How To Connect a Computer To Your TV (Page 3 of 4)
Connecting with VGA/DVI
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.
- Change the TV input to the appropriate selection to engage the 15-pin VGA input.
- Connect the VGA cable from the back of the computer to the computer monitor.
- Turn on the computer. An image should appear on your PC screen.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.