How to Hook Up a TV to a Computer as an Alternate Monitor

Published: 15th January 2007
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My computer right now is hooked up to my 53" TV across the room. It's a pretty cool trick, and if you have a computer and television in the same room you should see if you have a way to hook them up. Doing actual work is best on a real computer monitor (LCD preferred, but CRT acceptable), but watching videos, playing games, and surfing the web are pretty fun things to do from the couch.

The resolution of TVs compared to actual computer monitors is pretty bad, unless you have an LCD tv. Mine is not, but even still I find that it is a very cool thing to have hooked up, and it works just fine for watching movies/videos. Games are doable if there isn't a lot of text on-screen that you have to read, but you won't be chatting to your buddies in World of Warcraft if you want to keep from going blind.

Word processing / web browsing is tolerable, but can be eye-straining after long periods. Definitely increase the text size as big as you can stand it for reduced eye strain. All in all, I just use my TV for videos because it's much easier to just sit at my desk and use my computer LCD monitor for doing actual work.

Most newer video cards have an S-video port on them, and this is the easiest way (and the way I use) to hook your TV up to your computer. Some newer video cards will also have other outputs, and some newer TVs will have VGA or DVI inputs to take a regular monitor cable. Just look at the ports on both devices and you should be able to tell if they have one in common, then you just have to figure out what they are. If they do not have one in common, look on your TV for an S-video port (it's a black circle about the width of your finger), and if you find one, you just need to buy a video card (they can be had for less than $100) that has an S-video out.

Once you have them hooked up with a cable (S-video or otherwise), you'll need to go into your driver settings on the PC. In Windows, right-click on the desktop and hit Properties to access the Display Properties window, then go to the Settings tab. On some video cards you can select/enable an alternate monitor (the TV) right from this window, but on most video cards you have to click the Advanced button and configure it there.

Most of the good video cards will let you display the screen on both devices (your monitor and your TV) simultaneously, but the geForce card I have right now will only let me use the two displays as side-by-side desktops. This actually works out better for me, because I can have news or whatever playing on the TV, and keep working on my normal desktop. I'm not sure if you've heard or seen it, but Bill Gates uses a triple desktop on his computer (3 LCDs) -- I hope you're as jealous as I am!


This article was written by Lucas Green,

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Claire Smith on September 12, 2011 said:
This is great! It could potentially save a lot of money and space!It is also very convenient to have everything on one screen. I had heard about people doing this but as my knowledge around TVs and computers is limited I had no idea how to go about it. This article has been so helpful to me, thank you so much.

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