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Connecting PC to TV

waldron
Grafter
Posts: 348
Registered: ‎28-07-2007

Connecting PC to TV

I am trying to set up a PC running Vista to act as a Media Centre, in order to display family photos and videos on the main TV screen.
The TV is a Sony digital, but has only scart and S-video for input (no PC input). I'm using the dual (clone) display from the PC's graphics card.
I've tried connecting S-video from the PC to S-video on the TV, but can't get a signal at all.
Using S-video from the PC into a scart connection on the TV, I can get a picture but not all of it is displayed - i.e. it 'overflows' the screen.
I also have a home cinema system attached, but connecting via that gives the same problems.
Can anyone offer a solution please (other than changing the TV!)
21 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
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Registered: ‎02-02-2008

Re: Connecting PC to TV

I bought a small box that converts VGA to composite video (fed into TV via SCART adapter like you would with a playstation) to get around problems like this.
I've never got a good resolution picture via s-video from a PC (though maybe others have).
Quality is still lower than on a PC monitor .........
As you say, the "quality solution" is a different TV with hi-res PC input. I think that's another minefield though......  Roll eyes
Highlighted
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

What screen resolution do you have set on the PC?
Most TV's have much lower PC resolution compared to an equivelant monitor. You may need to change your PCs resolution to 800x600 or even 640x480 to view on the TV.
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎30-08-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

A different approach may be to simply transfer your photos to CD or DVD disk and play them through a DVD player. Most burning software will allow albums to be played with some control of timing between photos, most will play video clips as well through a DVD player, most will allow titles and commentary/background music as well. Usually the DVD player remote can be used for manual control. I know Nero used to do this, I've not had this programme for some time so I don't know if later versions will do it. Bit like an elaborate "Photo Frame" really.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
waldron
Grafter
Posts: 348
Registered: ‎28-07-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

Quote from: Peter
What screen resolution do you have set on the PC?
Most TV's have much lower PC resolution compared to an equivelant monitor. You may need to change your PCs resolution to 800x600 or even 640x480 to view on the TV.

I can't find the equivalent of "Control Panel/Display" on Vista. However, there is an nVidia Control Panel with limited features. The default is 1024x768. I've tried changing it to 800x600 (the lowest it will go on a 'slider')but it doesn't seem to make any difference.
waldron
Grafter
Posts: 348
Registered: ‎28-07-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

Quote from: petlew
A different approach may be to simply transfer your photos to CD or DVD disk and play them through a DVD player.

Thanks for the suggestion. I was trying to get away from having a separate library of all the pictures and videos. I am currently transferring them all to my HDD. There are literally thousands, including photos from my parents' childhood.
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎30-08-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

For Vista, it's much the same as any other OS: right click anywhere on the desktop and click "personalize" you'll get a whole raft of options including resolution alterations.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,342
Thanks: 79
Fixes: 2
Registered: ‎30-08-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

You'll get a fair few photo's on a DVD. A lot more if you use double layer disks.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
notheruser
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: Connecting PC to TV

waldron - can you give us some more info? What model is your TV? What is your Pc, and what video card is in it? Typical resolution of a 32" LCD is 1366 x 768, but that's pretty irrelevant if you're feeding it with composite or s-video, since these are supposed to be analogue PAL signals. The PC needs to convert the output to PAL, and the TV will converrt it back to whatever it needs for it's display. So even if your display has 768 lines, there's no point in setting the PC at a ??x768 resolution - the TV expects to receive 626 lines which it will scale to 768, so when you give it 768, it has to drop part of the picture.
HPSauce mentions a scan-convertor (I presume!), and having seen a lot of these, I can agree with his suggestion - even a cheap one will do a better job of converting your VGA output to composite, S-video, or RGB, than most internal computer cards.
I can understand you wanting to have your photo library in one place - but do you really want to commit all of these precious memories to a computer HDD? Presumably you'll want a backup? So what will you backup onto? - presumably DVD. So why not follow petlew's suggestion and put them on DVD in a format which can be played on your DVD player? From experience, even a cheapo £25 DVD player using an S-video connection to your TV is likely to provide considerably better picture quality than any solution which involves downscaling (in the PC or external box) and then upscaling in the TV.
Community Veteran
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Re: Connecting PC to TV

Thanks northeruser for the seconding. I was just going to suggest that if waldron was heart-set on going the PC/HDD route, then he should at the very least purchase a 2nd HDD and save them on that, rather than risk the whole lot on a main HDD failure. Of course the 2nd HDD could fail as well, so he should still consider backing-up to DVD (or other format...possibly flash drives) as well anyway.
waldron, sorry about referring to you in the 3rd person removed!! The DVD route could well be cheaper and end up in better quality viewing.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,342
Thanks: 79
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Registered: ‎30-08-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

One other option for large back-up is an external HDD. I use an 80Gb Lacie (commonly available I think) it's fearfully slow, but would hold 1000's of photos in one place safely. About £30ish I think, might find them much cheaper than that if you look in the right places, no doubt some helpful soul will tell you here in short order. Larger sizes are available.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
waldron
Grafter
Posts: 348
Registered: ‎28-07-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

Many thanks for all your advice and suggestions – it’s much appreciated. The idea of a media centre to focus all my music, photos and videos in the same location ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ I naively thought that it was simply a question of connecting to the TV, but now I know that it’s not that simple.
I am currently attempting to test various scenarios before buying any additional hardware. I’m using a Sony Vaio with a GeForce graphics card. There are VGA, HDMI and S-video outputs available, but I have only tried using S-video. The TV is a Sony Triniton Digital 32”, with S-video and scart inputs. Using S-video, there is no picture at all. With scart it reproduces the laptop screen, but loses some of the picture around the edges. The laptop allows me to change the resolution although it makes little difference no matter which setting I use.
I have already copied all my classical CDs to iTunes, and intend to download MP3s in future (from legal sites only) to continue my collection. I am still in the process of transferring photos and videos. I like the idea of using software to catalogue and index all the photos so that I can insert additional ones in future. Storage isn’t a problem as I regularly back up all media to my D drive, and from time to time to an external 500GB SATA drive.
I also have a Panasonic home cinema and want to play my iTunes music through its speakers. I would also like to use the BBC iPlayer to the main TV for programs I have missed. I have a wireless router.
So I am trying to develop a ‘media centre’ solution, and thought the Vista facilities would provide that for me. However, at a PlusNet open day last year, I remember a demonstration of a similar setup, with an Xbox at the centre. I am wondering whether this might provide an alternative solution. Or would that present similar difficulties in connecting to the TV.
notheruser
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: Connecting PC to TV

waldron - there are a few hundred variations of Sony Vaio, so if you could be a bit more specific about this, and the video card in it please, you never know - someone on the forum might have one the same.
You say that you've had limited success with the S-video from the laptop going into the SCART on the TV. How are you doing that? If it works on SCART but not the S input on the TV, it sounds like either you have a faulty S cable, you're not selecting the correct input on the TV. On the other hand, the laptop may not be set up for S-video output at all, and may be putting out composite on one of the pins of the S connector, and it's just by luck that you've got something on the SCART.
Do you have anything else which will definitely give you an S-video signal (DVD player etc.?) If so, use it to ensure the TV is configured correctly, so that you are certain that applying an S signal to the S connector will definitely be displayed. Once you've established that this is working okay, you can be certain that the configuration problem is now with your laptop.
You say that the laptop picture 'overflows' the screen - can you be more specific? Are you loosing a little bit all around, or are you only seeing one corner of the laptop screen? Going into a TV from any computer will often loose a bit around the edges unless you have a conversion box that allows you to choose between overscan and underscan. In other words if you're only talking about loosing a 5% border of the picture, that's normal behaviour. It may be, depending on the video card, that you can tweak this, but otherwise you will need an external VGA to video convertor.
It doesn't matter what you put at the centre of your media centre solution - you are not going to get high quality results with a TV which has no digital inputs, or even a VGA input (which is analogue, but can at least allow you to match your source resolution to your TV resolution). You didn't say what model your TV is - is it something like a KD32DX40  ? If so, the only thing "digital" about it is the built in freeview tuner - it's still basically a good analogue set. I'm sure the picture quality with DVD's etc. is stunning - Trinitron tubes are hard to beat - but it's not really the right set to be displaying computer graphics.
Glad to see you've got your backups sorted!  Cool
waldron
Grafter
Posts: 348
Registered: ‎28-07-2007

Re: Connecting PC to TV

notheruser – the Viao is VGN-FZ21E, and the graphics card nVidia GeForce 8400M GT. The TV is a Sony KD-32DX40U. I have just re-run all my tests, using the same S-video cable for all of them.
Connecting to the TV through a scart adaptor (which has a couple of audio connections also) I get a colour picture, with approximately one inch of the (laptop) picture missing left and right, and half an inch top and bottom. This is AV2(S).
Using the same cable to the S-video connection on the TV – AV3(S), I get no picture at all on the default settings. However if I use nVidia Control Panel to lower the PAL setting it gives a black and white picture at the left hand side of both screens. The window is small and I can’t increase it, even on the laptop.
I also notice that in the Control Panel, where I have it set to two screens in ‘clone’ mode, when connected via scart it shows as “Laptop + TV”. But when connected to S-video, it shows as “Laptop + HDTV”.
The only other device I have with S-video output is the home cinema. Connecting that via S-video gives a normal full screen picture.
From your final paragraph, does that imply that the Windows Media Centre concept expects HDTV or at least one with VGA input? If so, then maybe the only answer is to wait until it’s time to change the TV.
notheruser
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: Connecting PC to TV

The AV3 connection on your set also has a composite socket - I'm sure you havn't, but I'll ask anyhow - have you anything plugged into the composite phono socket?
I'm guessing the answer is "no", so the only thing I can think of is that the electronics for the AV3 connector and for the SCART are slightly different. the nVidia card will try to detect what it's connected to, and for S-video, it expects to see a 75 ohm load on both the chrominance and luminance lines. If it doesn't it will not auto-detect an S-video connection. Given that Sony are using the same AV selection for both S and composite, it may well be that the loading on both lines is not the same. (Why it should select Laptop and HDTV, I havn't a clue - maybe that's the default when it finds a load and can't determine what it is).
You may be able to over-ride the auto selection in the nVidia control panel when you connect to the S connector - I don't know about your particular card, but generally this is :-
In Setting tab of the Display Properties Control Panel, click Advanced
In nView tab, click Device Settings and click Select Output Device
In Device Selection tab, click the TV option
Change "Video output format" to S-video
(It may be a drop-down list called "Display Pair" when you select nview mode "Clone")
If you've got the full Forceware Graphics Drivers, and not some cut-down version supplied by Sony, then there is an Advanced mode, which may explain why you describe the Control Panel as having "limited features" - I don't have one at hand to check, but I think you change modes using a drop-down on the nVidia Control-panel menubar. For some reason, some of the facilities in nVidia's control panel (such as the possibly useful "Screen Position on TV") are not available in Vista, though "TV Setup" should be. If you don't have these, you might want to try getting the latest software from nVidia. As far as I am aware, they are working on a new release which will add some of the missing features in Vista into their software, so if you can't do what you need to now, it may come in the next update.
If you're loosing as much as an inch off each side, I'd be surprised if you can't improve on that - half an inch I could understand as overscan, but an inch each side off a 15.4" screen is a lot.
In answer to your last question, the Windows Media Centre concept works best with hi-res computer monitors. A 32" LCD TV is typically 1366x768 - my 24" computer monitor is 1920x1200, so as you can see, size for size, computer monitors will deliver better resolution. Nothing you do with an analogue PAL signal is ever going to compare. Having said that, if I was watching a DVD, I'd ather be viewing it on your Sony TV than even the best computer monitor.