Inputs, Outputs, and a CableCARD slot

Inputs:  The more the better, but it’s important to have a variety.  3 HDMI inputs in the rear with one on the side should be a minimum.  Make sure you have at least one component video input and a composite video input.  PC inputs are a plus especially if you have media on  your PC that you want to show or if you want to use it to play video games from your PC.  The side inputs are very handy for connecting temporary devices like video cameras or karaoke machines.

Outputs:  The only output you might need is a digital audio out.  If you use your TV to stream media and you have a surround sound system, you will need to output the audio to your receiver.  All new HDTVs have a digital tuner built-in.  If you connect a compatible antennae to your TV, you can get free digital and HD channels over-the-air.  Once again, you will need to get the audio to your receiver through the digital audio out.  If you need a long (over 20′) digital audio cable, you should try to get a TV with a digital coaxial out instead of an optical audio out.

CableCARD slot:   A CableCARD is a card that you can get from your cable provider (usually about $2-$4 per month rental fee) that allows you to use your TV tuner to watch digital and HD programming.  It could save you over $100 per year since you won’t have to rent the HD box at $15 per month.  The only downside is that you can’t get Pay-Per-View or On-Demand movies with the current cards.  Hopefully, they will come out with a multi-stream CableCARD that will give you access to those features, but it’s not out yet.

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