Upgrading to HDTV is no reason to stop using your VCR.
Digital cable TV, complete with high-definition (HD) programming, allows viewers with an HDTV to display optimal picture and sound quality when using cables that support HD video. VCRs can still have their place in a home entertainment system as well, from playing old tapes to recording new ones from HD and SD cable channels. However, VHS is an analog recording medium and VCRs are not equipped to record, view or relay HD-quality video. Still, it is possible to connect a VCR and still have HD video quality when not viewing through that source.
1. Connect a coaxial cable from the wall outlet to the “Cable In” jack on the rear of your HD cable set-top receiver box/DVR. Connect the set-top box to your HDTV using HDMI (preferred for highest-quality) or component A/V cables (five separate connectors: red, blue and green for video, red and white for audio) to allow for HD video when viewing HD channels and content.
2. Connect another coaxial cable or a set of composite RCA cables (three connectors: yellow for video, red and white for audio) from that output on the cable set-top box to the matching input on your VCR.
3. Connect the VCR to your HDTV using the type of cables supported by your VCR. For a stand-alone unit, this will be composite RCA (substituting an S-video cable for the yellow composite video cable if you choose, for TV inputs that offer both) or coaxial. Some VCR/DVD combination units may also have HDMI and/or component video outputs–use one of those when available. Remember that when playing video through the VCR, any HD content will be “downconverted” to standard-definition resolution, due to the limits inherent to VCRs.
4. Set your TV’s source input setting to the input of the cable set-top box (ie. HDMI1) to view HD cable programming. Set your VCR to its designated viewing channel (3 or 4) and press “Record” to record a program on the cable channel you are currently watching. Set your TV’s source input to that of the VCR (i.e. Video 1) to view content from the VCR. If using a VCR/DVD combo with HDMI output, set the “TV/VCR” switch to “TV” mode when not viewing through the VCR to keep the player from downconverting the video feed.