How To Connect a Computer To Your TV

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How To Connect a Computer To Your TV

Unread postby morefun » 13 Mar 2010 07:57

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Overview


Many people already know that you can connect a computer to a plasma TV, but it is not as well known that you can also hook up a computer to almost any TV. The process may not be as easy and the picture not as sharp as a plasma TV or other newer kind of TV, but you may be surprised at the results that can be achieved with your existing television.
There are numerous benefits and reasons why you would want to connect your computer to your TV. You can check a players' statistics online while watching a sporting event, use your favorite music program to play your favorite tunes, show all of your digital photos or videos to your family, and even show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. Combining the computer with your home theater allows possibilities for the easy chair, that were once limited to the office chair.

Making the Connection

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Setting up a computer in your home theater is not generally as hard as some think. To get started, you need to be able to make a compatible connection from your computer to your TV. In the simplest case, your connection from the computer should match the connection on your TV. For example, if your TV has a VGA input and your computer has a VGA output, you need just a cable to connect both together. If there isn't a match of video inputs to outputs, it might still be possible to make a connection, but more about that later.
Let's start with the computer connection first. Examine the back of your computer for available monitor connections. Depending on your computer's graphic capabilities, you should be able to identify one or more of the following: a 15-pin VGA output, a DVI connection, or an S-Video output. Your computer could support one, two, or

all of the connections listed. If you are unsure, refer to the video section of your computer's user manual.
Next, you will need to identify the type of television you have. It will be either an analog or digital TV. If you own an analog television, look for an S-Video input. If you own a digital television, look for an S-Video, 15-pin VGA, component video, or DVI input. Many of the newer televisions, such as Plasma, DLP, or LCD, should have a PC compatible 15-pin VGA input.
Finally, we need to find a matching connection between the two. If you have a VGA or DVI match, use that for the best image quality and performance. If you have a component connection on your TV and a VGA output on your computer, choose those connections. Use S-Video as a last resort if you have no other choice, or are not as concerned about the video quality of your connection.
Before you begin, download and install the latest drivers for your computers video card. The newest software has options for making this project easier than it used to be. The most common graphics cards are the following:
  • Cards based on the nVIDIA platform. Drivers are available at nVIDIA.com
  • Cards based on the ATI platform. Drivers available at ATI.com
  • Cards based on the Intel Extreme Graphics platform. Drivers available at Intel.com
Always refer to your computer or video card manufacturer's website or before installing any software. Sometimes, drivers are available there. Do not download drivers for a graphics chip different from what your computer uses.

Connecting With S-Video

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To make this connection, you will need the following:
  • A computer with a S-Video output, or a VGA to S-Video adaptor
  • A TV with a S-Video input
  • A S-video cable
  • A 1/8" to Left/Right RCA cable (for sound)
  • A computer monitor (for setup purposes if needed)
If you do not have what's listed above, this kind of connection will not work. Some computers require a separate adapter to use the S-Video capability of your graphics card. In many cases, the adapter will need to be plugged in prior to making adjustments to the output settings of your graphics card.
If your computer only has a VGA output, you can still connect with S-video by purchasing a VGA to S-video adaptor, like the Kworld PC to TV adaptor. Using one of these greatly simplifies the setup process, and is virtually plug and play.


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Kworld PC to TV adaptor
Connecting with S-Video is the easiest connection to make from your computer. Though it is the only, and best, choice for analog TVs, S-video will yield the least desirable image quality on digital or high definition capable displays. The S-video connection will not yield computer quality image results.
If you cannot bring a computer monitor near your TV, and are not using a VGA to S-Video adaptor, you will need to perform step 4 & 5 from a remote location before you attempt to hook up the computer to your TV.
ImageConnecting With Your Computer's S-Video Jack:
  1. Connect the S-Video cable from the back of the computer to an S-Video input on the back of your television. Hookup the computer to the computer monitor at the same time. Connect the 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on your computer to the corresponding audio jacks on your TV.
  2. Change the input on your television to the S-Video input you plugged the computer in to.
  3. Using your computer monitor. Access the graphics card setup menu. You can usually access these menus by right clicking on the desktop, click on properties, select the settings tab, and then click on advanced. The software for every graphics card will be different.
  4. Locate the menu tab for engaging or disengaging the S-Video output, or a wizard for setting up your graphics adapter with a television. Once you turn it on, an image will appear

    on the TV screen. If there is a selection to make it your primary monitor, do so. On many notebook computers, there is often a keyboard shortcut to do this, such as Fn+F8.
  5. The image on the screen has a relationship with your resolution settings. Although all S-Video outputs use a fixed low resolution to maintain compatibility with your TV, it scales according to what the resolution of your computer is set to. Adjust your resolution in the settings tab of your display properties. Use a selection no higher than 800 x 600 with 16-bit color. A setting of 640 x 480 will be much clearer, but icons and windows will appear very large.
Once complete, you can disconnect your computer monitor. When you boot-up your computer, the S-video connection should be enabled. In some cases, the S-video output needs to be enabled on a per session basis. If your software reflects this, leave the computer in a stand-by or hibernation mode when not in use. Your current settings will remain intact until the next time your computer is shut down.
Connecting With a VGA to S-Video Adaptor:
  1. Before connecting your PC to the VGA adaptor, check to make sure that your display resolution output settings are within the capable range of the adaptor. Most VGA to S-Video adaptors are not capable of scaling resolutions beyond 1280 X 1024. Connect the 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on your computer to the corresponding audio jacks on your TV.
  2. Connect the VGA cable to the back of the PC, and the other end to the VGA input on the adaptor.
  3. Connect the S-Video Cable to the S-Video jack on the adaptor, and the other end to the television's S-Video input.
  4. Change the input on your television to the S-Video input you plugged the S-Video cable in to.
  5. Turn on the computer. You should get an image on your TV. If you do not get an image on your TV, double check your wiring, input selection, and resolution settings using a PC monitor. Also, double check to make sure your adaptor is plugged in, and receiving power.

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  6. The image on the screen has a relationship with your resolution settings. Although all S-Video outputs use a fixed low resolution to maintain compatibility with your TV, it scales according to whatever the resolution of your computer is set at. Adjust your resolution in the settings tab of your display properties. Use a selection no higher than 800 x 600 with 16-bit color. A setting of 640 x 480 will be much clearer, but icons and windows will appear very large. Your adaptor may also offer additional adjustments and features. Refer to your adaptor's user manual.

Connecting with VGA/DVI

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You can make a connection with DVI by following the same basic steps below. Substitute a DVI cable in place of the 15-pin VGA cable. If you are attempting to connect your computer's VGA output to an S-video connection, refer to Page 2 - Connecting with S-Video.
To make a connection with a 15-pin VGA cable, you will need the following:
A 15-pin VGA output on your computer (All PC's should have this)
  • A 15-pin VGA input on your television
  • A 15-pin VGA cable
  • A 1/8" to Left/Right RCA cable
  • A computer monitor (for setup, if needed)
Some (though rare) televisions may include a 5 wire RGB input (R, G, B, H, V) or 3 wire RGB (RGB with syncs on green). Do not mistake a 3 wire RGB input for component video. You can use this input to make a connection. However, you will need to obtain a 15-pin VGA to 5 or 3-wire RGB cable.
If you've identified a 15-pin VGA input on your television, you will need to do a little hunting in your television's display manual for compatible display and signal formats. 15-pin inputs on a TV could support RGB, component video, or both. In order to use it with a PC VGA output, it must be RGB compatible.

Compatible resolutions could be listed as resolutions or as letters; a chart is below to explain them. If your input is PC compatible, it will say one or more of the following:
  • VGA = 640x480
  • SVGA = 800x600
  • XGA = 1024x768
  • SXGA = 1280x1024
  • UXGA = 1600x1200
  • WVGA= 858x480
  • WSVGA = 1280x768 or 1280x800
  • WUXGA = 1920x1080 or 1920x1200
Your 15-pin input might not be directly PC compatible. If this is the case it will say one or a few of the following television formats. The compatible PC resolution is listed next to it.
  • 480i - not compatible with most PC graphic adapters
  • 480p - 720x480
  • 720p - 1280x720
  • 1080i - 1920x1080 (interlaced)
  • 1080p - 1920x1080
If your input does not list any computer formats, only television formats, it's okay! We can still get this to work.
If you're hooking up a Plasma, DLP, or LCD television you should be able to plug it in and turn it on. However, if you do this and get no picture, use a separate computer monitor to adjust settings before plugging the cable into the TV.
  1. Change the TV input to the appropriate selection to engage the 15-pin VGA input.
  2. Connect the VGA cable from the back of the computer to the computer monitor.
  3. Turn on the computer. An image should appear on your PC screen.
  4. Right click on the desktop and select properties. Click on the tab that says settings. If your television is PC compatible, go to step 5. If your TV is not compatible go to step 6.

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  5. If your TV is PC compatible, move the resolution slider to a compatible selection. 1024x768 is a common choice, but today's newer 720p and 1080p flat panels should support their PC signals in their native resolutions. Make your choice and hit apply. Go to step 7. Some TV's (particularly older sets) are only compatible at 640x480 or 800x600. If so, it may not be listed on the slider. Hit advanced, and select the adapter tab. Press "list all modes" and select 640x480, High Color (16 bit), 60 Hertz from the list of valid modes. Click "yes" when it asks you to keep this setting.

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  6. If your TV is not PC compatible, you will need to select a format that is compatible with your TV. Within the settings tab, click on advanced. Go to the adapter tab and select "list all modes." Select 720x480, High Color (16 bit), 60 Hertz from the list. Click "yes" if it asks you to keep this setting. Go to step 7.
  7. Unplug the cable from the back of the monitor and plug it in to the TV. If you made the proper selections, you should have an image on your TV screen. If your TV was PC compatible, you do not need to take any additional steps. Connect the 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on your computer to the corresponding audio jacks on your TV.
  8. If your TV was not PC compatible, you should have an image on the screen. It's likely that the icons are very big. Using the chart above and the "list all modes" selection, you can try to find different resolutions that are compatible with your TV. When selecting resolution, the screen will blank out. If the image does not return, you found an incompatible display format. Do nothing and it should switch back to the last setting after 15 seconds. TIP: you can make more choices appear under "list all modes" by going to the monitor tab and deselecting the box that says "Hide modes that this monitor can't display."
Once complete, you can remove the computer monitor. You will be able to shut down the computer when not in use, or use the stand by and hibernation modes. The computer will keep your current settings unless you physically change them, or install new drivers for your graphics card.
If you're having trouble finding a compatible resolution using the Windows Display Manager, check for additional software from the graphics chip maker that may offer more control options. From the Display properties settings screen, click advanced, then check the tabs at the top for additonal software from ATI, nVidia, or Intel depending on the graphics chip manufacturer. For example, here's a screenshot of the nVidia Control Panel.
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Connecting With Component Video

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To make this connection possible, you must have the following:
  • A digital TV with a component video input
  • A 15-pin VGA output on your computer
  • A high resolution capable VGA to component video transcoder or bundled component video accessory cable (A transcoder is a device that transforms RGB signals into component video signals)
  • A 15-pin VGA cable
  • A component video cable
  • A 1/8" to L/R RCA cable
  • A computer monitor (for setup)
If you have a computer with a component video capable graphics card, you may have received a component video cable in the box. If so, you do not need a VGA transcoder (skip to Section 2). If you didn't receive a cable in the box, but know that your graphics card supports component video output, your card maker may sell the necessary cable or kit to hook up your computer to an HDTV set separately. This will be significantly less expensive than buying a transcoder, and also more flexible and with better quality. Look for an alternate (typically round) connector next to the standard VGA or DVI output. If you see one, refer to your owners guide or card maker's website for details on what it is capable of outputting.
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If your card is not component video capable, you will need to purchase a high resolution capable VGA to component video transcoder or replace the graphics board with one that is component video capable (recommended).
Avoiding the "VGA to Component Video Cable"
ImageMany online discount stores sell an accessory cable that looks like it will connect a VGA input to a component video input. It's nothing more than a cable, and is often priced under $20. It's important to note that this type of accessory cable will not allow you to connect a computer to a TVs component video input unless the TV's component input is also RGB capable. Since there are few consumer grade TVs ever produced with this ability, this cable will not work for the majority of users.
"Why not?" you ask. Well, even though this accessory cable will allow you to match the physical connections for your VGA output and component video input, there's a significant difference in the signal format. Computers output RGB+HV signals, which is not the same as component video. This accessory cable ends up delivering RGB with syncs on green to the connected display, which nearly all televisions will not accept. I know, the connectors look like component video... but it's not.
So what is this cable for? This cable is most often used to connect component video sources (like a DVD player) to a digital projector. These projectors often sport VGA (DB-15) inputs that support both RGB and component video signals.
ImageSection 1: Connecting with a Component Video Transcoder
  1. Change the TV input to the appropriate selection to engage the component video input.
  2. Hookup the VGA cable from the back of the computer to the computer monitor.
  3. Turn on the computer. An image should appear on your PC screen.
  4. Right click on the desktop and select properties. Click on the 'Settings' tab.
  5. Identify the compatible scan formats for your component video input. The possible formats are usually 480p, 720p, and 1080i. It is common to find that many CRT based TVs, such as direct-view tubes and CRT rear-projection displays, don't support 720p.
  6. Since the component video input on your TV is not PC compatible, you will need to select a format that is compatible with

    your TV. Within the settings tab, click on advanced. Go to the adapter tab and select "list all modes." Select 720x480, 1280x720, or 1920 x 1080 (interlaced), High Color (16 bit), 60 Hertz from the list. Click "yes" if it asks you to keep this setting. NOTE: 1920x1080 (interlaced) is a very high resolution, which will make desktop items and text difficult to see.
  7. Unplug the computer from the back of the monitor and plug it in to the transcoder. Hook up the component video cables from the transcoder to the component video input on the back of your TV. If you chose a compatible selection, you should have an image on your TV screen. Connect the 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on your computer to the corresponding audio jacks on your TV.
  8. Depending on the display format chosen, you might want to try different choices to maximize image quality. In the "list all modes" selection, you can try to find different resolutions that are compatible with your TV. When selecting resolution, the screen will blank out. If the image does not return, you found an incompatible display format. Do nothing and it should switch back to the last setting after 15 seconds. TIP: you can make more choices appear under "list all modes" by going to the monitor tab and deselecting the box that says "Hide modes that this monitor can't display."
Section 2: Connecting with a bundled component video accessory cable
ImageIf you have an accessory cable, your card maker will have simpler methods of making an HDTV connection (compared to the Windows Display Manager) in their latest software driver packages. Before you begin, I highly recommend locating and installing the latest drivers for your graphics card.
  1. Change the TV input to the appropriate selection to engage the component video input.
  2. Hookup the accessory cable to the back of the computer, and the other end to the TV. Connect a regular computer monitor to the VGA or DVI output temporarily.
  3. Turn on the computer. An image should appear on your PC screen.
  4. Right click on the desktop and select properties. Click on the 'Settings' tab.
  5. Locate the graphics card managment software provided by your card maker. Sometimes it's an icon in the task tray, sometimes it's a tab in the 'advanced' area of the display manager.
  6. Identify the compatible scan formats for your component video input. The possible formats are usually 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. It is common to find that many CRT based TVs, such as direct-view tubes and CRT rear-projection displays, don't support 720p or 1080p.
  7. Since the component video input on your TV is not PC compatible, you will need to select a format that is compatible with your TV. In the graphics card manager, locate the area for managing displays, and look for an option to "connect to TV" or "Connect to HDTV". You should see a checkbox for enabling the component video output or a wizard for setting up your graphics card to connect to a TV, and should also find a variety of options to select the type and/or resolution of the display. Choose the best format compatible with your television. If you're not sure, try the different modes until you find one that looks best.
  8. Unplug the computer from the back of the regular monitor. Connect the 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on your computer to the corresponding audio jacks on your TV.
Once your component video connection is complete and working, you should not need the regular computer monitor. You should be able to shut down the computer when not in use, or use the stand by and hibernation modes. The computer will keep your current settings unless you physically change them or install new drivers for your graphics card.


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