The Definitive Guide To Connecting PC/Laptop to TV/HDTV/LCD

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There could be various reasons for connecting your PC or Laptop to that old TV or the new HDTV you got recently. You might want to enjoy High Definition YouTube videos on the large screen…or skim through your collection of pictures may be…or watch a powerpoint presentation on the large screen…there could be so many reasons really.

We wish connecting your computer to the TV was a straight-forward process. Just hook the cables, and you’re done!…we wish we could say that. There is much more to this process and hence we’ve come up with this comprehensive guide. And here we go!

Things you need to check

Before connecting your PC to your TV you need check for input connections (or video inputs) available on both of them. These video inputs or components accept the video signal from other devices such as a DVD player, Blue ray player or a computer.

You can locate them by looking at the back of your TV and computer (if it’s a laptop, look at the left or right side). Check for the following ports.

HDMI ports

This port is available on all the new HDTV (Digital) sets. But you won’t find it on all computers or laptop.

HDMI-port

DVI port

Mostly available on LCD TVs (Digital). It is generally present on most of the laptops and desktop computers.

DVI-port

VGA port

You can find them on most of the laptops and desktops. Again, this one is generally found on LCD TVs.

VGA port

S Video

Found in old TV sets. Available on most of the PCs and laptops. But carefully check the number pins. It comes for a 4 pin connector and 7 pin connector.

S-Video1 port

How to Connect the Laptop or PC to the TV

If your computer and TV has any one of the above mentioned ports then you can easily connect them with the help of cables.

Let’s say you have High definition LCD TV. It should definitely have a port that supports HDMI cable. It may be possible that it has some other ports too (DVI or VGA). On the other hand, if your PC or laptop is old and it doesn’t support HDMI,  then your TV cannot be connected to your PC using HDMI cables. You would need to use DVI to HDMI connector or VGA to DVI cable. We will discuss them a bit later.

Before jumping to the connection process, let’s have a look on all the possible supported cables through which we can connect a PC to our TV set.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

This is the most promising audio video connector. Every new HDTV has HDMI inputs. HDMI is a digital connection in which high-definition video and high-resolution audio is transmitted over a single cable. It transfers data digitally. The video and audio quality it delivers is awesome. You can get one of them for around $20 to $30.

HDMI cables

DVI (Digital Visual Interface)

It is used mainly in the older LCD TVs. Unlike HDMI, it doesn’t have both video and audio interface (only video interface). Since it supports digital signal only therefore it gives better video quality. It costs about $14-$15.

DVI cables

VGA 15 Pin Connector Cable

You can find VGA port (3 row, 15 pin connector) on almost all the HDTVs. In old TVs, you will rarely find it. The cost of this cable is quite less in comparison to other cables. It costs approx $5.

VGA cables

S Video

S video port is the most common port among TV’s. S video cables come in 4 pin and 7 pin formats. Check your computer port for the number of pins and use the cable accordingly.  This is the cheapest cable in the list. You can easily find it in the market. I will suggest you to use above mentioned cables (if the corresponding ports are available) because video quality served by this cable is not that great.

S-Video cables

What if you don’t find any matching ports on your computer and TV

Let’s say your TV has an HDMI port but your laptop only supports DVI or VGA ports. In this case you can do two things.

1. Use DVI to HDMI Cable

This is a special cable, or you could call it a connector, made for those who want to connect PC to TV but their PC lacks HDMI port. This cable has a DVI port (for connection with PC) at one end and HDMI port (for TV connection) on the other. You can get it for $5-10.

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DVI to HDMI cable

2. Use VGA to DVI cable

This can be used when your TV has a DVI port but your PC doesn’t. If your PC has VGA port then also you could connect your PC to TV using this cable. Its costs about five to ten dollars.

VGA to DVI cable

3. Use a PC to TV Converter Box

If you can’t find any dedicated computer connector for your TV then you can purchase PC to TV converter box (here’s an example). It converts VGA output of your computer to standard TV video input. The screenshot of this device is given below.

See the VGA IN port of the box. Here you have to connect your computer using a VGA cable. It converts video into different TV outputs. You can connect it to your TV using any supported connector cable.

PC-to-TV-converter

Image : Amazon

Final Connection

You know about ports and you know about the cables. Only thing you need to do now is connecting the cables (HDMI, DVI, VGA or S video) into ports on your computer and TV.

Before you start connecting, turn off your TV and PC (or laptop). Suppose you are connecting your PC with TV using 15 pin male to male VGA connector. Insert the male plug into female port in both your PC and TV. Now start your TV and computer.

This is a nice video demonstrating the process.

Do I need to do something else?

Yes, the process is not finished yet. You have to look into your computer screen resolution and aspect ratio settings. Make sure that screen resolution of your computer matches with that of your TV. If it is not matched then it will result in poor video quality. You can check screen resolution of TV in the user manual that comes with it.

To select the correct screen resolution, right click on your desktop and choose “Personalize” from the context menu (for Windows Vista and Windows 7).

desktop-setting

Click on “Display settings”.

display-setting

Now move the slider to adjust the screen resolution. It should be matched with the screen resolution of your TV to get better video quality.

display-setting1

Also you need to open your Vista display settings and connect it to other external display.

Right click on your desktop and select “Personalize” from context menu.

desktop-settings

On the left pane, click on “Connect to a projector or other external display”.

computer-projector

If you’ve got Windows Mobility Center then you could use it (click on  “Connect display” ) for quick connection.

windows mobility center

So, that was about connecting your computer/laptop/PC to your TV or HDTV. Do you have any experience in connecting your PC to TV? Did you face any problem while doing that? Do you know of any other methods or tricks to do so? Do let us know in the comments. Also, feel free to ask any questions or doubts you might have regarding the process.

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  • alok

    nice article dude.can u tell me how can we connect to tv if there is only rf input and av input pins are available on tv panel.

    i want to connect my car’s lcd with my laptop
    is it possible to connect it?

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  • Anshul

    1st i ll say i just loved dis article..
    2ndly i have 3 queries..
    1) i got 15pin female VGA port and 7 pin S video port…are both of them given for the same purpose??
    2) I m using windows XP and couldn’t find any option of “connect to a projector or other external display”..can u tell me where ll i find this option or am i missing some driver??
    3) TV converter box seemed me 1 gr8 tool…as its an ultimate solution finally.. :D
    but what its cost approx. ??

    • Himanshu

      Thanks Anshul for the feedback. Here’s a quick reply for your queries:

      1) If you got both the ports on your TV or computer then prefer VGA port because it will give you better video quality.
      2) In XP, I don’t think any extra settings is required. Why don’t you try and share your result with us? :)
      3) Regarding PC to TV converter box, its Amazon price is $33 (link given in the article). I suggest you to search on ebay too.

  • Anshul

    thnx 4 all d info..
    Dn’t have access to TV right now..ll post my experience as soon as i try it.. :)

  • Mohit

    Hi,
    Thanks for the great article! It’s a great starting point.
    My laptop has VGA output + regular audio headphones jack.
    My TV has the inputs – VGA, SCART, S-Video, RCA/phono, DVI-d.
    I’m looking for the best quality connection (irrespective of cost), but keen to have just 1 wire if possible.
    1) Does my laptop’s VGA output contain audio information only? Or does VGA mean video only?
    2) If yes, then
    (2a) do I need a special VGA to VGA cable to transmit audio as well? Or will any VGA to VGA do?
    (2b) and does the ability of a VGA to VGA wire (to support audio) depend on software settings as well?
    3) If no, then do I need a separate connector: audio jack (on laptop) to RCA/phono (2 plugs for stereo sound on TV)? I am keen to
    Thanks a lot in advance!

  • Jason_streamauto

    As there, I would like to know what should I do as my lcd tv only gets my computer’s wallpaper display on the screen when connect my laptop with window Xp using hdmi cable. Thanks

    • Karl

      I see that your post is old – I hope you check back and read this. It looks like your laptop is using the TV as a second monitor. If you slide your mouse pointer off the main screen to the left or the right, probably the right, you should see it on the TV. If this is the case, you can use it as an extended desktop – drag documents over there, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Wright/514677738 Simon Wright

    Good guide, thankyou

  • All_Clear

    Very helpful for confusing subject. Thank you!

  • Alan

    My laptop and TV have both got 15 pin MALE connections.
    Can I get female connectors?

  • bluesborn

    I am wonder which component should be turned on first after making the connections-the TV or laptop,or does it matter?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Milord-Cutter/100003246375415 Milord Cutter

    It would be extremely helpful if you would explain whether the audio is transmitted with each of the options you mention and, if not, how the audio signal can be accomplished.

  • Rav

    That’s great and I was wondering if you would know how to redirect display to TV when operating system is not installed in the PC or when PC is newly built and do not have operating system installed yet.

  • khaos

    hello, my laptop has a female vga input connection. my tv has both a female and male vga connections. I want to know if I can connect the laptop using a male / female vga cable or must i use a male / male cable for that?

  • Risto

    When i connect my TV (40” Sony Bravia 3D HX800) to Laptop via VGA everything is ok. But when i plug
    the laptop to the charger, the picture on the TV gets fuzzy (like the
    refresh rate is out of sinc). Any suggestions how to fix this?

    • Dani Silva

      This is an “earth connection” problem common in many laptops. Try isolating the earth connector in your power cable with scotch tape. It worked for my HP TX2000

      • Risto

        Thanks, already solved it :) I just used a splitter, which has no grounding, as simple as that :) But thanks any way!

  • Ann

    What’s the purpose of this Rabbit TV USB if I still have to connect my laptop to the TV? I might as well watch my shows on TV rather than on the laptop…

  • Ann

    I thought the purpose of this gadget is so one can watch the TV shows anywhere using the laptop.

  • Sharon Cole

    Hi
    I am having trouble connecting my laptop PC to my LCD TV.
    I am using hdmi cable both devises have points. I connected using function key and manually and it still won’t connect. I have been able in the past to connect.
    Hope you can help!
    Regards
    Sharon

  • aihan

    i have try the vga pc to vga lcd tv, unfrtunately it only works for video…the sound only occur at my laptop…how can i manage that problem?

    • jjws600

      Hi, VGA is a video only adapter. Next to your plug on your tv is there a small plug like a headphone hole?

  • nomad7722

    I brought a VGA cable pc tv and I have a picture, I have sound. but the problem arises in the video. even when I’m watching a movie with usb, pictures constantly twitching. using XP by the way

  • Calmin

    can some tell me if vga to rca works??

  • o’l mike

    for a led 32″ hdtv there should be a way to connect usb2.0 with software for high quality “sound only”and a simple vga connection or s/video

  • RKC

    Bro I have a graphics card (with 2 DV-I port only) in my pc and i want to Connect my pc through it. also i want to connect my 5.1 sound system to my pc through my led tv. so i can’t get how i convert my DV-I & 3 RCA Cable Input in Single HDMI Cable. any option

  • Josh

    Is there any way I can run the rabbit off a wii or plug it directly in tv and use my iPad as a remote ????? Please give feedback

  • Mohammed Shakeel

    Hi there I have a black screen on my laptop and I am trying to connect the laptop to my tv via VGA so I can troubleshoot can anyone help how do I get it to mirror, as I can see nothing on my laptop

  • Deepak

    My computer have VGA port & my LCD have HDMI port. so how i connect ???

  • george

    i have install my laptop to my lcd tv first i connect the lalptop vga to vga on my video converter(vga to hdmi) and then i connect the hdmi to the tv hdmi hand nothing has
    happen. so i install the laptop vga to the vga on mt tv and nothing happen too what i’m doing wrong believe me is like some kind a witch is insided

  • Arsany Osama

    okay i have a VGA port in my pc and HDMI port in my HDtV and i got the cable that has vga port and hdmi port but it still not working :(

  • Dan

    i went through the connection process numerous times . All imgetting is a blue screen on the laptop and it reboots . Does this really work , or whats the story?

    • jjws600

      Graphics card failure

  • roger pollock

    Can I link my PC VGA to TV HDMI, have tried with no success

    • jjws600

      Analog to digital, so… no. I feel your pain

  • James

    My PC doesn’t have any HDMI, DVI, VGA or S Video ports… what can I do?