Connecting a personal computer (PC) to a television allows users to display computer data through a television’s screen. This data can include -- but is not limited to -- videos, images, slideshows, PowerPoint presentations and Web pages. The main benefit of displaying computer data on a television is it allows viewers to more easily see the data, as a television’s screen is typically larger than a computer monitor. To connect a PC to a television, you can use a variety of different cables.
IBM introduced the Video Graphics Array (VGA) connection cable in 1987. The cable relies on analog technology, which means it transmits video using a continuously variable -- or always changing -- electronic signal. A standard VGA cable has a 15-pin plug at each of its ends and can support screen resolutions of 640 pixels by 480 pixels. Apart from supplying image quality that is inferior in comparison to other video connection technologies, like DVI and HDMI, VGA’s primary drawback is its lack of audio support: a VGA cable will only transmit video from a PC to a television, not sound. To connect a computer’s audio to a TV while using a VGA cable, you can run a mini-phone connector cable, also known as a 3.5 mm or eighth-inch connector cable, between the two devices.
Digital Visual Interface (DVI) cables became available to the public in 1999. Unlike VGA, DVI relies on digital technology, which means a DVI cable transmits video by separating signals into binary code, or a series of 1s and 0s. A DVI cable is able to send this digital data by utilizing Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS). TMDS is a form of low-voltage differential signaling, with differential referring to the fact TMDS sends two complementary electronic signals as opposed to a single signal. The technology allows DVI cables to reduce electromagnetic interference and to achieve resolutions of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. However, like a VGA cable, a DVI cable does not support audio and requires an additional cable for transmitting sound.
Like a DVI cable, a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable relies on digital technology and TMDS for transmitting video. However, unlike with DVI -- and VGA -- an HDMI cable can also digitally transmit audio from a PC to a television. HDMI cables became available to the public in 2002, and as of 2011, the cables can transmit video from computers to televisions with better quality than any other cables available. An HDMI cable can support video resolutions up to 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels.
Establishing a Connection
After you physically connect a PC to a television using a cable, you will need to set the television to the appropriate input setting. You can accomplish this by pushing the input button on your television’s remote control and then selecting the VGA, DVI or HDMI tab, depending on the type of cable you are using.