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How do I connect my laptop to an HDTV?

Answer: Most modern laptops have at least one video out port. This port allows you to connect your laptop to another display such as an external monitor or an HDTV. Before you decide what cable to buy, it is important to check what type of video output port(s) your computer has (e.g., HDMI, DVI, or VGA). The next step is to check your TV's video inputs to see if you may need an adapter.

The best and easiest way to connect a computer to an HDTV is with an HDMI cable. HDMI is fully digital meaning there is no analog to digital conversion required. It also supports both audio and video, so you just need a single cable. Additionally, HDMI has enough bandwidth to support a full 1920x1080 high-definition signal.

Some laptops may have a DVI or Mini-DVI port, which is also a digital interface. However, Mini-DVI does not support audio, so you may need a 3.5mm to RCA (red and white) audio cable if you want to play the sound from your computer through the TV speakers. Since most TVs do not support Mini-DVI input, you may need an Mini-DVI to HDMI or Mini-DVI to Component adapter.

Older laptops may only have a VGA output. VGA is an analog connection and therefore can connect directly to your computer's composite (yellow) input or S-video input. A VGA to component adapter may also work, though it may not support the full HD resolution.

In summary, modern TVs and computers are both digital devices, so a digital-to-digital connection (like HDMI) is the best option. If your computer only has analog outputs, you may still be able to connect it to your TV, but you may need an adapter and the image quality may not be as good.

Published: July 18, 2012 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center