July 13, 2008 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to connect an older PC to my TV, just to watch online videos through the TV, not do any detailed PC work or reading. Preferably without buying a new video card for the PC. I thought it would be simple, but the more I read, the more confused I get. The short version is: what's the simplest way to connect a PC with this video card to this TV. The slight longer version is:

I'm thinking that something like this or this probably won't work, just because they have warnings about my display system needing to support TV-OUT. I'm not sure it doesn't, but can't find any indication that it does. But if one of those will work, I'd much rather use it than add another box.

I'm hoping that something like this will, but I'd like to be a little more certain before I buy and mess with one.

The TV's HD, but I don't need or expect very good quality for the PC output. I'd just like a way to have more media than Comcast gives me.

Thanks for any advice.
posted by still_wears_a_hat to Technology (6 answers total)
The short version is: what's the simplest way to connect a PC with this video card to this TV.

The most conventional way of doing this would be with a slightly newer graphics card, as most modern graphics cards offer both TV output (usually s-video) and DVI output (which is easy to convert to HDMI); DVI/HDMI will give you the best picture quality (but you'd also need a DVI to HDMI cable, cost about $10 including shipping).

A second-hand graphics card would probably offer this functionality - either from ebay (cost around $15-20 including shipping) or from a friend who is upgrading their computer. If you have any computer enthusiast friends, it's quite possible they have old cards just lying around, which they would happily exchange for a 6-pack of beer.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:11 PM on July 13, 2008

Something like the Averkey Lite should work.

I've got one hooked up to an otherwise headless box in the frontroom, just in case I need direct access to it, and it works pretty well.

Bear in mind that only video gets sent to the telly. You'll need other leads to hook the audio to a stereo, amp or whatever.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 2:31 PM on July 13, 2008

You need a card with video out. There's no way to do this without buying something additional, unfortunately. Cheapest route is probably old video card (with TV out) as suggested by Mike1024. I don't know a ton about DVI/HDMI outputs or HD, but I believe it's probably not worth your bother -- if you have an older computer you may have difficulty playing HD content, so there's no point in pushing HD to your TV. Hopefully someone can correct me if I'm wrong on this point. svideo should give you fine enough quality for any xvid content you may have laying around.
posted by fishfucker at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2008

Your third option will likely work, the first two not so much. The nice thing about standards is that there's so many to choose from, and the PC and TV worlds haven't been on speaking terms until recently.

While a converter box will almost certainly work, it's not what I'd recommend. This video card or any other AGP one with a DVI out will give you far better bang for your buck. You should be able to push 1080p to the TV (even if your computer can't actually decode 1080p content) which will make the little things better like windows fitting on screen by default and menus that are actually readable. Any of a billion identical DVI-to-HDMI cables will plug it right into your TV.

I recommend XFX cards whenever I can as I've had some truly excellent customer service experience with them, but at this price range they're much of a muchness no matter who's repackaging the reference design.
posted by Skorgu at 8:57 PM on July 13, 2008

Short answer - get a newer video card someplace.

long answer:

First link, won't work. Second link might work. Third is the same/similar to an AverKey, by another manufacturer.

I've got a very old AverKey unit, and it isn't very good. Compared to most video cards with TV out, it doesn't create a really clean video signal (this may have improved with newer models). Also, it requires very specific resolution and refresh rate settings, which means changing display settings every time you switch back and fourth (this may have improved, but it won't have improved enough to be good). pinkbuttonanus is having a good experience with an Averkey because the computer has no other monitor, which is a great application for it, but it doesn't apply here.

You want to set the TV up as a second monitor, that way you just have to drag the video window to the new window, and set it to full screen mode - very easy.

DVI/HDMI conversion is completely simple - there is no real conversion happening, the electrical signals are the same, the converter is just reordering the pins and making the connectors match. Most, but not all video cards can be set to typical HDTV resolutions, so that is pretty simple too, but not guaranteed error free..

I expect any computer with that video card to be a sub 600MHz Pentium II, which is too slow for a lot of downloaded video, and way too slow for HDTV content. A modern video card will help the computer playback more complex downloaded video, but there is no chance that it will be enough for HDTV..

For downloaded HDTV, you really need a Pentium IV 2.4GHz, or an AMD Athlon close to 2GHz (maybe as low as 1.6GHz?), and a good video card.
posted by Chuckles at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2008

drag the video window to the new window other desktop.
posted by Chuckles at 9:13 PM on July 13, 2008

« Older Cities set to music   |   Help me keep a chinchilla without cockroaches. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.