Connecting your laptop or personal computer to your television opens up a wide range of benefits. By connecting your laptop or PC to your TV, you can show your friends and family your collections of digital photos without having to print them out or have everyone crowding around the computer screen. You can also watch streaming video from the Internet on your larger screen TV, and if your TV is connected to a home theater system, you can watch movies from your computer in full surround sound.
Standard Definition Video
In order to connect your computer to a TV, you need to have certain components on each device. First, we will cover what you need for video output from your computer. If you wish to connect an older laptop to a TV, you will need to make sure your computer has an "S-Video out" port. This port is standard with most computers. Consult your computer's documentation to see if your computer has S-Video output capability.
S-Video ports are common on most TVs as well. If you do not have a TV with an S-Video input, adapters are available to convert S-Video to the yellow RCA cable. RCA cables are identifiable by the three standard colors used. Yellow is for video and both red and white are for audio. If your TV is older and does not contain RCA ports, you can connect your computer to one of the input ports on a peripheral device such as a cable box, VCR, or DVD player.
High Definition Video
For better quality video output or HD output, some newer models of laptops contain video cards with a DVI port. Most HDTVs have either a DVI or HDMI input slot available for peripheral devices. With the use of a DVI cable, HD video can be sent from your computer to your TV without loss of video quality. If your TV only has HDMI ports, a DVI to HDMI adapter cable can be purchased at most electronics stores. Some TVs also have 15-pin VGA ports. These are the same ports used to plug an external computer monitor into a laptop or PC graphics card.
Desktop PCs require a graphics card with TV output capability. There are three graphics card platforms available that offer Video-Out capability. The first is the NVIDIA platform. The NVIDIA graphics cards primarily go under the name "GeForce". The second platform is ATI, whose cards commonly go under the name "Radeon". The third platform is Intel. Intel primarily offers on-board video, where the video card is on the motherboard. Most of these video cards include tutorials for connecting your PC to a TV or other external video device and can be found in the tools/settings menu of the video card properties.
In order to get audio from your computer to play through your TV, all you need is a headphone jack on your PC and a 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable. Electronics stores such as Radio Shack and Best Buy offer a cord that has a 3.5mm plug on the end you would plug into your PCs headphone jack, and on the other end is a split wire with red and white RCA plugs that can attach to your TV's RCA input sockets.