HDTV to PC: Can I Hook Up My PC to My HDTV - Going Analog or Digital?

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Hook Up That PC

The short answer to the question posed is “yes”, you can definitely hook up your HTPC up to a TV. The question is the type of connection you’re looking to make to your television, be it analog or digital.

Analog Connection to Your TV

Your computer, no matter how old it is, has a connection known as a VGA connection. This analog format was what was once used to connect monitors to the computer and the cable usually is a beige or black cable with blue connectors at both ends. While this standard still exists today, those who have the ability to connect their computer digitally will choose to do so because of the reduction in latency and reliability of the digital connection.

Most TVs that were made after the year 2000 have a VGA port on them, especially if they were higher-end televisions. Every LCD or Plasma screen sold today has a VGA port, and so do almost 99% of all laptops, unless the laptop has an HDMI connection.

To connect the computer to the television this way, all you have to do is plug in this blue-tipped cable to both the television and the computer. If you don’t get an image on the screen, make sure Windows recognizes that you have an external display plugged in, and this is easiest to do on a PC that has a built in screen, like a laptop. Or, if your video card supports it, plug in two screens at once and troubleshoot that way.

Digital Connection to Your TV

A Digital connection is where the future is in terms of computers and televisions. VGA is not a bad connection, but at resolutions of 1080p, the image quality will be undoubtedly better on a DVI or HDMI connection.

The DVI-D connection is simply an HDMI connection without the audio connection also included. These connectors are markedly different from a standard HDMI connector, but there are specialized adapters that can be purchased to transform DVI-D into HDMI and connect the PC to the television that way. This is currently how my setup is run – with a DVI-D to HDMI connector hooked up to a projector that then in turn displays the image.

If you have an HDMI port already pre-installed on the PC, you’ll be saving yourself the hassle of an audio-hookup by simply connecting both at the same time in a single port. Just plug in the HDMI cable into the PC and plug the other end into the TV. However, since the HDMI port is new territory for most motherboard manufacturers, expect less than ideal initial configurations. It’ll take you quite a bit of time to figure out how to make the PC boot into Windows using solely the HDMI cable, and for this reason, if you’re short on time, the DVI-D to HDMI connector and a TOSLINK Optical Audio connection will be much faster.

Conclusion? Go Digital

If at all possible, connect the television up to the PC via a digital connection. You’ll find the image quality is great, the cost of the cable is about the same as a VGA cable and the HDMI connector is much easier to connect than the VGA connector.