The biggest screen in your house is almost certainly that huge TV in your lounge, so wouldn’t it be nice to sink into your sofa and use your TV screen as your computer monitor? It certainly makes a difference when browsing photos or watching a video and it’s an ideal way to share your media with the rest of the family.
If browsing holiday snaps on the big screen sounds appealing then here’s some good news: connecting your computer to a TV – either using a cable or wirelessly over your network – is easy to do. You can find out about connecting wirelessly by reading our piece on turning your PC into a media server. To plug your computer into your TV’s display with a cable, read on.
1. Source the right cable
The first step is to make sure you’ve got the right cables for connecting your PC to your TV and for that you need to find out what connections you’re dealing with. The ideal scenario – and the easiest – is that both computer and telly have HDMI connections. Most modern Advent laptops and desktops include HDMI connections and it’s a one-cable solution, as HDMI carries both audio and video signals. If you don’t have a spare HDMI cable, Advent manufactures a wide range.
2. Other types of connection
If your computer lacks an HDMI port, you should still find it has either DVI or VGA . Any recent television set should also feature one or both of these, but if your TV lacks a connection to match your PC, you can pick up a cable adapter. Either way, you’re looking at a connection that will carry only the video signal. For sound, your TV will need an audio input that’s specifically marked for DVI/VGA connections. If you’re unsure about the connections you’re looking at, check them against these diagrams.
3. Connecting the cables
It’s best to ensure your computer is turned off before you connect the cables. HDMI ports will be clearly marked – just plug each end of the cable into the TV and computer and you’re ready to go. If you’re connecting a desktop computer using either VGA or DVI, make sure you use the right port. You might see more than one – if this is the case, you’ll need to use the port that belongs to your system’s dedicated graphics card. These video inputs will be in a separate group from the other ports at the back of your PC. Finally, connect an audio cable from the headphones output of your computer to the red and white audio input of your TV, using a suitable cable.
4. Tuning in your TV
Once the cable is connected, power up your PC. If all goes according to plan your PC screen will appear on the screen straight away. If not, you’ll need to direct your television towards the correct input mode. Press the input button on your remote control (the button will look a bit like the one pictured) and choose the correct option from the on-screen list.
5. Setting up dual display
Not seeing anything yet? You need to give your computer a nudge by telling it to send its video signal to a separate display. On a laptop, you need to hold down the [Fn] key then press the key that has a picture of a monitor on it. You may need to tap a few times before you see the display you want – wait a few seconds between each tap to give the signal time to adjust.
6. Different display options
If you don’t have a [Fn] key (or it doesn’t appear to work), right-click on the desktop then choose ‘Screen Resolution’. Your connected displays will be shown as 1 and 2 – click the ‘Identify’ button and the numbers will show up on screen to help you identify them. Click on a screen to configure settings for that particular display. Click the ‘Multiple Displays’ dropdown menu to choose how your displays are configured. For distraction-free use, select the ‘Show desktop only on...’ option for your TV to pipe the display exclusively to it. Once complete, click ‘OK’ and settle back on your sofa to enjoy your PC on the big screen.