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How To Connect a Computer To Your TV (Page 1 of 4)

-Updated 2/24/2009


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

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.

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