How to Hook Up a Laptop to a TV


Authored by Mike Bacon in Computer Hardware 
Published on 11-23-2009

There are several reasons why you might want to hook up your laptop to your television. You might want to play a game on the larger monitor, or watch a video you have downloaded to your laptop. You may want to share your photos on a larger screen. While you can certainly do these things with a desktop computer, the portability of a laptop makes it so much simpler. And how exactly do you do that?

Hooking up your laptop to your television is a lot easier than you might think.

Most laptops have an S-video output. (This is a round four pronged receptacle) Most modern television sets have an S-video input available. Get yourself an S-video cable, and plug your laptop into your television. That takes care of the video. Now you just need to add the audio. The best way to do this is to go from the headphone jack on your laptop to your audio in jack on your television. Use a 3.5 mm cable with male connectors on both ends.

Ideally, if your laptop and your television is newer you can use an HDMI cable. This will give you superior video and audio.

Suppose you have an older television that does not have an S-video input? The next best way to go would be to use an RCA cable. You know those cables that have yellow, red and white plugs on either end? Yellow is for video, and the red and white are for the audio. One is for the left channel, the other for the right channel.

You can purchase adapters that will go from HDMI to RCA or S-video or whatever combination you may need.

All right, now you have hooked the hardware up. How do you get the laptop and the TV to recognize each other? Depending on what operating system you’re running, you will need to go to your display options. There you will have to select a new, or in some cases a second monitor. Your laptop should have detected the television.

Now the laptop has found the television. You need your television to find your laptop. Generally the way to do this is in your television settings. Most television remotes will have a button that says input. Usually you can just press the input button until it finds your laptop. It may say Video-1, or it may say Line-1, or perhaps AV1 or AV2. It could even say Auxiliary Input. Whatever the case may be, here is an important tip to remember. Make sure that your laptop is not turned on until you have physically hooked up the laptop to the television.

Once you have connected the laptop to the television and both pieces of hardware have found each other, you may notice that your video doesn’t look quite right. You may need to reset the video resolution on your laptop. Many laptop screens may have a resolution of anywhere from 1024 x 768 to 1920 x 1200 pixels. An HDTV may have a resolution from 1366 x 768 to 1920 x 1080 pixels. You may have to tweak this a little bit to get the right resolution so that your laptop output looks right on your television.

By hooking up a few cables and setting some options on your laptop and television, you can find yourself with one of the largest digital picture monitors around.


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