Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Please help me get all of my a/v equipment to play nice with my new hdtv.
January 3, 2013 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Please help me get all of my a/v equipment to play nice with my new hdtv.

Based on past AskMe threads and Consumer Reports, my wife and I bought a Samsung 32" 1080p 60Hz LED Smart TV. I got it set up last night, it looks good and it's connected to our wireless network and antenna (we don't have cable, and don't want it), so that's fine.

The issue is that this is the first non-CRT I've ever owned, so I'm pretty completely clueless about the best way to get all of my a/v devices hooked up to the thing.

Here's what we have:

- a 2009 or 2010 MacBook running Snow Leopard
- a Wii
- a non-Blu Ray DVD player
- an iPad 2
- an early-2000s-era stereo

What is the most efficient way to get everything attached? At the moment we have three different cables that hook up to the yellow video input at the back of the TV that we have to change every time we want to switch between the iPad, the Wii and the DVD player, but I assume there's has to be a way that doesn't involve plugging and unplugging cables.

The Wii we'd like to use for Netflix, the iPad and MacBook for streaming YouTube/Vimeo and movies we get from iTunes. My understanding is that the MacBook and iPad will run Mountain Lion and therefore Apple TV, but since we can use the Wii for Netflix and hook the iPad up to the TV I'm wondering if that would be worth spending the money?

Anyway, any guidance you can provide this old n00b would be greatly appreciated.
posted by The Card Cheat to Technology (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The yellow input is component video and old and sad. You brand-new TV has HDMI inputs, so use those whenever you can. Composite (red/blue/green) should be the next option before component.

a 2009 or 2010 MacBook running Snow Leopard
an iPad 2
Apple TV (via HDMI) or whatever-the-hell proprietary Mac port to HDMI. I think Apple TV is easier in your situation. You should be doing Netflix through this rather than the Wii because...

a Wii
Component cable (the red/green/blue wire.) Keep in mind you won't get 1080p out of Netflxi via the Wii because it tops off at 480p.

a non-Blu Ray DVD player
Most likely HDMI, but possibly component.

an early-2000s-era stereo
Most likely you'll be hooking it up via composite (red/white) to the output of the TV, but this varies depending on the details. Do you have a model number?
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, if your Samsung is like mine, you should have two or three HDMI inputs, one or two component inputs, one or two composite inputs, and a composite output for sound. Each input can be selected using the remote, so no need to wire anything more than once unless you get a new toy.

And only buy HDMI cables on or Amazon. They are marked up between 10x and 20x everywhere else.
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2013

Point of clarification: A single yellow cable is composite and the 3 r/g/b cables are component (reverse from what griphus said above). I agree with everything else.
posted by primethyme at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Seconding that that $99 AppleTV is your best bet here. It will natively do Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and let you wirelessly stream from the iPad and Mac to the TV. From there, you just need to hook up the DVD player and Wii, likely via the methods griphus outlines, and the receiver via whatever inputs it supports.
posted by ellF at 11:12 AM on January 3, 2013

(reverse from what griphus said above)

Clarification clarification: ...but only in the first sentence. Which is probably more confusing. Let me know if you need me to rewrite/clarify anything in my answer.
posted by griphus at 11:17 AM on January 3, 2013

We have a similar setup: a Wii, a Mac Mini, a TiVo HD and a 2003-era 5.1 stereo.

All of the various media generators are connected to the TV. You'll want to use HDMI for this. If you absolutely can't, you want to use component (RGB+RW) cables, but you lose digital audio that way. Give the composite (Y+RW) a miss.

For the Wii, get a Wii component cable. For the iPad 2, either get a Apple HDMI 30-pin adapter or an Apple TV. For the MacBook, you want a Mini Displayport to HDMI adapter that supports digital audio. Connect each of these into the TV's HDMI inputs on the back.

From there, we have a digital optical connection from the TV to the stereo. Most modern TVs do digital audio passthrough, so the TV will simply pass the audio on to the stereo, and let the stereo do the decoding. This means that we use the TV to switch between inputs, and adjust the volume on the stereo. Most remotes can support this.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:24 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your Wii will only output 480p if you're using component cables. Even then, that's not a full HD signal and you could be getting better quality elsewhere, such as an Apple TV or PS3 or whatever.
posted by dobi at 11:39 AM on January 3, 2013

It sounds to me like you're trying to connect a bunch of peripheral devices to a TV that was designed to put those devices out to pasture. Judging from your link, it looks like your Smart TV has an app that will do Netflix, as well as Youtube. I wouldn't be surprised if there are other apps that can do Vimeo or whatever other relatively mainstream web service you're trying to use. I'd comb through those apps and I bet you'll find some really interesting stuff to watch - that's half the fun!

Last, for the video that comes "from iTunes" - if you're actually using their store I think you'll need something like Apple TV or buy Apple's port-to-HDMI (as mentioned by griphus above), but if you're using iTunes to watch movies you own that are on your hard drive, there are other options out there for turning a computer into a media server (I personally use Plex, but I couldn't tell if they make an app for your TV model).
posted by antonymous at 11:55 AM on January 3, 2013

Great answers, thanks!

Seconding that that $99 AppleTV is your best bet here. It will natively do Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and let you wirelessly stream from the iPad and Mac to the TV.

If I want to stream from the MacBook/iPad to Apple TV do I need Mountain Lion, or can I use Snow Leopard 10.6.8?

Sounds like AppleTV would eliminate the need for the Wii component cable because I could keep using the (old and sad) component video cord, no? I don't need HD for Wii games, which is all I'd be using it for if we use AppleTV for Netflix, etc.

As for the stereo...

> Most likely you'll be hooking it up via composite (red/white) to the output of the TV, but this varies depending on the details. Do you have a model number?

I'm at work and don't have a model number handy, but my quick glance at the TV manual last night seemed to indicate that all I'll need is a red/white composite cable, not anything fancy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:59 AM on January 3, 2013

> Judging from your link, it looks like your Smart TV has an app that will do Netflix, as well as Youtube.

It's possible...I got the TV set up last night about half an hour before I went to bed, so I didn't have time to mess about with it too much. However, I did click on a couple of the apps and was prompted to sign up for some sort of Samsung account, which gave me pause.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:03 PM on January 3, 2013

AirPlay Mirroring, the Apple name for streaming to an iTV, is described here. It does require Mountain Lion: "AirPlay Mirroring is available with iPad 2 or later; iPhone 4S; iPhone 5; iPod touch (5th generation); and iMac (Mid 2011 or newer), Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer), MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or newer), and MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or newer) with Mountain Lion."
posted by ellF at 12:17 PM on January 3, 2013

2 HDMI Cables ($5) | Amazon via Amazon | Originally $10 | Use coupon code BOGOFFFP
posted by griphus at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2013

Make sure your HDMI cables are marked 'high speed'. Maybe they are all these days, but I spent a couple of days tearing my hairs out trying to troubleshoot sound and picture issues with a new A/V setup. Finally discovered it was the old and crusty HDMI cable I found laying around.
posted by jquinby at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2013

This is my stereo receiver model: Pioneer Audio/Video Multi Channel Receiver/VSX-D457 Digital Signal Processor.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2013

Hm, that's too bad about the Samsung account creation requirement, but I really think that's your best bet on that front, especially w/r/t Netflix and YouTube. For everything else, as others have said, HDMI is your best option when it is available (though I don't know what jquinby refers to re: "high speed" HDMI cables - never heard of that issue before).
posted by antonymous at 1:08 PM on January 3, 2013

More here on the cables, for whatever it's worth. If the cable was recently made, you're probably fine, but if you find one in a box from who knows when, and things are wonky as hell, try a newer cable (for the $5 listed above).
posted by jquinby at 1:13 PM on January 3, 2013

So this is the back of your receiver. I assume the remote or front panel has options to switch inputs.

You can hook the Wii in with just the standard red/white audio patch (male on both ends) cable, and most likely the DVD player as well. However, it looks like the current models of Apple TV only do optical audio, so you'll need to get an optical -> stereo converter. I can't recommend a specific one, but you'll want something like this. I have no idea if that is a good price/product or not.
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on January 3, 2013

If you nabbed an AppleTV, it has an HDMI port. Run the Apple TV via HDMI to the TV, and the TV's audio via optical audio out to the receiver with the box griphus mentioned.

Alternatively, a new receiver might not be a terrible idea -- with the fancy new TV, a few hundred on an HDMI-enabled Denon would be my preferred route. It's not necessary, but it wouldn't be a bad "next upgrade".
posted by ellF at 3:23 PM on January 3, 2013


1. The stereo receiver simply plugs into the back of the TV using a plain old red/white composite cable, so that's that.
2. The TV itself has Netflix/YouTube apps built-in, so I don't think I'll need Apple TV if;
3. I buy an HDMI cable and the adapter recommended by TheNewWazoo for the iPad. The laptop is a non-issue, because we can play everything from iTunes using the iPad and stream everything else on the TV.
4. As far as the Wii goes, I can either buy the Wii component cable also recommended by TNW, but we'll probably upgrade to a blu-ray player (which will plug into an HDMI port) and just keep the old yellow component video input plugged in for the Wii since picture quality isn't really a big issue for that device (especially since I mostly use it to play games from the '80s).

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2013

nota bene, by connecting the TV to the stereo using RCA cables (red/white), you're only getting a left/right channel. If you really want the full surround-sound goodness, you'll need to upgrade to a stereo that has a digital input that your TV supports (e.g. TOSLINK) or you'll need to get something like this decoder that you'll then use to connect to each of the surround inputs on the back of your stereo.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:13 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Isn't the point of a Smart TV to use those apps? So you don't have to connect a million different peripherals? Why not try them?
posted by barnone at 5:46 AM on February 18, 2013

« Older I was thinking about Steve Job...   |  Asking for a friend: Planning ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.