TV Tips

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What options are there for recording a TV show at home?

Options for Recording your Favorite TV Show

Remember when the VCR was the only way to record television? Well, thankfully, those days are behind us and higher quality options have come onto the market. If you like recording your favorite TV show and want to know some ways that you may do it differently than you are now, here are a few options that you may want to look into.

  • DVR – DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. You have probably heard of it as TiVo. TiVo has become like ‘Kleenex' in that almost all DVR units are referred to as TiVo's. However, TiVo is just a name brand and they are not the only DVR on the block. Check with a TV provider to see if they have a DVR unit that you can purchase or lease along with your monthly service.
  • DVD Recorder – Most homes now have DVD players to watch their favorite movies with. A few years ago, you could get a DVD recorder, but you would pay quite a bit for the technology. Now, the technology has been fine tuned for mass production and a DVD recorder can be purchased for as little as a high quality DVD player. Burnable DVD's are also now very inexpensive and you can buy re-recordable ones so that you can get more life out of one disc.
  • VCR – Some options never change, and the VCR is still as reliable as any other option. With the improvements that have been made to the tapes on the market, recording a TV show with a VCR will now give you better quality over multiple recordings than in the past.

   
What are the different connection options for my digital cable TV converter unit?

Cable/Satellite TV – Connection Options

The back of a cable/satellite TV box can look like a nightmare to those unfamiliar with video connections. Don't fret, here we will go over what each connection means and how you should decide which to use. There are four common video connection options; coaxial, composite, s-video, and component. Depending on the cable/satellite TV service and your TV, DVI or HDMI connections may also be available.

Coaxial Cable – Coaxial cable is the ‘classic' single-connection way that you connect your television to the wall jack. These are the threaded cables that have been used for as long as there has been cable TV. The coaxial cable will transmit video as well as audio; however, the quality of both will suffer from this connection.

Composite – Composite cable is the next rung of the video connection ladder. The picture will be better then with a coaxial connection but not as good as s-video. One nice feature of composite is the cable supports both video and audio. Composite cable is the most common cable found inside the box of a new electronic purchase. The cable's connectors are red, white, and yellow (the red and white handle audio, while the yellow supports video).

S-Video – This type of connection transmits a video signal. When it comes to the video quality, s-video is a definite improvement over coaxial cable TV connections. You will see a far more precise picture with far sharper effects. Most televisions bought in the last five years will have an s-video outlet, but check just to be sure. When using an s-video cable you'll need a separate cable for you audio connection. Usually composite audio cables are used, these cables' connectors are typically red and white.

Component Video – For the next best video connection with cable/satellite TV and especially HDTV, you will want to use component video connections. These are actually made up of three separate connectors, usually labeled as red, green, and blue. These cables are more expensive, but the quality for both HDTV and DVD playback is the best available. Component cables only transmit video signals; so another cable is needed for audio. Once again the most common solution is the red and white composite audio cables mentioned above.

DVI & HDMI – These two connection options are the latest and greatest in the world of home theater, typically they are only available with satellite TV. DVI (Digital Video Interface) is a technology borrowed from the world of computers. It delivers a superior picture to even component cables, especially with HDTV, and also only transmits a video signal. HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) is a rare combination of cutting-edge technology and simplicity. It transmits top-notch video, same quality as DVI, and movie theater quality sound; all in one cable. DVI and HDMI are both relatively new technologies, so before you buy make sure your television has the inputs needed.

Once you've decided on which cables to use, make sure to buy high-quality cables made by a high-quality manufacturer. Monster Cables are some of the best and you won't be disappointed with any of their products.

   
What are some things to look for when I am buying a new TV?

Buying a New TV – Things to Look For

When you are deciding what TV to buy these days, the options are almost shocking. Long gone are the days where size was the only thing that distinguished one TV from another. Do you get a tube or a flat? Do you get a projection or a plasma? All of these decisions are greatly assisted by taking advantage of the knowledge that you can find here on the Internet.

Here are just a few things to look out for when you are buying your new TV.

Warranty. Let's just get this out of the way first. Buying a television these days can be a sizable investment. Secure your investment by getting a TV that comes with a rock solid warranty. Many of the new technologies such as LCD and plasma can have problems over short times. Be sure that you can get yours repaired at no cost with a good warranty.

HDTV. When you are buying a TV, keep in mind that all stations must broadcast in High Definition in the coming years. With this in mind, you should look for a set that is either HDTV ready or already has the necessary HD decoder built in. If you have digital cable, chances are that you already have a TV that will work with HD. However, double check when you buy your next one so that you don't need to upgrade again too soon.

Aspect Ratio. New TVs come in all shapes as well as sizes. If you are a fan of watching DVDs or of High definition TV, be sure that you get a widescreen aspect ratio TV to account for the widescreen viewing. Getting this type of set will keep you from seeing those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when watching a DVD or HD signal.

   
How do I go about subscribing to digital TV?

Subscribing to Digital TV in your Home

If you are using standard cable in your home and are looking to upgrade to digital TV, the process is simple. First, you need to find a provider of digital TV. Because it runs on a different type of line, digital TV is not available in all areas from cable companies, however DIRECTV offers 100% digital programming to the lower 48 states. However, chances are that if you are online reading this article, you have available digital TV in your area.

Once you have found a provider, contact them and ask for their prices. Please include information that reflects satellite TV perspective. Lastly, you will want to select the programming that you wish to receive. There are many more channels available on digital TV than on standard cable, so take the time to look through and find what interests you.

Most digital TV providers offer tiers of programming including sports channels, movie channels, and education channels. These are often available at discount rates, so see what your provider can offer for these specials. That's about all. Once you sign up you should be able to bring your converter box home and plug it in.

Use component video cables to get the best picture from your digital TV reception. Standard coaxial cable will not give you the increased quality that you should get from digital cable.

   
Can I legally download my favorite TV show?

Downloading Your Favorite TV Show – Now A Reality for Some

You can hardly watch an hour of TV, read a magazine, or go on the Internet anymore without seeing at least some form of advertising for the iPod media players from Apple. Now, the video iPod is presenting new options to TV lovers everywhere. In conjunction with several TV studios, Apple and the video iPod now allow people to download and save their favorite TV show each week for a small fee. This news is still developing as the technology is being ironed out.

However, ABC is now offering downloads of new episodes of Lost for only 99 cents a piece. These shows can be downloaded from iTunes or ABC and carried with you for that long plane flight or boring day at work (don't worry, we won't tell your boss). If you have a video iPod or other means to download video files, see if your favorite TV show is available for download. You never know when you may miss an episode. If you do, be sure to see if there is a service available for you to safely, legally, download your TV show.

If it isn't available now, you can bet it soon will be as many in the industry believe that these types of services are the future of television programming.

   
Which TV shows should I add to my regular viewing schedule?

New Shows that are Must See TV

For a few years, the boom of ‘reality' TV seemed to squelch out any good, new shows. Today, people have finally caught on to the lack of reality in ‘reality' TV and the networks have responded with TV shows that are edge-of-your-seat winners. Some of these are not too new, but are worth mentioning here because I meet people everyday who has yet to watch them. Here are three of my favorites.

  • Lost – This is by far top of the list. In its second season right now, Lost came on with a storm and won the Emmy award for best Drama… in its first season on the air! The second season has not let off and is currently seeing some of the highest TV ratings any show has seen in years. Follow the survivors of the crash each week as they do whatever they can to survive. This show airs on ABC with new episodes on Wednesday nights.
  • The Shield – Now, the Shield has actually already had 3 seasons, which hardly makes it new. However, airing on FX has kept this TV show from catching on as much as it should. Possibly the most realistic inner-city police show ever, the Shield follows anti-hero Vic Mackey through trying to manage his family and his squad all at one time. If you have not watched the Shield, the new season begins soon and you should pick it up on your TV schedule.
  • Surface – Our last example is a truly new show. Just in its first season now, this sci-thriller from NBC follows different people chasing the same target – a species of aquatic life that has apparently come back after millennia of dormancy. With good character development and exceptional special effects (for TV) this show keeps you wanting more after each new episode on Monday nights.

   
Can I find local TV listing information online?

Using the Web to find Your Local TV Listing

For people who are used to the Internet for their information, finding what they are looking for is easy. Others who aren't so savvy need the help of sites like this to point them in the right direction. If you are one of those people and are wondering how you can find out your local TV listing information on the Web, here are a few places to look.

First, there is Yahoo TV. This service from Yahoo is tied in to almost every market of television stations across the country. You can find national and local TV listing information using their zip code search. Full details about episodes and casts are also available which makes Yahoo TV more than a TV listing source.

Next, you can go to the same place you have been going for years – the TV Guide. The TV guide has their own website where you can access local TV listing information just like in the weekly magazine. The site is easy to use and will give you what you are looking for every time.

Lastly, you can go directly to your cable provider. Most cable providers have online TV listing information for their subscribers. If you are not sure what the website is for your provider, call the 800 number that is on your monthly bill and you will find your answer from a customer service representative or even from the automated message that greets you.

There are plenty of other places where you can find TV listing information. Use the major search engines if you don't like what any of those above have to offer.

   
What is one of the biggest benefits of digital TV?

The Guide – The Best Thing about Digital TV

The benefits of digital TV are too many to list. Also, different providers offer different perks. However, there is one standard that all digital TV providers meet and that is the ability to use the Guide to search for upcoming programming. Subscribers to digital TV don't need me to tell them how it works. But for those that have never used it, here is a breakdown of how this Guide makes TV more convenient.

With the Guide, you can search for programming up to a week in the future. This is all local and national programming, so you can count on it being accurate 99% of the time. Now, searching sounds good, but when you look at it even closer it is more than good, it's awesome. You can search each date by title, channel, or even theme. If you heard about a show that you couldn't quite remember the name of, the Guide will get you the answer quickly.

If you forget what day your favorite show comes on, you can use the Guide to double check whether it is 3 days away or 6. Digital TV is definitely the future of television and we are living in that future.

   
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Jolyn Wells-Moran