What is the best way to connect my computer to my television?
This question was answered on July 29, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
On the surface, the convergence of the computer and the television seem to be a natural fit because of what most would consider to be very similar displays.
The reality is that computers and televisions display images in radically different ways, so most attempts to ?converge? the two are not very successful.
Television monitors display images in lines while computer monitors display in pixels or dots In order to display a computer screen on a television monitor, you have to 'smash' the dots or pixels into lines.
This causes the images to be very rough around the edges and reading text, unless it is very large is virtually impossible.
The only way to properly display a computer output on a television without all of the degradation is to purchase a television has a computer port, commonly referred to as a SVGA or computer RGB input.
This allows the television to switch to 'pixel' mode when you want to display the output from your computer, which eliminates the 'stair stepping' that would normally occur.
If you aren't trying to read text from the screen and are more interested in playing games using your large screen television as the monitor, the conversion method will work just fine.
There are two methods of pumping your computers output to your television, using the 'pixel smashing' converter method Either install a video card that has a 'TV out'
or S-Video output or install an external converter on your existing video card.
If you are really into gaming, most of today's gaming graphics cards include a composite video or S-video output that you can connect directly to any television with either input.
Two companies that specialize in TV-out cards are ATI (All-in-Wonder series - www.ati.com) and Hauppauge (Win-TV series - www.hauppauge.com) with prices ranging from $200 to $400.
The 'new card' solution requires you to remove your old video card and drivers then install the new card and drivers inside the computer.
If you want a less expensive option that requires less work, look for external 'PC to TV converters' from Antec (TVator series - www.antec-inc.com) For $50 to $100 you can plug in a box that will split the signal between your computer monitor and your television The TVator series also works on Mac based systems.
When it's time to go shopping, don't confuse the 'video capture' cards with the 'TV out' cards Video capture cards and devices, which are typically more readily available, are for capturing video from external sources into your computer.
These devices are most commonly used for connecting video cameras or VCRs to your computer so you can transfer video to a digital format in the computer.
Some of the more expensive video cards that have the ability to 'output' video to a television will also have the ability to 'input' video signals on the same card, so you can have both.
If at all possible, try to see what the output is going to look like on a television through one of these converters before you buy it Be sure to view both text and images so you can decide whether it's going to do what you thought it would do!
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on July 29, 2002