Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Showing your PC on the TV

Believe me this isn't as tough as it sounds.   Granted, I have been doing this sort of thing for years.  Back in the stone ages of the Pentium 3, to put your PC video out on the TV it took special cards and special cables.   Now all of that is built in and almost standard.

What got me thinking about this was two things.  I have a couple friends and clients.  Some of them have vision problems.  If you have a vision problem, often making something larger will help.  I know that since I've been using reading glasses for a while now.  The other thing is that sometimes it's just nice to watch your laptop on the big TV.  After all who doesn't like a video of a dog trick or a kitten being cute at 46 inches or more?

These days there's something called HDMI.  It is used for a lot of things like connecting your DVD or BluRay player to the TV.  In my case, I can use HDMI to connect to the TV directly and with a couple button presses I'm looking at my little 12 inch laptop on the 46 inch TV.

Never mind that typically where I sit across the room in TV Viewing Position, the laptop is larger than the TV.  Remember objects further away are smaller after all!  Yep, I made my little 12 inch laptop look larger than my big 46 inch TV by simply sitting 10 feet away.  If I move closer that changes.

That's exactly why I do it.  When I have someone over to do a web presentation, I sit them on the couch, myself on the Poang chair facing them with the laptop on my lap.  We're comfortable with a glass of Iced Tea or Lemonade, and we discuss what changes need to be made.  It's all rather friendly and civilized.  Much easier than sitting around an old computer monitor.

Now how I do it is pretty simple.

1) I have a bunch of HDMI sockets on the back of my TV.  Since I don't need 4 of them, one is always available for me to work with.

2) I have a 25 foot long HDMI cable that I picked up online.  If you are paying more than $10 for an HDMI cable, I need you as a client of mine since you're willing to pay too much for things.  Go online and search the major retailers.  Trust me, you'll find things cheaper than buying at the big box store.  This is the kind of item that keeps those big box stores in business.  I just clicked "buy" on a 6 foot HDMI cable from and paid a whole $1.49.  Compare that with Best Buy's price for $24.99 plus tax.

Yes, I do know Purchasing, and Procurement and I do know who is a ripoff.

3) I have a laptop with an HDMI socket.  With Windows 7, the laptop simply "knows" something has been plugged in and will share the video through the HDMI socket when it is plugged in.  Mac works similarly, but typically has an adapter that you have to use.

4) To make it all work it is pretty simple:  Plug the $1.49 cable into the TV, then into the HDMI socket on the laptop.  You may have to find your remote that is under the pillows on the couch for the TV and press the source button.  The HDMI Source you will want will be labelled on the back of the TV where you plugged the cable in for your laptop. 

5) Enjoy.  If it doesn't show through the TV then you'll need to check into the settings on the laptop and make sure it actually is sharing the video out.   Since that varies between video cards, I'm going to let you figure that one out on your own.

Now, why did I write this?  Well, you see, I sent an HDMI cable with my friend when he went home to Key West last time.  Once he finds that, I want him to go through the steps.  That way he'll have his laptop all nice and big.

Oh, and if you need an idea what these things look like:

HDMI Cable with Connector is here.
HDMI Connector is here.
HDMI Socket is here.

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