The question of connecting your laptop to your TV is one we're often asked, so we thought we'd put together the definitive guide to viewing and listening to all that media on your television.
We'll look at ways of connecting to the latest flatscreen sets as well as older CRT models, plus investigate wireless options, including streaming content from your laptop to your TV via your network.
How do I connect my laptop to my TV with S-Video?
The S-Video port is found on most laptops with TV-out functions, and can connect your laptop to both analogue and digital TVs.
It doesn't provide High Definition (HD) quality, and only carries the video signal, so you'll also need to hook up a separate audio cable - typically from your laptop's 3.5mm headphone jack - to the audio inputs on your TV.
Your TV will need one of two things: either separate S-Video and phono audio ports, typically found on the front of the TV, or a SCART socket found on the back. You'll then need to purchase an S-Video cable of suitable length such as this 2m cable, along with a suitable audio cable. If necessary, you can then purchase a SCART adapter to connect the cables to your TV.
DOUBLE UP: You'll need two cables - one for audio and one for video - if connecting via S-Video
How do I connect my laptop to my TV with a VGA cable?
Most laptops offer a VGA output, ostensibly to hook up to a monitor, but it can also be used to connect to a suitable TV too: some flatscreen models come with the requisite VGA socket, in which case a standard VGA cable coupled with an audio cable (see above) will be sufficient - if you're lucky, you can view HD content this way.
If your TV doesn't have a VGA input, then you'll need to purchase a converter box to take the VGA signal and convert it into S-Video. This is an expensive option (£83 from Lindy, for example) that only produces so-so quality on a par with S-Video connections.
ANALOGUE: Older laptops should offer at least one analogue video option - usually S-Video or VGA
How do I connect my laptop to my TV using HDMI?
If both your laptop and TV have HDMI ports, then this is the most convenient solution that produces the best quality: HDMI supports HD resolutions, and carries both audio and video signals in a single cable. Prices start at just £4 for a 2-metre cable. You can also purchase HDMI-to-DVI-D cables for a premium if your TV only has a DVI-D port.
However, in some cases with older laptops you may need to use a 3.5mm audio cable in conjunction with the HDMI cable to get the audio to work, especially if your TV only has a DVI-D port.
EASY OPTION: HDMI is the simplest and best quality option if both your laptop and TV have the required port [image credit: Wikipedia]
How do I connect my laptop to my TV using Windows 7?
Connecting your laptop to your TV with the right cable is often only half the battle. You also need to switch your TV's channel to the input you're using, plus configure your laptop to re-route its display through the TV. This may happen automatically, but if it doesn't you have two things to try.
First, look for a monitor icon on a function key - pressing this will cycle through the available display options. Failing that, right-click the desktop and select Screen Resolution to detect and select your TV's display.
SET DISPLAY: Set up your laptop's connection to your TV from the Display Settings Control Panel
How do I connect my laptop to my TV wirelessly?
You have a number of options here. You could opt to wirelessly transmit the signal from your laptop to TV via its USB port. Q-Waves Wireless USB AV Kit costs around £90. The receiver plugs into a HDMI or VGA port on your TV. Its range is 10 metres, but only works when the receiver and sender are in line of sight, effectively restricting your laptop to the same room as your TV.
An alternative is to invest in some kind of media player, which sits on top of the TV. If your budget is tight, and you don't mind transferring your video, audio and photos to a USB flash drive or external hard drive, the Western Digital Mini Media Player is a good option at just £25.
£85 buys you the WD TV HD Live Media Player which can also connect to the internet or your network via a wired Ethernet port (wireless is only possible with an additional adapter) to deliver content from your laptop or supported websites like YouTube and Flickr.
Other models cost more, but bundle additional content - to see what's out there, check out our media streamer reviews.
WIRELESS: Q-Waves Wireless USB AV Kit allows you to transmit your laptop's signal wirelessly to your TV
Liked this? Then check out 6 of the best media streamers compared
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