From the Kenosha News on 11-18-07

You can display your computer output on your TV

      A reader recently asked me what it takes to connect a computer to a TV.  As usual, the answer is “it depends.”  It depends on both your TV and your computer as to whether you can connect them directly or whether you need additional equipment.

      First of all, look at the connections on your computer.  You will have one or more types of “video out” jacks on your computer.  The most common type used on Windows laptops and desktops is a VGA connector, which is trapezoid shaped and has three rows of five holes each.  Many laptops and newer computers have S-video ports; these are round and have four small holes and one larger, rectangular hole.  Macintoshes and some fancier video cards in PCs have DVI connectors, which are rectangular with two rounded corners and many square holes.  Mac laptops have mini-VGA or mini-DVI connectors, which look similar to USB connections.  For pictures of all of the above plus instructions for connecting external monitors to various Mac models, consult www.macinstruct.com/node/78.

      Next, take a look at the connectors on your TV.  If you have a very new TV, you may have a VGA and/or DVI connector on it.  Most newish TVs have S-video connectors on them.  Moderate to older TVs have RCA (composite) video plugs that are round and usually color coded yellow.  (When you have red, white and yellow, then red and white are the two stereo audio connections, and yellow is for video.)  You might also have component video connections that use a three-tailed cable for video with Y (yellow), Pb (blue), and Pr (red) connectors.  Much older TVs may have only an F-connector on them – the connector that looks like the cable TV jack on your wall, often called coax, that has one small hole in the middle and a threaded ring for a screw-on cable.

      If you have matching connectors on both your computer and TV (e.g. VGA connectors on both), then all you need to have is the appropriate cable.  VGA, S-video, and DVI cables are available from many electronics stores or through on-line vendors.  Manufacturers include Belkin, Monster, and others.  Prices and cable lengths vary, starting at about $10.

      If you only have a composite (RCA) connector on your TV, you will need a “scan converter” box, which will likely cost around $100.  This web site shows one model with helpful diagrams:  www.vpi.us/vga-tv-1024.html.  Another web site that shows various options is www.nextag.com/tv-scan-converter/search-html

      For Mac users, Apple has created a miniDVI-to-video converter and a DVI-to-video converter that will allow you to connect various models of Macintoshes to a TV without a scan converter.  These cost $19 from either Apple or a reseller like MacMall, and they give you both an S-video and an RCA (composite) video connector.

      If you have only a coax F-connector on your TV, you will likely need an additional box – an RF modulator - to convert from the RCA connectors to coax (F.)  These cost about $30.  One RF modulator I saw includes an S-video connector which might alleviate the need for the scan converter when using S-video. 

by Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 11-18-07