How to use your TV as a monitor

View your PC video library on your HDTV

Here are your most likely options, from the best to the worst, if you want to hook up your desktop PC or notebook to your TV.

193898-0419hdmi2_original

HDMI to HDMI: If both devices have HDMI connectors, you're in luck. One simple cable will give the best picture and sound that your TV can handle.

If you don't get any sound, you may have to change Windows' audio output device settings. In Windows 7 or Vista, right-click the speaker icon in the system tray and select Sounds. Click the Playback tab and select Digital Audio (HDMI).

193898-0419dvi_original

DVI to HDMI: If your computer lacks an HDMI connector, it might still have PCI. With the right adapter or cable, this will work just fine. You can pick up DVI to HDMI adapters for less than $10.

These two standards send and receive identical digital video streams, making them easily compatible. The only differences: DVI carries no audio signal, and the connector looks funny.

The adapter takes care of the funny-looking connector, but you probably can't get sound from your computer to your HDTV if you're going over DVI. The television was built on the assumption that an HDMI signal would carry its own audio, so there may be no audio inputs associated with the HDMI connectors.

The solution is to bypass the TV speakers. If you have a separate receiver (a good idea in a home theater), plug your PC's audio output into that. You may need a Y-adapter audio cable with a one-eighth-inch stereo mini plug (like the one used by your headphones or earbuds) on one end, and two standard RCA audio connectors on the other. Or you can set up some computer speakers.

193898-0419vga2_original

VGA to VGA: If your PC lacks HDMI and PCI outputs, it almost certainly has a VGA connector. And I have yet to see an HDTV without a VGA port (which it may identify as RGB, PC, D-sub, or RGB PC). VGA can send any signal your PC and HDTV can handle.

At least, it can if you get it to work properly. Getting a good VGA signal on a television involves tweaking settings on both the PC and the TV. Start by reading the VGA section of your HDTV's manual.

How successful you'll be, and how much work that success requires, depends on your TV. My experience is that newer sets are pretty much plug-and-play in their VGA connection, but older ones give you grief. Some simply cannot give you a decent picture.

Not all HDTVs supply an audio input associated with the VGA connector. If yours doesn't, see the last paragraph of the PCI to HDMI section above.

193898-0419svideo2_original

S-Video to S-Video: If both devices have an S-Video connector, and they share nothing better, buy an S-Video cable and connect them. Then use a Y-adapter audio cable to connect your PC's audio to the audio inputs associated with the TV's S-Video connector.

This is a strictly analog, standard definition setup. Your TV will get nothing digital, and nothing HD. But it's simple and it works.

None of the above: If none of these matches work for you, you're out of luck. You're not going to get that particular PC working with that particular TV. Sure, you can buy a VGA to S-Video connector; I've tried several. I've yet to find one that worked.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags IPTVnotebooksdesktop pcs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?