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vision quest
January 22, 2011 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me understand the vicissitudes of connecting my laptop via VGA to a TV.

I understand the need for (and use) a conversion box since my (old, non-HD) TV only takes RCA plug input. The picture is such that normal (say 10 point) text is unreadable. Is this something I can fix by changing the resolution on my laptop? Is this something I could fix with a more expensive conversion box? Is this something I need to learn to live with?

Also, I can either boot (WIN XP) into the laptop screen or the TV screen. Is there a way to have both identical and visible at once? Or, failing that, is there a way to switch between the two that doesn't require a reboot?
posted by Obscure Reference to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of laptop is it? Most any made in the past 8 years should have a function key that allows you to switch between external output/LCD screen/both.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2011


Standard definition TV only has about 480 scanlines, so there's no point in using a resolution higher than 640x480. Even then, "10 point" text is only about 7.5 pixels tall, and the analog nature of a CRT will tend to blur out the details.

Depending on the model of your video card, there should be an option in the display settings to "clone" or "mirror" the display to both outputs. If you have an integrated Intel chipset, it may have its own special control panel for setting that up.
posted by teraflop at 11:59 AM on January 22, 2011


To your first question: that should be fixable by playing with the resolution on your laptop. If not, I use the magic of [ctrl]+[+] a lot.

You should spend some time playing with your computer display settings. (You can go in through control panel or just right click on the desktop and go to properties/personalize.) Under the display settings you should see a panel with the option for you to change the settings for each monitor, move them around, etc.

For your second question, my laptop has a shortcut to switch between the two screens (Function+F7). You probably have a similar button. Also, with both the laptop and television on, you can drag windows between the two screens to work on them either on the tv or on your computer screen.

It takes some time playing around with the different settings before you really figure out how to do everything. Be patient young grasshopper.
posted by phunniemee at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2011


Toshiba Portege. Keyboard lacks a "function" key (is there a workaround for this?)
Mobile Intel (R) 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset Family
[display adapter] (2x)
(whatever that means)

I want the 2 screens to be identical (I think). Being patient and young . . .
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:31 PM on January 22, 2011


Looking at an image of that keyboard, it looks like Fn + F5.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:34 PM on January 22, 2011


The function key should be on the lower left hand side by the ctrl button with Fn in blue text.
posted by phunniemee at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2011


Nothing like putting on better glasses! Found Fn but it didn't work (even though I can now see that the F5 key actually has little monitor pictures on it under the F5)
But I found the intel disp-lay to menu! Thanks everyone!
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:49 PM on January 22, 2011


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