Four key steps to
setting up an HDTV
Q: I’m getting a new HDTV for the holidays.
What do I need to do to make sure it’s set
Q: I need more hard-drive space for my computer. Is it easy to install an external drive,
and are they safe?
A: Congratulations! You will love your new TV’s
stunning video quality. Graduating from a standard-definition television to a high-definition television
(HDTV) can be as significant as replacing a black-and-white TV set for a color one (if you’re old
enough to remember that!).
But—there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?—in
order to enjoy HDTV to its full potential, you need
to make sure the television is set up properly.
The following are four steps to HDTV bliss.
Make sure you have a true
HDTV set. Such sets are capable
of displaying up to 1,080 lines
(interlaced) or 720 lines (
progressive) of resolution. Don’t
assume a wide-screen LCD or
plasma television is an HDTV set
just because it’s flat, as it may be
only an EDTV (enhanced digital
television). EDTVs can display
only 480 lines.
Have the right receiver. After
you’ve taken the new television
home and plugged it in, there are a
few more things you need to do.
Depending on where you live, you
might receive some free over-the-air HDTV broadcasts (if your television has a built-in HD tuner),
but most people will need to buy or rent an HDTV
receiver box from the cable or satellite TV provider.
Be aware you will likely have to pay a few extra dollars per month for access to the HDTV programming,
too (don’t worry—it’s worth it).
Have the right cables. Last, you will need the
right cables to connect your cable or satellite receiver
box to your TV. You probably used the red, yellow
and white composite (RCA) cords or a round-ended
S-Video cable for your older TV. But high-definition
programming requires component cables (red,
blue and green), a DVI (digital visual interface)
cable or the preferred HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cable. Which cable you use depends
on what your components can handle.
Go to the right channel. When you have everything in place and are ready to enjoy all the real benefits of HDTV, make sure you tune into the correct HD
channels. For example, in some places ABC might be
channel 4 for a standard channel, 104 for HD.
A: Yes and yes.
First, it’s never been easier to add more hard-drive space to your computer, so you can store more
programs, games, music, photos and so on.
In the “early days” of personal computers—er,
less than 10 years ago—you had to open up your PC’s
tower to install an internal hard drive, which meant
fumbling with ribbons, switches and power cables.
Today, external hard drives are very easy to
install. Simply plug the hard drive into one of the
computer’s USB ports and you’ll
see a new drive letter show up,
such as E: or F:. You can now drag
and drop files over from your
main C: drive.
If the hard drive isn’t a “plug
and play” model (it should say
on the box), you might have to
format the drive before using it,
which can be done on a Windows
computer using the Administrative Tools area within the Control
Panel. Follow the instructions
in the drive’s user manual.
Most external hard drives
require external power, so you’ll
need to plug yours into an electrical outlet.
Oh, and another advantage
to using an external hard drive is the fact that it’s
mobile, so you can bring it with you to the office or
a summer home. You can also unplug it from one
computer and use it with another.
External hard drives are an excellent digital storage solution, but be sure to make a backup of your
important files every couple of weeks by burning a
CD or DVD and keeping it in a safe place. This precaution is just in case something happens to the
computer or external hard drive, such as theft, fire, a
nasty virus or a harmful power surge. C
In order to
to its full
need to make
sure the tele-
vision is set
Marc Saltzman, a lead-
ing high-tech reporter,
contributes to more than
three dozen prominent
publications, appears on
radio and TV, and is the
author of 13 books.
Questions about electronics
or computers you purchased
at Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a wide range of HDTVs from a variety of manufacturers, as well as HDTV cable
setup kits, in the warehouses and at costco.com.
Also available in the warehouses and online are
external hard drives from Western Digital, Maxtor
and other manufacturers.
in the subject line.
Marc will answer
selected questions in this
column. We regret that
cannot be answered