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How do I connect my laptop to my TV?

How do I connect my laptop to my TV?

Dear Jon, please can you tell me how I connect my laptop to my TV? I want to watch the BBC iPlayer on my television.

Many thanks,

Vera Dreyfuss, via email, Tuesday 8 March, 2011

Our digital TV expert says...

Connecting your laptop to your TV is a great way to watch all the internet catch-up services, such as the BBC iPlayer, 4oD and the ITV Player, on a bigger screen. This means that all the family can sit together and watch their favourite shows.

There are a whole host of free websites that you can watch content from

If your computer and TV both have an HDMI port, and your TV is HD ready, it’s really easy to set-up the connection and will allow you to watch all your favourite programmes in super sharp high-definition (HD). Simply plug one end of the HDMI cable into your TV and the other end into your laptop or computer.

Our videos provide easy-to-follow instructions on getting connected, and below are some handy hints and tips…

Videos: How to connect your laptop to your TV

Connecting a laptop to your TV

There are two ways to connect your TV to your laptop:

  1. With an HDMI cable
  2. With a VGA cable

If your TV has a socket for a VGA cable (which most flatscreen TVs do), then you can simply connect your PC or laptop to your TV with a cable. Then just select the correct input using the AV button on your remote control, and you’ll be able to watch streamed or downloaded content on your TV screen. VGA cables cost around £10, and can be purchased from all good electrical stores.

For an even better connection, with sharper sound and a clearer, brighter image, try using a HDMI cable. These cost a little more than VGA cables, but will allow you to watch high-definition films and programmes.

It is important to check the sockets on the back of your TV and your laptop/computer before buying cables however. While all new HD ready TVs will have a HDMI socket, only a selection of the latest computers will.

If you have an older CRT television with a deep back, then it’s unlikely the TV will have a VGA or HDMI socket to connect to your PC. As an alternative you can buy a scan converter for around £60, which will allow you to connect the VGA cable from your PC to the RCA phono socket on your TV - though the quality may be quite poor.

What can I watch?

There are a whole host of websites that you can watch content from, many of which are free. Try these for starters:

It’s important that you remember that streaming or downloading programmes and movies from the internet to watch on your TV will impact your broadband usage limit. You’ll also need a reasonable connection speed, otherwise buffering may be a problem. Check your internet speed using our online speed checker.

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