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December 14, 2009 10:57 AM   Subscribe

FAQ about VGA to RCA.

I want to use my TV as a monitor for my laptop. My laptop has a VGA output and I already have an RCA to analog widget.

So I've seen adapters that go VGA to RCA, and I've also seen converters, although I don't know what the difference is. I've also heard that to do what I want, the laptop has to be able to support a "TV out option" but I'm unclear on what that is. I've also read that your video card matters in this equation.

My question is: how do I get from my laptop's VGA output to an RCA input or, alternatively, what more information do I need in order to answer that question?

Thank yous guys.
posted by MithrilMongoose to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Typically what you need is something like an AverKey. There are a very few laptops that output RCA (properly called Composite Video) over the VGA connector. The difference is that in the later case, the converter is already inside the laptop. The laptop just has Composite Video on one of the otherwise unused pins of the VGA connector.

Composite Video displays are great for watching TV or movies, but they do not make good computer monitors for other uses; the resolution is too low and the image too blurry.
posted by Chuckles at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2009

Deleted in editing: Post the model of your laptop, there is probably a simple answer.
posted by Chuckles at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2009

What you want is one of these. Adapter, converter, whatever. Same deal.

But you should be aware that this isn't necessarily going to be all that useful. Standard NTSC resolution is 480i. Most computer resolutions are in the neighborhood of two to three times that detailed. So even if your video card supports a resolution your TV will accept--it may not; this is worth investigating--you're going to get what amounts to a really tiny screen.

If you've got a television which is capable of higher resolutions, i.e. 780p or 1080i/p, they should have some sort of digital input, possibly even VGA.
posted by valkyryn at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2009

The girlfriend pipes in that the laptop is a Compaq, but he will have to provide the model type.
posted by letahl at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2009

Think of it this way: You can plug a telephone into an ethernet jack. But just because it fits doesn't mean it's carrying the right signal. It's the same for VGA to composite. The converter box translates between signals, and this is what you need. The cheap adapters just make one fit into the other, but they don't translate anything.

If your laptop has "TV-out" then this means it can act as a converter itself, pushing a composite (or sometimes S-Video?) signal through the VGA pins. But this is a rare ability, and you shouldn't assume your laptop can do it.

What you want is one of these. Adapter, converter, whatever. Same deal.

No. Chuckles is right.

Also: RCA to analog.. you mean to coax? RCA is already analog. Only DVI (sometimes) and HDMI are digital.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2009

To add one more thing: You won't find a cheap converter box that can do better than 1024x768. If you're going for a higher end box, I'd just suggest buying a new TV instead that can accept VGA input... I recently bought a 32" 720p TV with native VGA input for $320, while the high-end converters easily cost $150 and up.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2009

Since you've probably done some research, it would be nice to know what exact laptop model you have including the model of GPU.

The dongle that valkryn linked earlier probably won't work with your notebook unless your GPU explicitly supports component/composite out over the VGA port, not just "TV Out".

You will most likely need a converter box ilke the AverKey linked earlier. Here's another one that also works. (Amazon link)
posted by wongcorgi at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2009

I already have an RCA to analog widget.

Do you mean like what you use to hook up a DVD player to an older TV on channel 3?

Anyway, if it is a TV in this age group, you will not be able to use it as a monitor. It simply does not have the resolution to do it. Watching movies you probably wouldn't notice it, but trying to read any text will be impossible.

The TV pretty much has to be in the HDTV class in order to be of any use as a monitor.

As others said, the laptop *may* have extra signal pins in the VGA connector in order to do composite video out. But probably not.
posted by gjc at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2009

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