Internal and External Tuners for Flat Screen Televisions

Internal TV Tuners and External TV Tuners

When buying a new flat screen LCD or Plasma television, many consumers assume that the tuning technology used to receive television broadcasts is already built into the television circuitry. It is important to understand that this is not always the case – and you cannot always watch television after simply plugging the in the cable from the wall. In fact, a device known as a tuner is used to pick up television signals. To watch any kind of television signal, you must have some form of tuner connected to the television. These can be either internal tuners – i.e. already built into the television, or external tuners, for example, HDTV receivers, cable or satellite boxes or VCRs.

This Bamboo AV article will explain the two types of television tuners on the market. External tuners can be connected to the TV in various ways, which will have an effect on the quality of the image displayed. These various methods of cabling choices will also be discussed to ensure that you are able to watch a great quality picture signal on your TV set.

Types of Television Tuners

TV tuners come in two types, either internal tuners built inside the casing of the television, or external tuners that take the form of a separate cable box. Previously, in the era of large Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions, nearly every television shipped with an internal tuner, so the coming in from an external aerial could simply be plugged into the TV which would then display a broadcasted signal. This is a trend that is slowly dying. Admittedly, some new High Definition television sets are what is known as “digital cable ready”, meaning that they can receive cable television channels without the need for an external box. However, it is now more common for LCD and Plasma televisions to be shipped without a tuner already built in. This is because nowadays there is a large number of different television providers and so by not becoming pre-installed with an internal tuner the customer has more freedom to choose a tuner that is better suited to their needs.

Internal TV Tuners

Although lacking in certain features, internal tuners are a lot cheaper and more convenient for consumers as means that the television signal can be broadcasted directly from the cable in the wall as soon as the television is installed, since there is no need to buy extra peripherals.

External TV Tuners

If your LCD or Plasma television does not come pre installed with a tuner (which is now the industry standard) it is necessary to have an external device, most commonly a cable box, to watch television channels.

Connecting an external TV tuner

There are numerous different types of external tuners available such as VCRs, cable or satellite boxes, and HD TV receivers. When connecting an external tuner to a television there are and equally numerous amount of different cabling options available, each offering different degrees of quality. The cable you can use is entirely dependent upon the cable inputs that both your television and your external tuner will accept.

The options consist of the following:

Composite cables:

Composite cabling is the most rudimentary set up for TV tuner. It uses a three coloured connector, one red and one white for right and left audio channels, and a yellow connector for the picture signal. Composite cabling is an analog cabling system and thus cannot receive high definition broadcasts.

S-video cables:

S-video cabling is very similar to composite except instead of a yellow connector for the video signals, a circular s-video connector formed of tiny pins is used to generate a slightly sharper analog picture.

Component cables:

Component cables are able to display high definition TV images, but only if the television channel is broadcasting in that format. These cables use five connectors; red, blue, and green for the video signal and red and white for audio.

DVI cables:

The Digital Video Interface (DVI) cable format is similar to the connections computers use to connect to computer monitors. It is simply a single plug cable that is screwed in place in the back of the device. While DVI cabling does support High Definition signals, it is important to remember that it does not carry audio signals, meaning that you have to use a separate red and white composite cable to transfer the audio data. Consequently, only rarely do external tuners support DVI connections as they are not as convenient as HDMI (discussed below).

HDMI cables:

This is the cable you should use if you want to receive the best-looking picture on your LCD or Plasma TV. High Definition Multimedia Interface is a one-connection cable that transmits both digital audio and video data to the television, greatly reducing the number of cables that trail behind the TV while producing the best quality HD TV image.

We hope that this Bamboo AV Advice article has been useful to you!

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