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Hooking up your laptop or desktop computer to the PC - Streaming a picture from desktop/laptop to TV

This is a question that gets asked a lot - how do I stream a picture from my laptop or desktop TV to my computer? First, we need to define exactly what you want to do. You want to be able to control what shows up on your PC from your desktop or laptop. Let's define this properly, because there are many ways to accomplish this.


1> You want to hookup your desktop PC to your TV directly, with no other monitor.
2> You want to hookup a monitor to your desktop PC, but also have a TV hooked up. And you want to control the output (display) of that TV from your computer.
3> You want to hookup a laptop to your TV, and the TV to show whatever the laptop is showing.

Mostly, this is used to watch movies on your big screen TV. Now, let's define the different ways of accomplishing this.



1> You want to hookup your desktop PC to your TV directly with no other monitor

To accomplish this, you'll need a fairly newer PC system. This does not mean you need to go out and buy a whole new PC. You will need a computer with a motherboard that has a PCI-E slot, so you'll need a PC that is no more then 4 years old. I recommend a dual core or quad core CPU. Also, I highly recommend 4 GB of RAM. Systems with 2 GB of RAM or less often have what you call, 'lag,' this is slow or choppy video when attempting to watch, because the system cannot handle it. You need a higher end video card, too. If your HDTV (and this only works with HDTVs so don't bother with standard def TVs) has HDMI, HDMI is the easiest and most cost effective method. I recommend a video card with at least 1 GB DDR2/DDR3 memory. A 512 MB card is really not going to be good so don't bother with that.

Now, assuming you have all this - get an HDMI cable and plug one end of the HDMI cable into your HDMI out video card. Plug the other end of the cable into the HDMI IN port on the back of your HDTV. Now, switch the INPUT on your TV using the remote and hitting the INPUT button until the TV is set to the same HDMI port as what's plugged in - it could be HDMI 1, 2, 3 etc. Depending upon how many HDMI slots you have on your TV.

2> You want to hookup a monitor to your desktop PC, but also have a TV hooked up. And you want to control the output (display) of that TV from your computer.

Ok, now this one gets a little tricky. First of all, you'll need a video card that supports dual display. There is
more then one way to do this. You could get a video card with dual DVI, and run two DVI monitors (one on each port). You can hook up a monitor, and also have an HDMI TV hooked up. The part that gets tricky is, do you want the same picture on both displays. Or do you want one display to show one thing and the second display to show something else. If you want to be able to differentiate your displays, then you will need a video card with a good dual display software drivers.

I have heard people say Nvidia is better, I have heard people say ATI is better. From my experience, ultimately it depends on the series of video card you purchase, and how well the drivers work for that card. I'll be honest - I completely do not recommend this option for the beginner or the faint-hearted. Once you run into a problem with dual display, you'll spend hours troubleshooting it. I've worked with nForce drivers, Catalyst, etc. Often times the problems start to occur when you start changing screen resoloutions, trying to get the perfect resoloution across your displays. Or, if you have dragged a window onto an alternate display, and now that display is offline...so how do you get the window back as you can't see what you're doing. Lots of problems can and will occur. Skip this idea alltogether if you are not an experienced IT user.

3> You want to hookup a laptop to your TV, and the TV to show whatever the laptop is showing.

Easiest of all three. Buy a laptop with HDMI - they're not that expensive these days. Plug the cable from the HDMI port on your laptop into the TV. Switch the TV's input to HDMI. Done deal.

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