How to Connect a Set-Top DVR to an SD Television

Start recording video in minutes

A TiVo

 Chris Weeks / Getty Images

Maybe you just got your TiVO in the mail, or you picked up a new Digital Video Recorder (DVR) from your cable company. If you still have a standard-definition (SD) analog television, the process for hooking your DVR up is a bit different than if you had a digital television. Here's how to get it all wired up properly:

Hook Up the TiVo

  1. Determine what cables you need to make the connections. To connect the audio and video from the DVR to the TV, you will need either a composite (RCA) cable to connect the video and audio, an S-Video cable and an RCA audio cable, or a component video cable and RCA audio cable. You also can use the RF input on the TV if it's an older model that doesn't have any other connections.
  2. If you are a Cable TV subscriber, attach the coaxial cable coming in from the wall or floor to the RF input on the DVR. Satellite TV subscribers need to attach the cable coming from the satellite dish to the Dish input on the DVR. If you have just an antenna, attach the line coming from the antenna to the RF input on the DVR. Once the signal is input to the DVR, you're ready to output to the TV.
  3. Connect the RCA video (yellow) and RCA audio (white and red) cables to the corresponding outputs on the DVR. Then, connect the RCA audio and video cables to the inputs on the TV. If the TV accepts S-video or component video inputs, use those for the video signal instead of the RCA video. If your TV is an older model, it may only have an RF input. If that's the case, you can connect the DVR RF output to the RF input on the TV.
  4. Plug in the DVR (and TV, if necessary) to an electrical outlet and turn them both on.
  5. Tune to channel 3 or 4 on the TV set to determine which channel picks up the cable, satellite or antenna signal.

That's it! You're now ready to begin watching and recording TV shows with your DVR.

If you have a choice between using S-video or component video cables, use the latter. Component cable allows for a higher-quality video signal.

Even if you have only an older-model TV, you can still connect a DVR by using a coaxial cable and connecting to the RF input on the TV from the RF output on the DVR.

What You Need

  • Audio/video cables
  • Set-top digital video recorder (DVR)
  • Analog television