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What are my options?
A PS3 is capable of a variety of outputs. On the back of the PS3 are three output jacks. These are AV Multi, Optical (audio), and HDMI.
AV Multi is the standard 5-cable component output. This is the mid-range standard in most audio/video devices, and offers decent sound and video quality. The output can be slightly enhanced by using high quality cables such as those with 14K gold connectors, but in general, component output is run of the mill.
Optical output is audio only and in the majority of cases, it is used when connecting your PS3 to a stereo receiver or home theater amplifier. If one were so inclined, however, the PS3 does make it possible to use both component video and optical audio output at the same time.
Lastly, and the focus of this article, is HDMI. Short for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, HDMI is the new standard in High-Def audio and video. It combines audio and video output into one compact cable and often comes equipped with gold connectors. HDMI offers a digital alternative to a wide variety of analog interfaces.
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Connecting PS3 to TV via HDMI
The easiest and highest quality way to connect your PS3 to your HDTV is through an HDMI cable. You will not be able to achieve true high definition without it, and so all those resolution ratings of 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p will be moot unless you use HDMI. The connection itself is very simple. If you have component cables connected to the PS3, remove them before continuing.
Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the PS3 and the other end into your TV. Turn on the PS3. If you see a picture, then your video settings are correct and that's all you need to do! Your Playstation will not automatically detect the interface type for sound, however, so you may need to alter the audio output settings.
From the main PS3 menu, navigate across the menu bar to the left side and find the heading titled, "Settings." Under that heading, scroll down to "Sound Settings" and press X. The next screen has only two options. Select "Audio Output" and choose the option for HDMI. Once you have selected that option and are back to the menu, you're set up for the best sound and video the PS3 is capable of. What you see and hear is far more likely to be limited by the quality of your HDTV than by the A/V output of the PS3.
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Connecting to a Home Theater
If you have an HDTV and a PS3, chances are you also have a home theater setup as well. While some stereo amps are now coming equipped with HDMI input, most systems in the home are not HDMI ready. If you are lucky enough to have such a setup, you would connect the PS3 to the stereo via HDMI and then run a second HDMI cable from the stereo to the TV.
However, in most cases, the recommended setup to retain the best quality possible, is as follows. Connect the PS3 to the HDTV using your HDMI cable and ensure that you are getting video on your screen. Next, connect an Optical audio cable (available at any electronics store for about $15 - $20) from the back of the PS3 and connect the other end to your stereo receiver. Each stereo will have different settings for optimizing the sound and choosing the appropriate input, so see your manual for those adjustments.
Now, follow the same instructions as before to change the Audio Output settings on your PS3. This time, instead of HDMI, select Optical (audio) and follow through back to the main menu. As long as your stereo is set up and functioning correctly... Viola! You should now be seeing high quality video from your HDTV and hearing high quality audio through your stereo system. Bring on the Blu-Ray!
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If your TV does not support HDMI inputs but you still want to connect a PS3 then read Connecting a PlayStation 3 to your TV without HDMI.