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Laptop computer to TV Hookup
How to connect your notebook laptop computer to your home TV

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You need to do 3 primary things in order to view your laptop display on your home TV screen.

1) Connect a video cable from the laptop video output to the TV video input.
2) Connect an audio cable from the laptop audio output to the TV audio input or home stereo sound system.
3) Setup the laptop computer to be able to use your TV display.

Almost all laptop computers are designed to be able to use external displays. A laptop computer can have a video output jack such as an S-Video or a RCA composite video or a VGA port or a DVI port or an HDMI output and more. The video output port on your computer could be only a VGA output or it could have several options. It depends on what graphics capabilities your hardware has and this determines how you connect to a TV. Many modern HDTV display panels such as plasma and LCD have a VGA input port built-in specifically for computer hookup. So you can see that there are many possibilities and options depending on what type of jacks your laptop has and what type of jacks your TV has. Depending on which video output jack(s) your computer has, you can make a direct cable connection or use one of several types of adapters.


You can also make a wireless connection from laptop to TV using a set of wireless boxes, transmitter and receiver, such as the ones here from SewellDirect or here from D-Link and this one has component video, composite video and VGA.

Netgear Intel Wireless Display TV Adapter, Model PTV1000

The NETGEAR Push2TV is an easy-to-use TV adapter for Intel® Wireless Display Technology. Push2TV enables you to view whatever is displayed on your laptop screen onto your HDTV, wirelessly. With an intuitive setup and using standard WiFi technology, your laptop screen is ‘pushed’ to your big screen TV without the need for cables stretching across your room.

For Intel Wireless Display to run, Intel My WiFi Technology must be installed, and the laptop must have an Intel Core i7, i5, or i3 processor with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD. Windows 7 OS required.

Learn More from Intel here

* Experience your videos and pictures in HD on your big screen TV - No more crowding around a small laptop screen
* Sit back, relax, and experience music, pictures, or videos from your computer, home network, or online
* Surf the web from your couch - Access TV shows and movies online, or go anywhere a browser will take you
* Quickly and securely connect a laptop PC to a TV without cables
* Small and lightweight makes it easy to switch between TVs, or take with you when you travel

Caution: Always check compatibility of your hardware and software. Often you must have the newest operating system on your computer and the latest drivers installed. Other incompatibilities may exist. Investigate before making a purchase.


LAPTOP video and audio ports

Your laptop's video and audio output jacks are along the back, sides or front of the bottom section of the computer. Your laptop may have one or more of the following ports for video and audio:




Earphone Audio 3.5mm


Earphone Audio 3.5mm

You can buy cables already made specifically for connecting laptops to a TV. The cost should be under $15.
The cable below has a S-video and a 3.5mm audio on one end and on the other end the video to the TV and the stereo audio to the TV.

Cable to connect laptop computer audio output to TV or stereo receiver's audio input.
Stereo 1/8" mini jack-to-RCA plugs Y adapter cable.
Available for less than $10 at local and online retailers. Radio Shack part no. 42- 2551 Y-adapter audio cable.

Audio Cable has 3.5mm stereo plug for computer connection and at the other end is the two RCA plugs for left and right stereo channels.

Most laptops utilize a 3.5mm (1/8-in) jack as the line output connector and most TV and hi-fi equipment uses RCA type sockets for connecting audio components.

Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display

Stores over 3,000 Books with battery life up to one month. No computer required. Kindle 3G (Free 3G + Wi-Fi) is the easiest option because there is no wireless setup—you are ready to shop, purchase, and read right out of the box. Built-in Free 3G connectivity uses the same wireless signals that cell phones use, but there are no monthly fees or commitments—Amazon pays for Kindle’s 3G wireless connectivity. The added convenience of 3G enables you to download books anytime, anywhere, while on the go—without having to find a Wi-Fi hotspot connection. Wireless coverage in over 100 countries. The Kindle is the most popular electronic device on (Read over 4,000 reviews on this product) The Kindle is simply amazing.

What you need:

  • Laptop computer with VGA, DVI, HDMI or S-video output jack and audio output jack.
  • TV or HDTV with available video and audio input jacks such as VGA or HDMI or S-video.
  • Cable(s) for video and audio.

Connecting laptop to HDTV with VGA and audio cables

VGA male to male cable to connect laptop to HDTV.

The VGA cable is for video only, so audio connections will need to be made for sound, if desired.

Most HDTVs today have a VGA female input port for connecting personal computers. The color is typically blue and it has 15 small openings arranged in three rows of 5 each. Most modern laptops also have this female 15 pin video output port. What you need to connect TV to laptop is a male to male VGA cable. Each end has 15 pins which insert into both female ports on the TV and computer. These VGA cables cost about $15 or so.


Belkin F3H982-25 Pro Series High-Integrity VGA/SVGA Monitor Replacement Cable (25 ft.)
Constructed of 3 coaxial and 5 twisted pair cable to minimize cross talk, noise and other interference.
3 coax conductors for the RGB signal which maximizes color and imaging
Designed to support high resolution imaging and high speed
Fully compatible with the PC
Belkin Lifetime Warranty
Aluminum undermold shield helps meet FCC requirements on EMI/RFI interference
Double shielding to ensure compliance with FCC requirements
Gold plated copper contacts provides maximum conductivity with no data loss

Watch internet TV without a PC using Boxee Box from

    Connecting your laptop computer to your TV:

    To get an image on the TV, you must configure the laptop computer to display an external signal. Typically, this is done by toggling the "Fn" key + "Fx" where x=1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8. The actual function key varies with each laptop computer. Your laptop could be Function key and F8 key. Refer to your computer's User Manual for specific instructions for displaying an external signal. All notebooks should support an external monitor, usually with a high-density D-Shell 15 pin VGA connector, but some might feature a DVI connector instead. Newer laptops don't keep the external connector live by default, and some don't allow for simultaneous display on both the LCD and an external monitor. You can toggle between the notebook screen and the external display with an Fn key combination. The Fn key is located at the lower left of the keyboard, normally between the CTRL and the ALT key. Toshiba uses Fn-F5 to toggle between the laptop LCD and an external display. IBM or Lenovo uses FN-F7, Acer varies with the model, using Fn-F5, Fn-F3, Fn-F8, Sony Fn-F7, Dell Fn-F8, HP or Compaq, Fn-F4. There are variations with the age of the laptop and not all manufacturers have standardized on a key combo across the whole range, but you can usually figure it out from the little graphics on the function keys that line the top of the keyboard.

    The "Fn" + "Fx" toggles between three settings, laptop display, TV only and TV and laptop together. (Sometimes, laptops do not have enough power to show both the TV and laptop displays, so only a scrambled signal is viewable on the TV.)

    Matching screen resolution

    When you connect a TV or HDTV to your laptop, your laptop display resolution may need to be changed to match more closely the TV's screen display properties. Depending on your laptop's graphic output capabilities, you can try to match the TV's screen so that you see the proper proportions for text and images. Technologies are always changing, so consider the screen resolutions below as a guide only.

    1. VGA Video Graphics Array 4:3 640 X 480
    2. SVGA Super Video Graphics Array 4:3 800 X 600
    3. XGA eXtended Graphics Array 4:3 1024 X 768
    4. WXGA Widescreen eXtended Graphics Array 5:3 1280 X 768
    5. WXGA Widescreen eXtended Graphics Array 8:5 1280 X 800
    6. WXGA Widescreen eXtended Graphics Array 16:9 1366 X 768
    7. UXGA Ultra eXtended Graphics Array 4:3 1600 X 1200
    8. HD-1080 Full High Definition 16:9 1920 X 1080

    Your computer graphics card may only have the first three possibilities for screen resolutions or if you have a newer computer or newer graphics card, you may have greater capability to match the TV's native resolution. HDTV's can have 1920 by 1080 native resolution so only the newest computer hardware can match this video resolution.

    WARNING - Be very careful when adjusting screen resolutions and refresh rates as damage could result to your TV. Always read your owner's manual and follow the guidelines and parameters recommended. If in doubt, contact the TV's manufacturer before proceeding to ensure you are operating within the TV's valid parameters.

    For Windows PC's, go into CONTROL PANEL, then DISPLAY and click on the SETTINGS tab. Use the slider bar to set the screen resolution you want. Next click APPLY. For Windows Vista operating system, click START, go to Control Panel, click PERSONALIZATION, then Display Settings.

    Your screen resolution is the number of pixels in the width and height of your screen (width x height). A higher resolution results in a sharper image, but things will appear much smaller. When changing resolutions, you should consider the size of your monitor. Images may appear to flicker because your monitor can't keep up with the resolution and still provide a sharp image. 1024x768 is one standard screen resolution. 800x600 was a standard screen resolution. 640x480 is another, out of date, screen resolution.

    In addition to your screen resolution, you should also consider the number of colors to display. Adjust the slider to increase or decrease resolution, and then click "Apply." Windows will pop up an info and warning screen. Click "OK." The screen will go blank and then come back in the new resolution. Windows will ask if you want to keep the settings. Click "Yes" or "No". If you end up not liking the new resolution, you can change it back to the old setting. When done, click "OK" to close the display properties window.

    Refresh Rate
    If your screen looks very bright, you may need to adjust your monitor's refresh rate (this is the speed at which the monitor "refreshes," or redraws, the image). Standard television refresh rate is 60 Hz. To change the refresh rate, click the "Advanced" button in the "Settings" tab in the "Display" control panel. Read your TV owner's manual to determine your TV's possible refresh rates and DO NOT EXCEED the values.

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    Troubleshooting tips:

    If you have Windows Operating System,
    click START -- CONTROL PANEL -- DISPLAY -- Then in Display Properties click SETTINGS Then ADVANCED.
    In the MONITOR tab and the DISPLAY DEVICES tab, you can adjust properties if needed. In the DISPLAY DEVICES tab you should see both the TV and the laptop displays with check boxes you can fill in. Additionally you may require device drivers if you don't already have them installed in the laptop. Also in your laptop BIOS, make sure you have TELEVISION OUTPUT enabled and that you have NTSC selected for analog TV sets.

    Question: I have an older CRT TV, analog NTSC with composite video (yellow) input and I want to hookup my computer so that I can see the display from the computer on the TV. What do I need for this? Thanks, Tom K.

    Answer: There are several video adapters you can buy which will accept a VGA input from the computer and output composite video. Connect an audio cable from computer to TV for sound. One example of a basic adapter to do this is reviewed here.

    Question: Can I use a cable with a VGA connector on one end and a composite video (yellow) RCA connector on the other end to hookup my computer to my analog TV.

    Answer: No, this will generally not work because the signals are different. You need to use a converter/adapter unit to convert from VGA to composite video.

    HDTV with HDMI connection:

    A few graphics cards (video cards) have a HDMI port so you can use an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the HDTV. The key here is to install the proper drivers for the card (if not already installed on the computer) so that you can use the newer software attributes to fine tune the HDTV connection.

    One example of a modern laptop with HDMI output is:

    Dell Studio XPS 16
    multimedia laptop

    * Full 1080p HD support and premium ATI graphics.
    * 15.6" LED or optional 16" RGBLED seamless display.

    ATI Mobility RADEON HD 4670-1GB

    LCD Display
    Edge-to-edge Glossy 15.6 inch HD WLED display (1600x900p)
    Edge-to-edge Glossy 15.6 inch Full HD WLED display (1920x1080p)
    Edge-to-edge Glossy 16.0 inch Full HD RGB-LED LCD display (1920x1080p)

    • • Widgets

    No sound with HDMI

    A common problem with HDMI connections is the first time you try using it, you only get video and no sound. You must set your computer up so that the HDMI output is the default audio out.

    HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connector for connecting a TV.
    If you use HDMI to connect your display, you must activate HDMI sound by adjusting your Windows settings.
    If HDMI is not activated, you cannot hear any sound.

    Depending on your operating system software and your particular graphics card driver, you need to configure HDMI output accordingly.

    The following assumes Windows Vista operating system.
    Use the following steps to activate HDMI sound on your computer.

    1. Right-click the Volume icon in the lower-righthand corner or go into Control Panel, then Sound.
    2. Click Playback Devices.
    The Sound window opens.
    3. On the Playback tab, click the following audio output device that is listed:
    * Digital Output Device (HDMI)
    * Realtek HDMI Output

    * NVIDIA HDMI Output
    * ATI HDMI Output

    4. Click Set Default.
    5. Click Apply.
    * If you used Digital Output Device (HDMI) , click OK to close the window. This completes the steps to activate HDMI sound.
    * If you used Realtek HDMI Output , continue with Step 6.
    6. Double-click Realtek HDMI Output .
    The Realtek Digital Output Properties window opens.
    7. Click the Supported Formats tab.
    8. Place a check in the 48.0 KHz check box, and make sure that there are no checks in the Dolby Digital check box and all other check boxes.

    Supported Formats settings in the Realtek Digital Output Properties window

    NOTE: For most TVs to play back audio, the sample rate must be 48.0 KHz.
    9. Click OK to close the window.

    How to view NETFLIX on HDTV instantly via internet connection

    Instead of going to the store to buy a DVD or waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail from Netflix, why not view the movie instantly over the internet on your HDTV. You need a broadband internet connection, router (wired or wireless) and subscription with Netflix, plus an HDTV, computer and cables. Many people already have high-speed internet service with their TV provider and have an HDTV and laptop. Some even already have NETFLIX service and are getting DVDs in the mail.

    Netflix’s “watch instantly” streaming internet video service allows you to view a movie now without waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail. It’s easy to watch a Netflix movie on a computer screen, but now you can watch from the comfort of the couch on the giant plasma or LCD HDTV. You just need to hookup the computer/laptop to the TV.

    • Internet TV - video streaming

    • HP Laptops - Laptops with HDMI - HP G42t series

    The image below shows the ports on a modern laptop including HDMI.

    SELECT proper TV input source:
    You must select the source on the TV where the cable from the computer is connected. Usually the TV remote is used to select the source so that you get the output from the computer.

    Tell the computer to use the external display:
    Refer to your computer’s user guide for the specific keystroke for selecting an external display. On the HP Pavillion laptop for example, press Fn + F4 keys together to toggle between the laptop display, laptop and external display (TV), and external display (TV) only. On a Dell, the key combination is Fn + F7.

    Configure the sound output on the computer:
    With HDMI, you need to setup the computer so that the audio will output over HDMI. With a Windows computer, go into CONTROL PANEL and then into Sound and select the digital sound out so that the default is sound out via the HDMI port. Windows Vista O.S. allows you to TEST the audio so that you can hear the sound thru the TV speakers. Go into PROPERTIES, then ADVANCED and click on TEST. You can also adjust the sound volume. Other adjustments may also be needed in order to fine tune the sound such as the rate (48kHz) and setting DVD QUALITY SOUND instead of CD.

    Other adjustments may be required such as cancelling the screen saver and/or power saving modes/sleep mode so that the computer does not enter sleep mode or any kind of power save mode due to inactivity while you watch the movie.

    Speed of internet service:
    You need a speed of 6 Mbps or more to get acceptable viewing.

    Connecting home theater system speakers:
    Run a digital audio cable from the HDTV into your home theater system so that you get richer sound from the loudspeakers instead of the TV speakers. Adjust the volume.

    HDMI cables:
    HDMI cables should cost about $10 or so. The more expensive HDMI cables are nice but the cost is too much. Try buying HDMI cables at before going the $100 HDMI cable route.

    See also:

    • PC to Stereo hookup - how to play computer thru sound system
    • Audio cassette to computer hookup - how to record audio cassettes to PC
    • PC stereo hookup
    • Windows Sound Recorder

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