Connect your PC to your HDTV, and control it from across the room
Peter asked me for the best way to connect a PC to an HDTV, and, once connected, how best to use it.
Even in these days of Internet-capable HDTVs and set-top boxes, you still occasionally need to connect a PC to your television. You may have an Internet-capapble smart TV, a connected Blu-ray player or game console, and a dedicated streaming machine like a Roku, Chromecast, or Apple TV. But inevitably, at some point, you're going to want to watch streaming content from a Web site that none of your devices support. And you will want to watch it kicked back in an easy chair or with friends. That calls for a real television.
So eventually, you'l need a way to connect your PC to your HDTV--and a way to control the PC from across the room.
And yes, I know that a Chromecast can send virtually any Web-based video stream from a Windows PC to an HDTV. But in my experience--assuming you're not using a Chromecast-supported service like Netflix or Youtube--the experience is well below that of connecting your PC directly to the television as described below.
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If your PC has an HDMI port, you're in luck. The modern default in HDTV connectivity, HDMI sends the best possible picture and sound from your computer to your television in one convenient cable.
If your PC lacks an HDMI port, perhaps it has a DisplayPort. Like HDMI, DisplayPort carries high-quality images and sound. To my knowledge, no HDTVs come with DisplayPorts, but you can buy a DisplayPort-HDMI adapter for about $20.
But what if your PC has neither? Then, look for a DVI port (arguably the silliest-looking port ever designed). As with DisplayPort, you can buy a cheap adapter that will still send over a very good video signal.
The problem is that it only sends a video signal. You have to find another way to handle the audio. If your HDTV has an HDMI port with an analog audio feed associated with it, you're in luck. Otherwise, you'll need to find another way to play the audio. This could be through your surround sound receiver, or with a pair of cheap computer speakers.
Finally, if your PC only offers old-fashioned VGA, your HDTV probably does, too. Check your TV's manual to see what resolution your computer should be set to for best results.
Like DVI, VGA is video-only. The same solutions apply here as above, although you're more likely to find an analog audio input associated with your VGA connection than with HDMI.
So how do you control your computer from across the room? You could buy a PC remote control, but frankly, I just use a wireless mouse. They're cheaper, and you already know how to control Windows with it.
If you want to stream HD video from a PC, Blu-ray player, or other source from one room to another room in your house—and be able to control that source from the other room—check out this TechHive review of IOGear's new Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix.