How To Plug a Laptop into a Flatscreen TV

Today, with the advancements in technology, you can now connect your laptop to a flatscreen TV and use it as your monitor. This is very useful when you are doing a presentation to a large audience or when you want to watch a favorite show even if you do not have a DVD player. There are certain considerations to be met, but if the ports on the TV and your laptop are compatible, then there is no cause for worry. Here are the steps to connect your laptop into a flatscreen TV.

1.    Check the connections available in your laptop and the flatscreen TV. There are 5 types of ports:

  • Composite/phono plug or RCA port - for analog video and audio components using 3 round, colored sockets - white for left audio, yellow for composite video and red for right audio
  • S-Video or Super Video - a 4-prong round plug is used for this more advanced analog video connector. There are separate red and white audio cables that are similar to RCA connectors. For laptops with high-quality sound system you do not need the audio cables. There is also an RCA to S-Video cable in cases where there is an RCA port in one and an S-Video port in another.
  • VGA or Video Graphics Array - carries analog video signals and graphics and display data. This uses a 15-pin connector. You will need a PC to TV converter if you have this type of port which is USB powered. You plug the VGA cable from the laptop to the converter and the S-Video or RCA cable to the TV.
  • DVI or Digital Video Interface - this is a rectangular 24-pin device for digital video with separate RCA analog audio cables. This is mostly found in Mac laptops.
  • HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface - this is about half the size of a DVI port and has 19 pins and provides both digital video and audio, found in newer laptops and new high-definition TVs.

2.    You have to buy some video cables. Most laptops have and S-video port. It can be connected to the S-video input of a flatscreen TV with an S-video cable. This is a round cable with a 4-pin or 7-pin tip. This will give a lower picture quality. For better picture quality, use the laptop’s VGA ports if your flatscreen TV supports the port for a DVI to HDMI cable. Be sure to connect the cable while the TV is turned off, as oftentimes the TV will not recognize display from external sources.

3.    For a Windows Vista operating system, open the Display Settings and activate Output to the TV Screen. You have the choice to extend the display and use the TV as a dual monitor or mirror the content of your laptop.

4.    Use your flatscreen TV remote to switch to External Inputs from the menu and change the default Video 1 to a different setting like Video 2 or HDMI 1. This will depend on the connection you have used for the laptop and the TV.

5.    Change the TV resolution from your Control Panel > Display Settings so that the picture will not be distorted. Ensure that the screen aspect ratio and pixel resolution of the laptop and the flatscreen TV are compatible. Check the user manuals of both gadgets.

Solve compatibility issues first and get the right cables to connect your laptop to a flatscreen TV. Use adaptors if the ports between the laptop and the flatscreen TV are different. Check that the resolution of both the laptop and TV are compatible also so that you can have a great time watching or presenting something on a larger screen.


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