about the providers listed above, enter your zip code below to see which are available in your area:

Final take

The most important port on your new TV will be the HDMI port, which supports high-quality audio and video. Without this vital connection, you won’t be able to connect a streaming device to your TV.

While you can use converters to solve this problem, your picture and sound won’t be as crisp as they could be with an HDMI port. We recommend you upgrade your TV to a new smart TV—they’re not as pricey as you’d think!


Our experts put dozens of hours into researching various TV ports so that you can enjoy all of your new smart TV’s capabilities as soon as you unbox it. For more information on our process, read our “How We Rank” page.

Related articles

  • How to Connect a TV to Wi-Fi
  • How to Connect Your iPhone to Your TV
  • What Do the Lights on Your Modem/Router Mean?

About the Author
Rachel Oaks

Rachel Oaks has written hundreds of helpful articles in their five years at You want all the deets on internet providers, download speeds, and affordable internet? They’re your new favorite writer. Rachel earned their Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Utah University. You can find more of Rachel’s delightful insights on Yahoo! Finance,, and BestCompany.

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Digital television in Chelyabinsk. Favorable tariffs from Intersvyaz

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What do you need to watch TV channels?

To watch digital SD channels, you need a TV or plasma panel with built-in DVB-C digital tuner and MPEG-4 decoder; To watch digital HD channels – a plasma, LCD or LED TV with built-in DVB-C digital tuner and MPEG-4 decoder. These devices include most commercially available flat-panel TVs 81 cm (32 inches) or larger and labeled “Full HD”, “HD Ready”, or “1080p”. If your TV does not support HD channels, you can purchase a set-top box.

To view digital packages accessed by subscription, it is necessary to conclude an additional agreement that gives the right to receive an access card. Our specialists will arrive with a pre-filled contract, bring all the necessary equipment, connect it and show how to use it. You can leave a request by calling 8-800-2000-747.

Will there be an additional charge for the second (and subsequent) TVs?

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Bought a second TV, how to connect it to cable TV?

We do not limit subscribers in any way – you can connect any number of TVs. It will not affect the subscription fee in any way.

To split the signal into several devices, you need additional equipment – a divider.

When connecting three or more TVs, it will be necessary to purchase a special device – a signal amplifier.

You can do it yourself, but we recommend that you turn to professionals for one simple reason – the quality of the picture on the TV screen directly depends on how the cabling is done.

Specialists of “Intersvyaz-Service” will perform all the necessary work efficiently and with a guarantee.

Lost CATV signal. What to do?

If the cable TV signal fails, do the following:

1. Check that the cable is firmly inserted into the TV. Carefully remove it from the connector and plug it back in.

2. If there are several TVs at home, check the signal on all of them. If only one of several is missing, look for a malfunction in the apartment.

3. Check if the channel broadcasters have any scheduled work here:

If this did not help and there are no planned works, then go to the chat of the Intersvyaz mobile application. Perhaps there is a malfunction on the line at the moment and our chatbot will report it. If everything is in order on the line, please contact the technical support service, we are always happy to help.

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The promotional tariff is valid for 3 months from the date of connection. From the 4th month, payment for TV, Internet and TV + Internet – according to the current tariff plan.

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To connect to the networks of the cable operator “LADA-MEDIA” you need to check the availability of technical feasibility in the “Personal tariff” section or call:

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In case of a positive answer, you can apply directly on our website, by the above phone numbers or at the LADA-MEDIA subscriber department.

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If the contract is concluded with a person who is not the owner of the apartment, the rental contract must be submitted.

Do you want to apply for an Internet connection? Perfect solution!

Connect using promo code “Spring” :

pay for 1 month, use 3!

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In case of termination or suspension of the contract earlier than after 12 months from the date of conclusion of the contract, the subscriber undertakes to reimburse the Organization for the difference between the promotional tariff.


Dear subscribers! It is not possible to connect the Internet service separately from the television service at all addresses of the LADA-MEDIA cable network. The technical possibility of connecting to the Internet (separately from the television service) at your address can be checked in section “Personal tariff” .