In this article, we’d like to tell you about the many ports and slots on the back of your TV. These ports consist of inputs and outputs, and they’re used to connect devices and transfer sound, video, and data.
Where can I find an overview of the inputs and outputs of my TV?
There are three easy ways to find out the inputs/outputs / ports your TV (of interest).
- The first one is to have a look at the markings on the back of your TV. Every port should include a minimal amount of information, usually printed on a sticker. If you're unsure what the ports actually do, we'll shortly discuss this further down the article.
- A second option is to consult the TV reference guide or startup guide. You can find them on the product page of a TV on this support website. You can reach that page by typing the TV product name in the search bar.
The reference guide or startup guide includes a graphic representation of your product’s TV ports (check out the example below). The graphic also includes a visual representation of the matching cables and potential devices you can connect.
- Alternatively, you can check the specifications above the search bar on the same TV product page. All the ports are listed under the connectivity tab.
A simple guide to TV inputs, outputs and ports
The back of the TV can seem a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of ports and openings that might be confusing. But with some background knowledge, it will make much more sense. Let’s dive in!
The most important ports are the HDMI ports. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, but you don’t need to memorise that. If you want to remember one thing, it's that most modern electronic devices that can connect with your TV will do so via an HDMI cable. The reason why HDMI is so popular is that HDMI cables can transfer both video and sound at great speed. That's why most, if not all, set-top boxes, game consoles and similar devices are connected with one convenient HDMI cable to the HDMI port of your TV. When using HDMI cables, also check if they're certified, especially if you're using more advanced functions such as eARC, for which you ideally use an Ultra High-Speed Certified HDMI cable.
Switching between HDMI ports by using the input/source button on your remote
Another key feature to remember is the relationship between the input/source button on your remote and the different HDMI ports. You can switch between HDMI inputs (and their connected devices) by circling through them by pressing the input/source button on your remote control (). For example, if you’ve connected a set-top box on HDMI 1 and a PS5 on HDMI 2, you'll experience this scenario:
- If you choose HDMI 1, you will see the content of your set-top box
- If you select HDMI 2, you’ll see the PS5 content.
- If you select HDMI 3 and no device is connected, you’ll see a black menu screen.
Be mindful of HDMI port differences
Finally, it's good to know that not all HDMI inputs are equal. Some HDMI ports support more advanced features, like ARC/eARC or 4k/120HZ. Don't worry; if your TV supports those features, the differences are always marked on the back of the TV (or visible in the reference guide). Be mindful of what features you want to use because if you don't connect your devices to the right HDMI port or aren't using a certified high-speed cable, you might miss out.
While HDMI covers both audio and video, the optical cable only transfers audio. It’s used to connect sound bars or home theatre systems.
LAN (Ethernet port)
Lots of TVs are now connected to the internet via Wi-Fi. It’s convenient and commonly available. But it’s still possible to connect your TV to your router with a cable. That cable is called an ethernet cable, and it is still a good workaround to avoid internet performance issues caused by router distance or any obstacles in your TV environment. In short, you can use the Ethernet port to connect your TV to the internet with a cable.
You can use the USB ports to connect USB devices. The most common use-case for TVs is the USB hard disc drive (USB HDDs), meant to record things or play back media files which you stored. Note that the USB port mentions a number (e.g. 900 mA), that expresses how much power output the USB port has. That’s interesting to figure out if the USB port can support the power requirements of a USB drive. Oh, and if the USB port is blue, it's the SSD.
The coaxial cable, or “coax” cable, is used to transfer high-frequency electrical signals. In the everyday TV environment, that means that this cable is used to send the cable or satellite TV signal to your TV. The traditional TV cable is a coax cable, and if you use a satellite dish, it will also be connected via a coax cable to your TV.
Audio / Video mini-jack IN / Headphone jack output
This is the realm of analogue external devices. You can transfer audio and video signals to your TV by connecting a device with a mini-jack cable (e.g. a photo camera). Sometimes you need a conversion cable (RCA conversion cable, has three coloured audio cables to one jack, which you can insert into the TV). It's an Audio / Video IN, so it's only meant to receive audio and video from an external device to the TV. You can't use this port to connect wired headphones; that would be covered by the headphone jack output. Most TVs have a headphone jack output, but with the emergence of Bluetooth connectivity, most modern TVs start depending on connecting via Bluetooth.