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How to Connect a Laptop to a TV via RCA, S-Video, VGA or HDMI

If you want to know how to connect a laptop to a TV properly via RCA, S-Video, VGA or HDMI.

How to connect a laptop to a TV

Many of the TVs available today feature built in Wi-Fi and many laptops now have incredibly high resolutions, but getting a super fast connection and great picture usually requires connecting the two for internet streaming. Alternatively, you may wish to watch a movie from the laptop’s hard drive or use the TV as an external monitor for work. Thankfully, there are many ways to do that and the connection is fairly easy to make.

Using an RCA Cable to Connect a Laptop to a TV


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An RCA cable, which may also be called a phono connector, typically has three round colored sockets. The cable can be used for video components and analog audio. Of the three sockets, the composite video is yellow, the right audio is red, and the left audio is white. Attach each prong of the cable to jack with the corresponding color on the TV. Set the TV’s input to RCA and make sure the computer is set to external display output. When using an RCA cable, keep in mind that many laptops are not compatible with RCA cables and require an adaptor of some sort.

Using an S-Video to Connect a Laptop to a TV


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An S-Video, or Super-Video, is the easiest way to connect a laptop to a TV, but using the S-Video with digital or HD panels usually results in a picture of poor quality. S-Video sockets typically have four, seven, or nine prongs. The four pronged cable is usually the most convenient, since it works with the five and seven pronged as well. Once the cable is properly attached, the connection should complete automatically and the image will appear on the TV screen. If it doesn’t, check the external display settings on the computer and make sure the TV is set to the correct input type.

Using a VGA Cable to Connect a Laptop to a TV


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On a VGA to VGA cable, the two sides are interchangeable (on an adaptor, they’re obviously not). VGA to VGA connections are incredibly easy. Simply plug one end of the cable into the laptop and the other into the TV screen and choose the appropriate settings. Laptops usually have VGA ports, as do newer TVS, but connecting a laptop to an older model TV often requires the use of an adaptor. In addition, if the laptop does not have a dedicated VGA port, an extra graphics card may be required. Alternatively you may use a DVI cable which works much the same way – although it will generally produce better quality than a VGA cable.

Using HDMI to Connect a Laptop to a TV

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HDMI, or High Definition Multimedia Interface, is the best option for connecting a laptop to an HD TV. When using HDMI, turn off both monitors before plugging in the cable. Plug the cable into the TV, making sure to plug it into the HDMI in port. Next, plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the laptop and turn both screens on. Once the TV is on, use the input button on the remote to select the HDMI input, but keep in mind that some TVs have more than one HDMI port. Once connected, the HDMI cable can transmit both audio and video for high definition picture and clear sound.

There are a number of different methods for connecting a laptop to a TV. The first step in deciding which method to use is examining the TV and laptop to see what kind of ports they have. After that, it’s simply a case of picking the best option for your capabilities.

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Published: Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 Last Modified: June 3, 2013

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