If you've just made the leap to a high definition television set, you're probably feeling a bit daunted by this rapidly evolving technology. It can be difficult for a new HDTV owner to figure out what is truly an HD signal and how to receive it. If you have cable, your cable company will likely tell you that you need to pay an extra monthly fee for an HD capable cable box. But you can actually receive HD signals through your current cable line without the need for a box, and this guide will tell you how.
Hooking Your Cable Straight into Your HDTV
Depending on where you live, you may have been able to plug your cable straight into your old TV set to get the basic channels, or you may have been required to use a box for each TV connected to your cable. Regardless, your HDTV will now be able to see cable channels simply by plugging the coaxial cable line (the one that comes straight into your house from outside) straight into the back of the TV. Here are the steps for beginning this process:
- Plug or screw the coaxial cable into the proper input on the back of your TV. It will be the metallic one with threads, not any of the multicolored ones.
- If you are just turning on your new TV for the first time, it will most likely ask if you want to conduct a channel scan. It will also provide you with the option to scan for Antenna or Cable channels. You should choose Cable. If you do not see this screen on startup, consult your TV's manual to find out where the Channel Scan function is.
- Start the Channel Scan. During this process your TV will either be black or showing the manufacturer's logo. This may last for up to ten minutes.
- When the channel scan completes, you should be able to scan through your TV's channels and see all of those that your cable company includes in the basic package. You will also see some extra channels that may not be listed in your cable company's lineup.
Finding Out What Channels You Receive in What Order
Remember to scan through each of the channels your TV's auto-scan discovered in order to find your local stations in HD. Often, they are not too easy to find, residing somewhere in the 100s. Sometimes, they are located on the same channel number as their over-the-air antenna number. This can be confusing if you were used to watching them on yet another channel on your old TV set.
Again, depending on where you live and how your cable company currently sends out its signal, you may receive a full lineup of “analog” channels, followed by a lineup of “digital” channels. If your cable company made you use a converter box for all of your old TV sets, chances are you will only see the “digital” lineup. In each of these digital lineups, you will find all of your local network affiliates in true HD. Your cable company is actually required to bring you these channels in HD with no extra fee.
Cable Box vs. “Boxless” Cable
If you watch TV mainly through a cable box, more than likely this box has no HD capability. These are two ways to tell if your box is not HD capable:
- It only has one coaxial cable output. (This is the cable that usually has a screw-on connector.)
- It has one coaxial cable output and three other connectors that are red, white, and yellow in color.
It is likely that you will get more channels on this box than you would with the cable plugged straight into the TV. The only problem is that those channels won't be in HD. But if you don't watch much cable beyond the basic channels, this may not be an issue.
Conclusion: Local Channels in HD No Matter What
When you get a new HDTV set, you should test to see how many channels you receive
with the cable plugged straight into the TV. If you can still see all of your basic cable channels in the order you are used to, in addition to new channels after this lineup ends, you will most likely not need an extra box. If you see less channels, it will probably be easier to pay the extra fee for an HD box, but you will still be able to see a basic lineup in standard definition and the local network affiliates in true high definition without any sort of additional box.
Melisa on October 06, 2018:
Do you think I can cancel my expensive and horrific sudden link and still get local
alex on May 22, 2015:
I'm able to get the local stations using the cable line that provides my broadband. Last night pbs kids vanished. I was able to recalibrate one tv and found it under another channel. However, my samsung TV will not find the same station during the channel scan as my TV in the kids room. Anyone have expedience with this dilemma?