PC To TV, How to connect your computer or laptop to your TV
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By, Steve Hartfelder and Ryan Koskela or Diamond Case Designs, Inc.
For years computers have been an integral part of our life for word processing, accounting, graphics, communication and more. The last several years have seen computers take major strides to be a hub for our digital lifestyles; a storage place for our music, photographs, and videos. While the computer is an ideal multimedia platform it does have its down side. Computer monitors, particularly laptops, are small and the audio output is less than ideal.
To get the most out of the music, photographs, and videos stored on your computer or laptop you should consider pairing it with your TV and/or sound system. While this sounds like a simple solution, to crank your tunes and show off your latest vacation photographs, actually connecting your computer to your TV can be a tricky affair given the various cables and connections that are necessary.
Here we will show you several different "computer to TV cables" as well as a specialized device that will work for just about any TV or computer that lacks a specialized connection.
The Easy Solution - Computer To TV Cables
If your computer and TV have the right connections, hooking them together can be as simple as choosing the right cable. The following pictures will show you some of the common ways:
The "Universal" Solution - PC To TV Converter
If your computer and TV can't take advantage of any of the computer to tv cable solutions covered above you'll likely need a PC to TV Converter. The PC to TV Converter is designed to take the VGA output of a computer (which is nearly universal) and convert it into the most common connections found on a TV such as component video,S-Video, or even standard RCA video.
How the PC To TV Converter Worked
We tested the PC to TV Converter by connecting our Windows XP-based Toshiba laptop to a Mitsubishi LCD HDTV. Initially, we used the included VGA and component video cables. In addition, we plugged in the included power cable (the unit receives power from a USB or PS/2 keyboard connection, both options are included). Finally, we plugged a special audio cable into the headphone jack of the computer and, in turn, into the TV so we could enjoy sound as well as video.
As we first fired up the unit we were disappointed to have no picture appear. This was quickly resolved by going into the control panel settings for the computer and activating the VGA output. The image immediately appeared on our TV. We played a bit with the computers output options to get the best possible match between the computer and the TV.
While we did enjoy seeing the computer screen in the glory of a big Mitsubishi TV we did note that the smaller text on the screen was a bit soft and harder to read than on the computer. We changed out the included component video cable to a higher quality cable and did notice a slight (but visible) improvement.
Because of the soft nature of the smaller text and items on the screen I would not recommend this Converter for "reading" intensive tasks. If you are thinking of composing letters, working in Excel, Word, or Photoshop this is not the recommended solution. If you are going to do basic web surfing you'll want to increase the text size through your web browser menu. If you are looking for an easy way to get your multimedia files onto your TV this is a perfect solution for you. It is ideal to see your photographs and videos on your TV and you can to play your music or CDs (such as through iTunes).
If you are using a laptop this converter could be an indispensable option for you. You could keep it in your laptop bag and have the ability to share your music, photos, and videos with family or friends while you are on the go. Furthermore, it can be a key tool for presentations when you are unsure what connections may be available in your school, conference room, or board room. Having this nearly universal adapter can give you a "Swiss Army" knife style connection for the different scenarios you may come across.
The Converter comes with an infrared remote control that allows you to fine tune the positioning of the computers output on your TV. This can come in quite handy as the variety of resolution conversions you'll come across will likely not fill the screen perfectly. The remote also features a "Zoom" button that blows up the image to allow you to focus in on areas that feature smaller text. This did become helpful for some of the testing we did particularly when I needed to focus in on some of the soft text. I would have liked to have seen a multi-step zoom, but it is simple on/off circuit. The remote also toggles between NTSC or PAL output so it can be used just about anywhere.
Additional set-up instructions and troubleshooting information can be found in the attached PDF file.
Your best bet is to use a computer to TV cable, if your computer and TV allow. This type of connection offers the best possible output resolution. If you can use a DVI or HDMI connection you should enjoy a very high resolution connection with crisp, clean text even with small font sizes. I'm still not sure how much I would recommend doing extensive computer work on your TV but with one of those high resolution connections you probably could.
If your computer and TV don't "play well" together the PC to TV Converter will solve your problems. You won't get the crisp text you would enjoy with a direct cable connection but the Converter is good for basic web surfing (bump up the text size in your browser) and is perfect to free your multimedia files from the constraints of your computer. You'll definitely enjoy your photographs, videos, and music as they are proudly displayed on your large screen TV and heard on your home stereo system. We do recommend using a better quality component video cable as we noticed a slight but visible improvement. We also suggest getting a headphone jack to RCA adaptor so the computers audio can be connected to your home stereo.
Please use the links above if you would like to purchase one of these solutions. You can order now through our on-line store.