The biggest challenges of connecting a computer to an A/V component is the connection type, resolution and refresh rate. Most of the time a computer is manufactured to be connected to a computer monitor and a TV is designed to accept connection from a video device like a Blu-ray Disc® (BD) or DVD player or a cable set-top box, a satellite receiver or a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In this solution we will look at these challenges and provide options to overcome these challenges.
Determining the available connections:
NOTE: While your connection options may be limited by what is available on the computer and the TV, one important thing to know is that the video quality displayed on the television will be determined by the connection method used to connect the computer. For the best video quality, try using one of the following connections: VGA, DVI, HDMI, or Component Video . Using one of the following connetions will work but the resolution or picture quality will be lower: S-Video and Composite video.
Depending on the ports available on your A/V component and computer, it may be possible to connect your A/V component to a computer. First, examine the TV and A/V component to see what types of video ports [FIG.1] are available.
If your A/V component and computer each have a matching video port, then you can simply connect both devices by using the appropriate type of cable. For example, if the computer uses a DVI port to output the video signal and the A/V component has a DVI port for receiving the video signal, then all you need to do is connect a DVI cable to both of the DVI ports; the same applies to the other types of ports. From this point you can move to setting the resolution and refresh rate.
If the computer and A/V component do not have any matching ports it will be necessary to do one of the following:
- Install a video card in the computer that has a matching port like the one found on the A/V component.
- Purchase a video converter or a cable adaptor.
- VGA-to-Component Video
- VGA-to-Composite Video
- Video converters can be purchased from local and online computer retailers.
- It is not possible to go from an analog signal like a VGA connection or composite connection to a digital connection like a DVI connection or HDMI connection without a converter. Unless you have a sophisticated video card and software on your computer that does the converting, we recommend avoiding cables that do not convert the signal. Discuss this with your retailer prior to making a purchase.
- Sometimes, when using adaptors and converters, it is necessary to make a separate audio connection because only the video signal is converted and sent to the device receiving the content.
IMPORTANT: When connecting a notebook computer, it may be necessary to press a function key -- the F7 key on VAIO® notebook computers -- or other key combination in order for the notebook computer to output the video signal.Unless connected to the A/V component using HDMI-to-HDMI connection, you will need to connect an audio cable from the computer to the A/V component. There are two types of audio ports [FIG.2] we need to look for: a miniplug or composite audio jack. If the computer has a line out miniplug and the A/V component has composite audio input jacks, use a miniplug-to-composite audio cable [FIG.3]. If the computer has composite audio output jacks and A/V component has composite audio input jacks, use a standard composite audio cable [FIG.4]. If the computer has a 3.5 mm line-out miniplug and the A/V component has a 3.5 mm line-in miniplug, use a miniplug-to-miniplug audio cable [FIG.5].
NOTE: The audio cables are capable of providing stereo sound (left and right channel audio) to the A/V component and are available from most local and online computer or electronics retailers.
Setting the display resolution:
Whether installing a different video card or using a video converter, it is important to make sure that the computer can output the video resolution properly. You should check the instruction manual of your A/V component and your television to determine what resolution is supported and then configure the computer accordingly in the Display Properties section in the Control Panel of the operating system. Some of the more commonly used resolutions for televisions are 640x480 and 800x600.
NOTE: Although the computer may be capable of outputting higher resolutions, the A/V component or the television may not be able to handle it. This can result in overscan which causes some of the screen information to be cut off or missing. On the other hand, it may be necessary to install software on the computer that supports higher resolutions. If you do not set the proper resolution the display screen will be blank or only the logo and menu may appear.
Setting the scan frequency or refresh rate:
WARNING: There is a risk of hardware damage. Using a scan frequency that is not supported can cause damage to the television or computer.
In addition to the resolution, the computer must also use a scan frequency or refresh rate that is compatible with the television. The refresh rate refers to how often the television or monitor changes the display of pixels per second. Common scan frequencies are 50Hz, 60Hz, and sometimes 75Hz.
The result of setting the computer to the correct refresh rate is a noticeably smoother image Computer monitors often times have refresh rates faster than 60 times a second, so a poor picture may result when connecting a computer to a TV withot adjusting the scan settings. When you scroll, the image will refresh fast enough to keep things smooth and you see the image flicker or go in and out.