Over the past decade, the internet has witnessed an explosion in available streaming video content. Following the path blazed by YouTube, nearly every cable television channel now offers some portion of its programming online.
Coupled with the fact that--thanks to TiVo and DVR--our television habits have evolved to a more "on-demand" state, it's no surprise that people now watch many of their favorite shows online. Naturally, the next step in this progression is the ability to take streaming content off the tiny laptop screen and onto widescreen HDTV. Luckily, there are several ways to accomplish this.
In order to stream video from your PC to your TV, you will obviously need a computer or laptop connected to the internet and placed relatively close to your television. Connecting your computer to a television simply boils down to finding two matching plugins on either device which can be connected with the appropriate cable.
Nearly all modern desktop computers and laptops have either a DVI, S-video, or VGA connection, and many models have more than one type of video output. The first step is to identify which outputs your computer has and which inputs they can be connected to on your television. Although it is possible to connect two different output/input types with special adapter cables, the simplest thing to do is to identify matching connections on your devices.
One of the most common types of video output on desktop computers and laptops is VGA (Video Graphics Array). These connections are easy to identify, as they are very often colored blue. The blue face of the VGA port has 15 holes arranged into 3 rows of 5 holes each. Most VGA cables have a blue head with 15 pins that insert into the corresponding holes. The cable head also has two knobs used to screw the cable in place once connected. Many new computers ship with VGA cables, but they are also available at many retail electronics stores for very reasonable prices. VGA connectors are common among many modern televisions, allowing for simple connections between PC and TV.
Another very common video output format on computers is the DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connection. While relatively new compared to VGA, the DVI interface has gained acceptance as a standard video output, and is available on most modern computers. There are several different types of DVI connections, but the DVI-I Single Link is typically found on computers. This plugin can be identified by its 18 holes, arranged into two separate 3 by 3 squares of 9 holes each.
S-video and HDMI are two other options for bridging your television with your computer. S-video is easily identified by its circular shape. Unlike DVI and VGA, S-video cables serve as the female end, while the pins are located on the computer. HDMI is a popular video interface used ubiquitously as a connection from cable box to high-definition television. Although some PC's may have HDMI connectors, VGA, DVI, and S-video are much more common.
Once you have located your output and input destinations and connected your computer to your television using the appropriate cables, it is time to adjust your television's display settings. Usually, by browsing your TV's on screen menu, you can pull up a list of input sources and select which one to display. By selecting the source which is connected to your computer, you can essentially transform your TV into a computer monitor, leaving you free to browse the web and stream videos at your leisure.