Avoid TV Ads by Using 2 TV Screens

You can completely avoid TV ads by playing DVD cassettes or VCR tapes during all ads. But when the show comes back after the ad, you’ll need to know it, so we have found that the best method is to have a separate small TV off to the side of your big main TV. Connect it to the HDMI output jack on the back of your HD cable box rather than connecting it to your TV cable. Both TVs will display the current program on the channel selected on the cable box except that when you play a tape, only the big screen will show the tape. The little screen will keep showing you the TV program and clue you in when the program starts back up after the ad.

Lower down on this page, you’ll find the wiring for getting P&P from your Sony Bravia. We were using the Sony Video Cassette Recorder/DVD Recorder RDR-VX560, which they do not make anymore. You won’t be able to even get parts for it once 2015 comes around. It’s unique in that it will let you do VCR watching and TV watching at the same time (via P&P) wherein you watch a live broadcast but when it goes to an ad, you play the VCR tape, and when the ad is done (which you see in the small picture on the right), you press Stop on the VCR player and watch the live show. There are VCR/DVD players that will do all this for the DVD part of the combo player but not the VCR part. Only this combo player (the RDR-VX560) will send VCR output to the Sony Bravia via the required HDMI cable–the rest will only send the DVD video through the HDMI cable.

So once your RDR-VX560 dies, you’ll need a new plan, unless you’ve given up on VCR tapes and are using DVDs only. My new plan involved abandoning P&P and using the Sony Bravia as a full screen, and then using a small $99.95 19″ TV (Sceptre E195BV-SHD from Walmart) for the little screen, which is placed just to the left of the big TV on my entertainment center shelf. Again, the little screen will always be on the same channel as the big screen because it’s connected to the Comcast HD cable box (Motorola DCH3200) via an HDMI cable. The big TV connects to the DVD/VCR combo (which I mainly use to play VHS tapes which I record TV shows on daily) via a coaxial cable. The DVD/VCR combo player connects to the Sony Bravia TV (the big screen) via a coaxial cable.

So I’m always looking at the big screen, watching what the DVD/VCR combo player is playing unless there’s a good show (e.g., NCIS) on, in which case I only play the VHS tape during NCIS’s ads. It’s not hard to see when the ad quits by keeping my peripheral vision aware of CBS’s content shown on the little screen, even though most of my attention is on the big screen that’s watching the VHS tape.

Above is the diagram that illustrates the basic idea. For the actual diagram of how my living room situation is set up, see the diagram below, which shows how an amplifier and a Blu-Ray DVD player and a plain old DVD player and three other DVD/VCR players actually fit in as well, supplemented with two A/B switches and an A/B/C switch.

Sony Bravia P&P

Sony TV’s are among the best tv sets in the world today.  They have a large range of different sets, from lcd televsions to the new 3d tv’s.  All include the latest and best technology and give a stunning picture. Sony Bravia TV sets have a wonderful feature called P&P, which allows users to watch two things at once side by side on the same TV screen (one live, one recorded) or at least play a VCR tape or DVD during the ads while watching live cable TV broadcasts. A normal TV broadcast has 16 or more minutes of ads during each hour of TV programming. If you’re like me, you’ll want to avoid the ads and watch prerecorded programs from your VCR during the ads, while keeping watch with your peripheral vision for the ads to cease and the program to resume. Cool programs like Burn Notice, Big Bang Theory, and NCIS deserve to be watched live, but why not enjoy prerecorded series programs like CSI, Law and Order LA, or The Good Wife in the ads?

Of course, to do this you’ll need to have a TV set that can either do PIP (picture inside picture rather than next to it), like my old analog Mitsubishi TV, or P&P (2 side by side pictures), like my new Sony Bravia 32” TV. My Sony Bravia is a KDL-32S3000. This and other models with P&P make the whole TV viewing experience richer since you’re spared the ads if you utilize P&P correctly. Or you may simply look at it as more efficient viewing, since 100% rather than 73% of your viewing time is about the shows you like and none is about the ads. (I have to confess stopping for the Apple Mac ads that rake Microsoft’s Windows Vista over the coals for being such a flaky OS, but, that guilty pleasure aside, I simply wish to avoid all those annoying ads! And as for the ad from Microsoft where we’re watching Jerry Seinfeld help Bill Gates buy shoes, and this is supposed to be damage control that responds to the Apple ads, all I can say is this: Far from countering Apple’s criticisms—the ad merely confirms the validity of Apple’s complaints, where the Mac guy nails the Windows guy for spending money on ads rather than on fixing Vista!)

Tivo or DVRs can be used to skip ads, but I’ve read up on both and I choose to use P&P for ad skipping, since I don’t mind setting up TV recordings every morning for that day, and I’ve talked to people about the hassle of dealing with a full DVR or the frustration of a crashed DVR and I prefer VCRs, thank you.

Anyway, the wonderful P&P feature can only be used if you wire things up correctly. If you have a newer Sony VCR/DVD Combo unit that supports P&P but has no tuner or coax video outputs or coax video inputs, you wire it up one way. If you have an older VCR/DVD Combo unit with a tuner and coax outputs and inputs, you wire it up another way. Let’s look at the old way first:

Sony Bravia TV P&P Wiring Diagram for VCR-DVD Combo units with Coax and Tuners

Check out the diagram: Sony Bravia TV P&P Wiring Diagram for VCR-DVD Combo units with Coax and Tuners. Using a Philips Digital Video Disc Player and Video Cassette Recorder DVP3150V/37 which has coax inputs and outputs and an analog tuner, I called the Sony people and they were wonderfully helpful and led me to hook things up the way you see in the diagram. The only disappointment was that the tape I played in my VCR during ads showed up in the smaller of the two P&P windows, a.k.a. the sub window. However, the main window held the signal from the channel being watched live, which was good.

Note that a High Definition (HD) Cable Box seems to be required to make the P&P function work right, regardless of whether you’re using a VCR with tuner or without tuner. The splitter is optional but I have several other VCRs that require it so they can get their coax connections.

Now check out the diagram: Sony Bravia TV P&P Wiring Diagram for VCR-DVD Combo units without Coax or Tuners. Using a Sony Video Cassette Recorder/DVD Recorder RDR-VX560 with no coax or tuner, I again called the Sony people, since their manual stated on page 27 that a coax cable “must be connected to use the P&P/PIP feature.” But the Sony VCR doesn’t have any video coax inputs or outputs, so I needed to find out what I would use instead. (Obviously they need to update their manual to reflect the new realities of the national transition to digital broadcasting and the consequent dumping of coax connections and analog tuners in VCRs.) They talked it over, then told me to go with an HDMI 1.3 cable between the VCR and TV, a composite cable between the Cable Box and VCR, and a coax cable between the Cable Box and TV. It worked great! And, best of all, the tapes I play in the ads are on the main window, not the sub window. If you set it up right, the only control needed once P&P is functioning is the VCR remote’s Play and Stop and Fast Forward buttons. When not playing tapes, both windows contain the live signal. When playing tapes, the main window gets the VCR signal and the small window gets the live signal, which is perfect.

Sony Bravia TV P&P Wiring Diagram for VCR-DVD Combo units without Coax or Tuners

Sony Bravia TV P&P Wiring Diagram for VCR-DVD Combo units without Coax or Tuners

To use the P&P function, press the Input button on your TV remote and choose the HDMI input which you may be calling VCR—I call it that. Then press the Options button on your TV remote and select P&P. The Return button lets you exit P&P.

Sony Bravia TV P&P

Below is a diagram of what you can expect to see when you watch TV using the Sony Bravia P&P mode. The Main Window is on the left and the Sub Window is on the right. When you’re watching the live program, BOTH windows are the same—the live program. When you start up the tape on your VCR, its picture/signal will be seen on the Main Window. The ads you’re skipping in the live broadcast are in the Sub Window, and as soon as the ads are done, there will be a blank screen for a second and then your program will resume. To see it and hear it, simply stop the VCR. When the next ad starts up, press Play on your VCR. 

Sony Bravia TV P&P

This is better than the old PIP (picture in picture) methods employed by many analog TVs in the past, since you don’t have to put up with a picture blocking part of your program content. The fact that you have to utilize two smaller windows rather than the entire TV screen is a slight inconvenience, but one gets used to it quickly.

If you happen to have an older VCR-DVD Combo unit with Coax and Analog Tuner, the VCR signal will, unfortunately, be in the Sub Window, but with a modern VCR-DVD Combo unit without Coax or Tuner, both the VCR signal and the live TV program will be in the Main Window, and the Sub Window will only be for monitoring when the ad is done and the program is resuming so you can press your VCR remote’s Stop button.

I highly value this P&P technology, as it recognizes that many people like VCRs and like to record more than two things at once, which DVRs and Tivos cannot do, or at least couldn’t the last time I checked. Renting a couple of DVRs so I could get more stuff recorded would help that, but the costs of all this renting of equipment mounts up quickly, and I prefer not to endure them. And the hard drive crashes on any of this equipment is something I absolutely can live without! I get enough of such aggravations with my computer systems, thank you!


The diagrams were created with Ez-Architect for XP and Vista and are copyrighted by that site. Use the diagrams or info wherever you want AS LONG AS YOU INCLUDE THE ABOVE LIVE LINK WITH YOUR USAGE.


Comments from initial version


1.This is really great. You should get Sony to link to this as they really need it in the P&P section of their manual. I was flummoxed when I tried to set this up on my TV. Sony does have great tech support, but not this good. This makes it totally straightforward. I LOVE being able to watch tapes during ads. This is the true meaning of P and P. (Picture and Picture.) You can almost watch one picture with each eye! I was used to my VCRs having COAX input and the setup that entails, and had no clue where to start when I got the new VCR with no tuner. This seems kind of magical 😉
Thanks for sharing the info.

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16.Hi thank you for this info.
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17.Both windows are the cable box channel you want until you start the vcr tape, then the little box is the cable box channel and the big box is your vcr tape. That’s how it works. Period. There may be other trick one can do—who knows? When the little box shows something you want, you stop the tape until the little box has ads or something crummy. OK?

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