What Do I Need to Link a Computer and a TV?

By Alan Donahue

Computers and televisions are very different devices, but they can both be used for multimedia purposes, such as video watching, music playing and live television feeds. A television can also act as a computer monitor, displaying your desktop on the television and using your television in novel ways. Connecting the two can be a complicated process for older computers, but newer computers should not have a problem and you can complete the process in a matter of minutes.


The easiest way to directly connect a computer to a television is by using a S-Video cord. S-video cords provide better quality than RCA video cords and will make for the easiest connection. Look for your computer's S-Video output slot. This is a common slot among newer computers, but it may be rare for older computers. Older TVs will not have this slot either so you will have to hook up a VCR with an S-Video connection. Once the cord is connected from the TV to the computer, your computer may automatically recognize the connection. If it does not then you need to manually set up the connection by going to the "Settings" menu and looking for the display properties. Here you can either extend your desktop onto the TV or make the TV your main visual source. Extending your desktop means that you will be operating on two monitors. Your wallpaper will extend to the television while icons and other desktop material will stay on the first monitor. You can click and drag items and programs over to the extended desktop to view them on your television.


If the S-video port is not located on your computer, there are a couple of other options. You could purchase an S-Video port that expands through a serial drive or an USB port. Older devices, usually made for classrooms, provide direct connections for TVs and customizable display settings as well. This connection actually is controlled through the serial port into which a monitor is usually plugged.


An S-video port is a circular port featuring small pin holes for the cord to plug into. The S-video cord is typically a black cord, with pins on both sides that plug into S-Video ports. The cords are called "male" S-video plugs and the ports are referred to as "female" S-video ports. A serial port features several holes for a device to be plugged into and features a short top and long bottom with rounded edges. Matching the sizes is important because a bent needle could easily destroy equipment.


Connecting a computer to a TV can provide you with a larger viewing area than the monitor that you normally use. This can make the display bigger and easier for uses in video games or watching videos or streaming television on the Internet. This can also be used as a temporary replacement when your computer monitor has broken. Some connection software comes with a touchpad so you can interact with your screen and draw over objects using a stylus pen.


Along with connecting the visual aspect of your computer, you can also connect the audio to your television. To do this, you need a "mini-plug to RCA" cable. Simply connect the mini-plug to the speaker or headphone jack of your computer and then attach the red and white RCA cables to the audio inputs of your television. Make sure that the audio is connected to the same input choice as the S-video so that everything works smoothly.

References & Resources