Easy Ways to Connect a Laptop to a Projector & Play Video From the Laptop

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Videos provide interactive ways for businesses to orient and train employees, provide support information for customers and help persuade prospective clients to try your products or services. If you create or download informative videos on your laptop, playing them so they are viewable to crowd is often difficult because of the small screen size of the notebook computer. Therefore, if you want to show your videos to a larger audience, you should connect the laptop to a projector to display them big enough for all to see. Connecting some laptops to a projector is easier than with others. However, regardless of the type of laptop you use for business, there are relatively easy-to-implement solutions for making the connections and displaying your movies in a large-screen format.


Laptop Video-Out Ports

With most standard laptops -- not tablets or netbooks -- the easiest way to connect a projector is simply to use the video-out port found on most models. You don't need any special software drivers or configuration utilities when using the video-out port; just connect the a regular DVI or VGA male-to-male video cable to the projector and the laptop. Most laptops have a special key combination, such as "Fn + F4," to toggle the display between the laptop, the projector or on both screens simultaneously. With Windows 7, though, you may not need to use the special function keys to toggle the display, as the operating system usually detects the projector and configures it as a duplicate or mirror display automatically.

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Docking Stations

While many laptops ship with a video-out connector on the rear, some smaller sub-note-sized laptops and most tablets or netbooks do not. For these types of computers, the manufacturer may produce a docking station that includes ports not found on mobile computer. Extra ports included on the docking station could include serial and printer ports, an Ethernet port, additional USB ports, a PS/2 port and a VGA or DVI video-out connector. Connecting the projector to the docking station is the same as connecting one to a laptop with a video-out port; just connect the video cable between the two devices. After you insert laptop into the docking station and power it on, you can use the projector or an external TV just as you would with any computer that has an additional video-out port.


USB Video

If you want to stream a movie to a projector from a laptop that already has an external monitor attached, or one without a video-out connector, you could just unplug the monitor cable first. However, relatively inexpensive USB video adapters allow you to add video-out ports to virtually any laptop within a few minutes. You can purchase adapters with DVI, VGA and even HDMI connectors that you use to connect external monitors, TVs or projectors. Setting up a USB video adapter involves only connecting the device to the computer and installing the device driver from the included disc. Windows then recognizes the USB adapter as a standard VGA video device and you can connect the projector or external display. USB video adapters are very convenient in that -- depending on the speed of your laptop -- you can usually install four more of the devices without much degradation to system performance. While prices for USB video adapters vary, they are usually much cheaper than a docking station for a laptop or mobile computer without a video-out connector.



Playing the Video

Regardless of the method you use to connect your laptop to a projector, playing a video on the computer and streaming it to the large screen is the same. You don't need any special software to play a movie on your laptop, as the built-in Windows Media Player application has everything you need to play movies files saved on your laptop or DVD movies on disc. You can opt to you choose to use the default duplicate (mirror) display in Windows for viewing both the laptop and projector screens simultaneously, or you can press the "Windows - P" keys to the multi-monitor configuration panel. In multi-monitor configuration panel, you can choose from different display options such as Computer Only, Duplicate (mirror), Extended and Projector Only. If the laptop is connected to the Internet, you can even view Web movies and videos on the projector screen simply by dragging and dropping the window on to the secondary display if in Extended mode or just by opening the video player in the browser if in Duplicate display mode.



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