- Since this article was originally written, there have been
advances in the type of TVs as well as products in the
market. For list of latest converters for PC to TV, see
Guide to PC to TV Converters.
If there is one question that
we receive here on
a daily basis, that would be "how do I hook
up a PC to my HDTV?". The value of being able to use
the big screen in the family room as a PC monitor is compelling, entertainment melding regular broadcasts with web surfing, 3D gaming, DVD
video playback and access to special features, and MP3 jukebox storage and playback.
The combination in theory sounds like a
match made in heaven, a high frequency display and a computer, but
manufacturers have not been so cooperative. Recently, DVI
based HDTV displays have appeared on the market which may allow
you to by-pass this article, but video timing issues as explained
still apply. It is not a simple task, but one which is
possible with a little persistence and more importantly, the right
The introduction of the HDTV brought us the
high-band Component input, otherwise known as Y-Pb-Pr.
While the internal working of the HDTV set had similarities
to a PC monitor, the new format is not compatible with the PC
standard of VGA otherwise known as RGBHV.
It seemed that the
two would never come together until RCA introduced their first
HDTV tuner box, which prompted two manufacturers to step up to the
plate to create the VGA to Component trascoder. Originally
designed as a solution to connect RCA's VGA based DTC-100
HDTV tuner to component based HDTV, the transcoder soon became
popular with the PC and home theater enthusiasts that wanted to
use their PC's DVD player and other entertainment applications on
their brand new HD-Ready/HDTV. The result is a product that will receive a
computer/HDTV signal from RGB/VGA format, convert and re-send the signal
to the Progressive Component (Y-Pb-Pr) input of HDTV sets.
The models of transcoders currently available, see
Basic Guide to
Now, the caveats......
It's important to know the limitations of
this solution as there are no existing standards between the two connection/signal types.
The important details are:
1. This converter will not
work on a standard analog NTSC interlaced TV. Your TV must be an HD-Ready set.
2. Resolution is limited by
the Digital TV used. While the PC is capable of outputting high
resolutions, the HD-Ready set is often fixed to the high-definition TV standards of 480p
or 1080i at mere 60Hz cycle (known as refresh rate on a PC). A proper signal must be generated from the PC to display an image, and not
adhering to the signal frequency can damage your HDTV.
3. The consumer TV often suffers from
overscan, cutting of screen information that may make navigation
difficult. Image on the right below is an example of overscan.
Properly sized screen
The above limitations can be overcome
providing that your PC's hardware can support special resolutions, and you are able to
properly configure the output. One resolution that will require no special
modification is 640x480 (480p) @ 60Hz which should work on virtually all HD-Ready TV.
For those that want to use a higher resolutions (more ideal
for web surfing and DVD playback), an application by Entech called
PowerStrip can set custom resolutions/timing to match the optimal
frequency of your HDTV (normally 1080i, sometimes 720p)
For more information on how to configure
your HDTV to a PC, read Wayne Harrelson's
Excellent Guide to PowerStrip.
Point of Interest:
Reverse transcoders are available to connect a Progressive Component
output (Progressive Scan DVD, XBox) to RGB/VGA for use
with a PC Monitor.
Key Digital KD-VA5 Component to/from VGA