Can't connect laptop to TV with HDMI anymore...
April 19, 2015 11:42 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are trying to connect her laptop to her TV to watch Netflix, play DVDs, etc. It used to work without a hitch, but for some reason, we've been unable to get it to work or even recognize the TV at all.

The laptop is a Lenovo G500 with basic Intel graphics drivers (updated as of today), and the TV is a 32" Curtis with a built-in (currently malfunctioning) DVD player; the model number on the back is LCDVD326A.

We've tried setting up a mirrored display with the F10/winkey+P menu, through the Intel HD tray utility, and through Windows' display settings, but none of these would even recognize the TV as an available monitor.

We've also tried all three HDMI ports on the TV with no results, and, on the advice of almost every HALP WHY TV NOT WORK thread on the internet, tried rebooting both devices while they're connected, again with nothing to show for it.

Can any Mefites shed some light on what we might be doing wrong? One thing to bear in mind: at least for today, we don't have any spare HDMI cables or monitors to test the cable and/or HDMI out on the laptop. With that in mind, where would you start looking to diagnose the problem?
posted by Merzbau to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, you've tried about everything I would have suggested!

The only thing I can think of is that if you just turned the tv off and back on, you might try full-on unplugging it for thirty seconds or so in case the standby power is causing it to retain some corrupted data. (My TV got into a weird state a few weeks ago and this was the only thing that worked.)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2015

You could take your laptop and cord to a big box retailer and test it out there or at a friend's house. Alternatively, buy a cord in-store, keep the receipt, return once you've purchased a $10 version online.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 12:20 PM on April 19, 2015

Given that it worked before and you've checked everything else, the high probability is a bad cable. HDMI cables can be finicky.
posted by spitbull at 1:26 PM on April 19, 2015

Try rolling back the Intel graphics driver. Maybe something in the update broke your connection.
posted by Zedcaster at 1:36 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend testing all your assumptions and swapping out one variable at a time. Can you independently test each of these assumptions?

1) HDMI cable carries video successfully (does this cable work between two other devices? Can you swap it into a neighbor's system and make sure it works?)

2) TV can accept HDMI signals into at least one port (do you have another device you can send HDMI video from once you have a known-good cable?

2) Computer outputs video over HDMI (can you use a known good cable and someone else's TV to test this part?)

Some related questions:

Is the cable really long, like 20 feet or more? If so, the signal your computer puts out might not have enough energy to carry all of the digital information to your TV. Digital signals generally crap out completely after a certain level of degradation. You can buy an HDMI amplifier if this is the problem, or move to a shorter cable.

Does your computer let you choose a resolution? It might be that your computer is sending an incompatible resolution to the TV. Based on your TV's specs its native resolution is 1366x768. Can you tell the computer to use that resolution? Sounds like your computer doesn't even recognize anything plugged in yet, so perhaps not. But worth a shot. Another great resolution to try would be 1280x720.
posted by reeddavid at 1:47 PM on April 19, 2015

Best answer: Do you have a y other HDMI devices that you can test with to see if its an issue with the TV?

Mine stopped recognizing all HDMI devices, and it ended up that we just needed to go through a reset process. Not sure if it'll work in your brand, but search for "Samsung HDMI reset", and maybe it'll do the trick.
posted by hwyengr at 2:16 PM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: I'll try testing the cable tonight. Just disconnected HDMI devices and unplugged the tv; I'll post if that works. And next time we're at my place we can try connecting the laptop to my tv if the cable turns out not to be the problem.
posted by Merzbau at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2015

It's a long shot, but there are some strange "copy" protection flags with HDMI. You might want to check to see if the monitor has any settings for HDCP. You might also try turning off the internal monitor on the laptop and just sending to an external monitor. I went through this a few years back when a perfectly functional system got effectively bricked with a driver the end it was some silly rules about mirroring to multiple displays...only seemed to be a problem with our tv...
posted by NoDef at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2015

I've dealt with so many bad HDMI cables that i don't even bother trying anything else until i've swapped that. They're second only to SATA cables in how many inexplicably dead(even new out of the damn package) ones i've seen. I'll walk a few blocks in the rain to get a new one before i bother with 20 minutes of troubleshooting, and keep several spares in my house.

Also, as a quick description of that samsung reset method. It's basically ye olde "power drain" computer troubleshooting technique. You unplug the TV, and hold in the power button for 10+ seconds, then wait like a full minute and plug it back in. It's annoying how often this works on equipment that only has a "soft off" function. And on my tv, it takes seriously several minutes of doing this before the power light stops randomly blinking.

I also have something to say about TVs like that. At my after-college shared rental house, we ALL had cheapo tvs like that. All of them were finnicky junkers. I think my roommate who sort of stole mine is the only person who still has a fully working one or even still has it. It was an "insignia", the best buy store brand. I had CONSTANT problems like this with it. I believe, although i don't totally remember clearly now, that there ended up being one works-every-time HDMI socket and the rest were flaky. Good times.

Also if everything else tests out and it still doesn't work with a new cable, but works on other displays... don't discount the actual HDMI socket on the TV having a bad solder joint or something. I had an otherwise great panasonic that i had to make a silly sling for the cable on with duct tape because it only consistently worked at one stupid angle.

For what it's worth, if it ends up being a toasted socket/otherwise bad TV, i see dvd player+tv units like this at thrift stores for as little as $40 fairly often, and my basic TV that size was only $100 four years ago.
posted by emptythought at 8:05 PM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: I was able to try connecting the laptop to the TV wih a different cable, though it's always possible that one was also bad (I'm not sure how often or recently it was used) and I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't have a chance to try it out in all three ports. I suppose the next step will be to test the laptop with a known good cable and TV HDMI port...
posted by Merzbau at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2015

Response by poster: Just to wrap this up: she had the eminently sensible idea to stop wasting time on it and just pick up a Chromecast, which works perfectly for everything but playing DVDs (and there's a possible workaround there). It doesn't seem to have been an HDMI cable issue, and while there was some odd behavior from one of the HDMI ports while setting up the Chromecast (HDMI 1 registers the Chromecast and displays a loading message while it's powering up, then immediately loses input) it doesn't seem to be broken, exactly.
posted by Merzbau at 8:36 AM on May 16, 2015

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