How to hook up your laptop to your television

If you ever felt tired of gathering people around your tiny laptop to watch online videos and movies, photo slideshows or presentations, you might want to consider connecting your laptop to your television. It’s really simple. You just need the appropriate cable.

Check your inputs
First, you need to check for what kinds of inputs you have on both your television and your laptop. This will determine your next step. HDTVs support HDMI and DVI cables. Older, standard-definition TVs typically support S-Video connections.

When you select a cable and are ready to let the show begin, make sure you connect the cable to your TV before you turn it on. After you turn it on, change your TV to the appropriate input setting, just like changing the setting for a videogame console or Blu-ray player.

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It offers the best quality picture of all cables. If you have an HDTV you are in luck -- all HDTVs support HDMI cables. 

If your laptop doesn't support HDMI cables, however, you'll need an adapter. DVI-to-HDMI and Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters are conventional solutions. If you can use an HDMI, you are well advised to do so since it will result in the highest picture quality. Even if you need to use an adapter, the HDMI—unlike the other cables—supports audio as well. If you are starting to purchase connection equipment now and don’t already have a different connection type in your basement somewhere, the simple fact that it connects audio should be enough to convince you that the HDMI is probably worth the investment.

DVI stands for Digital Video Interface. This connection will be supported by HDTVs and most laptops. The video quality isn’t as crisp as that delivered by HDMI but it also isn’t as bad as the lower-end options. DVI does not transmit sound so you will need to purchase audio cables as well. Common audio cables are RCA connectors. VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. Again, this connection is common but does not carry sound. You will need to buy audio cables.

S-Video cables are cheap. But you get what you pay for. The picture quality doesn’t compare with the higher-end options. But then again, it all depends on what you want out of your connection. Maybe you don’t need a crisp picture. S-Video also doesn’t transmit sound so you will need a different cable for that.

Wireless options
If you are willing to spend more money, there are wireless options. You may choose to go down this route if you are interested in playing videos from a desktop on a television in a different room. If you want to bypass connecting to your computer all together—with a wire or wireless—you can look into smart TVs or other smart devices that will allow your TV to connect with the internet itself.