In their search for entertainment, many people have cut the cable (or satellite), preferring to get their programming off YouTube and other Internet sites for little or no cost. However, they don’t always want to consume that content off the smaller screens that come with laptops and other devices. The solution? Keep that big TV working by feeding it directly from your laptop. There are several ways to do this, and it’s simpler than you might imagine.
Get Wired Up. The easiest way to connect your laptop to your television is with a cable that hooks into each device. Most laptops built over the last half-decade have an HDMI port (which stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface”). The HDMI port looks like a longer and thinner version of the USB port that you’ve probably used for flash drives, printers, and other devices. Most HDMI cables are inexpensive, and the port on your TV should be easy to find. Connecting the two devices is no more difficult than using an extension cord.
Set your TV to the correct input for HDMI, and the laptop should automatically configure to provide the best settings. If your laptop does not automatically output its screen to the TV, go to your laptop’s Control Panel > Display > Adjust Resolution. Select the TV in the drop down box that appears. You will also have the option of using different resolutions. Try the recommended version, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can fiddle with other settings.
Cable Up an Older Laptop. If you’re using an older laptop that doesn’t have an HDMI port, your answer might be VGA port. No, this isn’t a professional golf organization. It’s a different kind of port that is roughly rectangular with 15 pins in three rows of five. VGA cables only provide the video output, so this method requires a second cable (what’s called a 3.5mm lead), which plugs into your TV and into your laptop’s headphone port.
While HDMI and VGA are the two most common cable types, sometimes your laptop or TV will need a different cable, such as a DisplayPort (which carries both video and audio) or Composite Video (another video-only cable that requires a second video for the sound). If you’re puzzled about your ports, you can see images of the most common connections on line.
Of course, your computer and TV might not have the same type of connection. For example, your TV might sport an HDMI connection, but your computer has a DisplayPort. No need to toss up your hands in frustration and settle for the radio. You simply need to buy an adapter, an inexpensive device that has a DisplayPort connection on one end, and an HDMI connection on the other end. (There are adapters for most other combinations as well.) Place the correct connection of the adapter into the cable that feeds into your laptop, and plug the other end into your TV.
Like the HDMI cable, your devices should automatically recognize each other. If not, go into the control panel and adjust the settings just as you would with an HDMI cable.