Plasma TV Hookup Tips

July 2004
Reviewer: Jack Burden

Elsewhere, I have discussed the importance of using the highest quality connection possible between flat-panel plasma screen displays and video components. (See "Plasma TV Cables & Connections".) To achieve the best-looking picture possible, you also need to keep some things in mind:

(1) Your cables should be as short as possible, allowing 2 feet extra. Whether you are using composite, S-video, or component cables, keep them as short as possible. The same goes for RCA-type composite audio cables. Even high-quality video signals can degrade over long distances, so shorter cable runs will help to maximize your analog signal quality.

Note: If you are using DVI or HDMI cables to send digital signals to your DTV, you can run them as long a you want: Digital signals are composed of ones and zeroes, so there is really no "video" signal to get degraded. Ones are ones and zeroes are zeroes, no matter how you cut it.

(2) Don't try to make a short cable reach. It really is better to buy a slightly long cable than a slightly short one. Also, consider using BNC-type terminals on your composite or component cables to ensure a tight connection. There is nothing worse than a wobbly connection, especially when it jiggles loose during the climax of a movie.

(3) Use the highest-quality video cables you can afford. Aftermarket and step-up quality cables are available from companies like Monster Cable, Straightwire, AudiQuest, and Nordost. Video cables come offer a high Return on Investment: Better quality cables give you substantially enhanced performance for your money. Hooking up a $3000 plasma screen TV using $20 cables is like putting regular gas in a high-performance engine: You won't get the kind of performance you paid for out of either the TV or the sports car using budget cables or gas.

(4) Buy pre-terminated A/V cables.

(5) Arrange excess cable in a figure-eight shape, not in a loop. This will cut down on electromagnetic interference, which is a chief source of static or "noise."

(6) Keep A/V cables away from power cords. Even shielded power cords can cause electromagnetic interference and signal degradation. If you must cross A/V cables over power cords (or vice-versa), keep them at right angles to one another. This will help minimize the possibility of interference.

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