Moving to the big screen.
November 2, 2009 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Need help connecting my Dell netbook to an external monitor.

A friend has just given me her old 22" monitor (Acer, X223HQ) and I'd like to hook it up to my netbook to watch movies, play games, etc. I have a Dell Inspiron 1010, but unfortunately it's the model that doesn't have a VGA port. How can I go about connecting the monitor via USB or HDMI?

Google is giving me loads of conflicting reports, and the recommended options seem really expensive. Is there a way to do this cheaply? For example, would this work? Sorry if this is a dumb question; I'm not very tech-savvy and a lot of the lingo I'm reading is way over my head.
posted by venividivici to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks like it has a DVI port on the monitor, yes? And I believe the 1010 / Mini 10 has an HDMI port.

DVI and HDMI are the same video signal essentially, just with different shaped plugs. You could get an HDMI to DVI cable and get off fine. If you already have a dvi cable, something like this should work too.

I believe the HDMI to VGA cable only works if the HDMI signal is carrying the analog (VGA) data as well. I can't find reliable info on whether or not the 1010 has that, but if you have the DVI option, I'd go with that!
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:08 AM on November 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, CharlesV42. Unfortunately, the monitor does not have a DVI port -- just VGA. Grrr!

I do have an HDMI port on the laptop, though, so if you can think of any other ideas, I'd love to hear them.
posted by venividivici at 6:18 AM on November 2, 2009

I don't think a USB solution is going to work for you if you want to watch movies (but I haven't actually used a USB monitor before). Your only real option is something like this but you're probably better off investing in a DVI capable monitor.
posted by CharlesV42 at 7:44 AM on November 2, 2009

VVV I would bet the cable you mention should work. Basically what CharvesV42 says in the last paragraph of his first comment. His second comment should hopefully not apply (he links to VGA-to-HDMI which is the opposite direction and much harder.)

Can you try it out in person?

Did you buy the netbook new? Because most of the video cards I've seen with DVI output include a VGA dongle as well. Perhaps check your packing materials?

Here's how it works: DVI is digital, VGA is analog and of course they have different physical connectors. Most graphic cards can produce either DVI or VGA signals but they only have a DVI connector. The DVI->VGA dongle does 2 things. First it touches the card and tells it to produce a VGA signal, second it adapts the physical connector. That's why DVI->VGA dongles/cables are cheap, they are just one tick above a simple cable.

On the other hand if you have a VGA card then it has no idea how to produce a DVI signal so you need a proper $100+ converter as in CharlesV42's second comment.

I'd be very surprised if your Dell didn't support VGA out with the right dongle.
posted by Wood at 9:50 AM on November 2, 2009

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