Like a lot of people are doing these days, my brother- and sister-in-law replaced a CRT TV with an LCD. I helped my brother-in-law hook it up last weekend, and we got it working, but probably could have done things a little bit differently.

A lot of inexpensive LCDs have a limited number of inputs in order to meet a price point, and that’s what we ran into. The LCD had just as many inputs as the TV it replaced, but with some cable shuffling, we would have been able to make the new TV easier to use.
The old TV had a DVD player and VCR connected to it. He wanted to connect those, plus a game system. We got it done, and without buying any new cables. We connected the VCR to the antenna input and chained the DVD player off that, then connected the game system to the TV’s sole set of composite inputs. That arrangement usually works, but the VCR has to be powered on for the DVD player to work.

Costlier TVs often have two composite inputs, which makes things easier.

One thing I suggested to him is that he get the appropriate cable for the game system to connect via component video, or, better yet, DVI. The DVI input would give a nicer picture, and would free up the composite input for the DVD player.

His DVD player didn’t have a DVI connection. Newer players do, and the difference in picture quality makes it worth doing, if you have that option. One thing his DVD player did have is an S-Video connection, so he could connect it with an S-Video cable. The downside with this TV is that both the composite and S-Video inputs share the same audio input. The way around that is to get a pair of RCA y-adapters, plug those into the audio inputs of the TV, then plug the game system and DVD audio inputs into the y-adapters. You can get away with this since you won’t be using the DVD player and game system at the same time.

The very best we could have done would have been to migrate the game system to DVI or component, move the DVD player to S-video, and move the VCR from the coax antenna input to the RCA input. DVI gives the best picture quality, followed by component, followed by S-Video, followed by RCA, and last and least, coax.

This also demonstrates that with some creativity, you can connect a lot even to the very cheapest LCD. Even at the very low end, they typically have two DVI connections, one component connection, one composite connection, one S-video connection, and a coax connection. So you could connect up to six devices: one each to the DVI, component, composite, S-video, and coax connections. And if any of those devices are VCRs, you could chain an additional device off any of the VCRs.