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Connecting Video

The video connection is a two-part process: you have to get video from your Mac to the television. Some Macs have only one way of getting the video out of your Mac, whereas others (such as PowerBooks) have a couple of different ways. The thing to do is to take the highest-quality signal you can reasonably plug into your TV with a minimum of hassle. That’s usually an S-Video or RCA connector, but if you happen to have a Mac with a DVI connector and a shiny new TV with a DVI connector, use them by all means.

Next, you have to think about what kind of video your television can receive. Again, this is probably S-video or RCA, but it might be good old-fashioned coaxial video (as found on older television sets). If that’s the case, you have to purchase something called an RF modulator, which converts newer video signals to something that a TV with coaxial input can understand. It can typically be set to send its video out on channel 3 or channel 4, as with a VCR. You should be able to find one for under $50 at a home electronics store.

Figure 3

Figure 3 An RF adapter can help you connect newer video gear to older equipment—in this case, a newer computer to an older TV. You can get one that also does video switching for $50 from Radio Shack.

Once you know the kind of video connector your Mac uses (S-Video or RCA) and the kind of video connector your TV accepts, you need to get a cable that matches the two. If one uses S-Video and the other uses RCA, you have to get an S-Video to RCA adapter and an RCA cable. PowerBooks often ship with the adapter, or you can pick one up at your local home electronics store.

Figure 4

Figure 4 An S-Video to RCA adapter can solve your video connection problems. Radio Shack sells a nice compact one for around $22.

If you want to connect more than one video source to your TV and you don’t want (or can’t have) the video pass through devices on the way, you might want to invest in a video switcher. Again, this is a gadget you can pick up at your local home electronics or home theater store (you should be able to pick one up for under $50 (the Terk Video Switch runs around $35).

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