Video noob seeks advice
March 5, 2012 12:44 AM   Subscribe

Very specific video cable question (computer to LCD TV)

If possible (and not too expensive) I'm going to try to connect my VAIO laptop computer up to my parents' LCD TV. My computer has HDMI and VGA (3 rows of five holes each) outputs. My parent's computer has Component inputs available (I'm not sure if that's the right name. There is one set with 3 RCA inputs, and another set with 5 RCA inputs).

It's not important that we get great resolution. We'll only be viewing JPGs and possibly some videos played in VLC. I've seen some cables advertised, and some posts saying it's impossible to do this just with a cable. I just want to know which output to connect with which input, that will be easiest and cheapest, and like I said, if I only get low resolution / choppy video it's fine.

We'll be visiting Fry's tomorrow (for a different reason), but if you can give me some straight-forward advice we'll give it a try. (I know all about computers, but have paid no attention to all the alternatives in TVs for the last 10 years.) Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss to Technology (7 answers total)
How are the RCA inputs labeled? I'm guessing that the 3 input one is Video, R Audio, L Audio (so probably composite video). Then the 5 input one is probably Red, Green, Blue, R Audio, L Audio. The RGB might not really be red, green, and blue though but rather YPbPr.

For the first case I think this would work: VGA to S-Video or RCA Adpater. In the second, I'm not really finding much.
posted by sbutler at 1:27 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Be wary of the type of VGA to composite RCA adapter that sbutler linked to. As you can see from the newegg reviews, VGA and RCA are more than just different physical connectors — they send out different signals, and this conversion only works if your graphics card can handle it. Fortunately, it's a cheap experiment, but it never worked for me.

If it's worth it to you to invest $30-$40 on an HDMI > component converter, that might be a more viable answer.
posted by thejoshu at 4:33 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

You could probably use something like this it's VGA to component video. That will just handle video, so if you want sound you'll have to use something like a mini plug to RCA converter to go from your headphone jack to the red and white plugs on the TV
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:20 AM on March 5, 2012

Nthing all of the above in that it's not just a matter of different cables, but also a matter of different types of video signals and the different capabilities of the sending & receiving equipment. So that's why you're not finding clear information - sometimes just a cable will work, sometimes a format converter is needed.

It's not just you being a noob- depending on how you look at it, video either has no real standards, or way too many god-damned standards, not all of which are implemented (or implemented correctly) on every piece of gear. I have to deal with this at my job occasionally, and it makes me crazy.

I think you're gonna have to do some digging around for more info on what your parents' TV connections are and what it's capable of. I've sometimes found AVS Forum useful for researching this kind of thing. Monoprice and Newegg are useful for researching & purchasing cables and converters.

And sometimes it just comes down to a trial-and-error situation. Sorry, man.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:37 AM on March 5, 2012

Thanks for the advice. Nice to know I'm not crazy. I guess my beliefs that the type of connector uniquely determines the encoding of the signal it emits/accepts is long dead. If I manage to get something to work I'll post it here.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:52 AM on March 5, 2012

I've used converters like this one in the past. They work okay. If you need audio also you'll have to grab a cable like this.
posted by gregr at 12:21 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Final update from the OP:
I ended up trying this "Kworld KW-SA235 Hz PlusTV PC to TV Converter". I got it for around $60 at Microworld and it did what I needed. Instead of clustering around my 13" computer monitor, my friends could watch okay resolution video on my 15 year old, 40" CRT television. It included a connector for playing audio through my tv, or you can use any other speakers you already use on your computer. I'll note that you have to control everything (stop, start, pause) through your computer's controls, and the desktop image as it is displayed on my tv is pretty dang fuzzy, but if you have a good idea where things are it works.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2014

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