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Jun 10, 2008

How To Use Your TV as a Computer Monitor

1. Identify your TV's input connections. Most TVs these days have three basic types of inputs. You have your coaxial cable input, the same as your cable box or satellite, an RCA composite input (the yellow, red and white inputs) and an S-video connector. Newer televisions might have Component Video, DVI, VGA or HDMI inputs but the ones listed above are more common.

2. Identify your computer's outputs. These days computer manufacturers are adding TV compatible outputs on their products so it's easy to hook it up quickly. The S-video in particular seems to be popping up on more and more computers. Mostly you will find the usual VGA output that the regular monitor hooks up to. The newer multi media computers of the near future will probably have all high definition outputs that connect directly to your TV, but for now we will deal with what most people have for both computers and televisions.

3. Find the appropriate adapter for your connections. You may need to get an adapter so you can hook up your computer to the TV. These have a VGA adapter on one end and (usually) a selection of hookups on the other (S-video, RCA composite and Component). The good thing about these is that you can take it from TV to TV and you'll be able to hook up to all of them. I highly recommend a wireless adapter. It costs a bit more but it's worth not having a big cable mess and not keeping your computer near your TV.

4. Connect your computer to your TV. If you have a TV compatible output on your computer, such as an S-video jack, just take an S-video cable and connect it to your computer and your TV. If you do not, then attach your VGA end of your adapter to your computer and use the RCA, S-video or Component Video cable to attach to your TV. After you've made all the connections, make sure you are on the correct TV video input. Press the input button on your TV or remote until you see your computer's signal.

Now, here is where you might get a little disappointed. Your TV's usual video signal is called NTSC (PAL if you live in Europe). This signal is different than the one generated by your computer. Computers use signals measured by pixels: 320x200, 320x240, 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 or 1600x1200. Most TV's can only get about 500 lines of resolution, in computers this is like 500 vertical pixels. The video amplifiers in televisions cannot handle higher resolutions either. So when you factor these things together you are left with a maximum resolution of 640x480.

This is not the worst thing in the world because you can play games and watch video in lower resolutions no problem. It's just that you will never get close to the resolution your computer monitor will give you. Beware of some adapters that claim to give you more than 640x480, they just reduce the quality of the original television signal to compensate.

You can get an adapter for an HDTV that will give you higher resolutions but you need an HDTV and an adapter that costs usually 2-3 times more than your standard adapter. Any way you choose, it is not hard to use your TV as a computer monitor if you follow the few steps above.

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3 Comment:

studyPark said...

Useful and interesting article indeed. good work. Keep it up.

budhie said...

Thanks for the comments

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