NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, if you would like to learn of a cheap and easy way to add a television set’s display to your computer, this article may be of interest to you.
Are you using a rather small monitor on your computer, perhaps even using a laptop computer and its small screen? Do you also have a huge high-definition (HD) television set in your living room or family room? (Almost all television sets built within in the past few years are high-definition models.) Would you like to connect the TV to the computer and use its large screen as a computer display? The process is ridiculously simple, yet many people are not aware of this.
Here is a picture of the 49-inch high definition television in my living room, being used to check comments posted to this newsletter overnight.
I am using a tiny Chromebit computer to surf the web, read and write email messages, maintain this web site, and watch movies. You don’t need a very powerful computer.
The Chromebit I am using is a tiny version of the popular Chromebook and Chromebox computers. Instead of being built as a laptop computer, it is packaged in a tiny package that looks almost like an oversized flash drive. I could fit three Chromebit computers into my shirt pocket! It works well, both on a regular computer monitor and on any HDMI-equipped television set.
All HD television sets have an HDMI connector on the back of the set. HDMI stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface,” and almost modern television sets have that connector. Yours may even have several HDMI connectors. Take a look at the back of your television set to see if it has any connectors that look like this:
Next, see if your computer has a similar connector for an HDMI display. Most computers built within the past few years do have an HDMI connector, but there are exceptions. Your computer might not have that connector.
Assuming both the computer and the television have the appropriate HDMI connectors, all you need is an HDMI cable:
The computer has to be close enough to the television for the HDMI cable to connect them to each other. However, there is no need for you to be that close to either device or to string cables from your easy chair, across the floor, to the television set. Instead, use a wireless keyboard with a built-in trackpad (similar to the trackpads on most laptop computers). You can find these at Amazon.com and at Best Buy stores for as little as $16 U.S.
I purchased a Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch TV Keyboard (shown above) I can now sit in my reclining easy chair across the room from the television and use the computer for pleasure or for business. With a wireless keyboard, I didn’t need to string any wires across the floor. All I had to do was hook the pieces together, power on the television set, the computer, and the wireless keyboard, and start using everything. Life is easy!
Connecting a computer to a television set uses the same method as connecting DVRs (digital video recorders), Blu-Ray disk drives, XBox or other brands of game consoles, and more.
NOTE: This article is being written on the wireless keyboard, Chromebit computer, and television set shown in these photos, then will soon be posted online by using the same equipment.
OK, this was a “no brainer” project for me. I already had the Chromebit computer left over from an earlier project that I no longer use; the HD television set was already in use in my living room; and I already had several HDMI cables lying around. The cost for me was zero. You probably already have the television set and perhaps already have the computer to be used. If so, your total cost might be for the HDMI cable that costs about $7 to $10 on Amazon, probably a bit more in your local stores.
If you don’t already own a Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, or other HDMI-equipped computer, I can recommend a Chromebit. Mine is an older version that is no longer in production. However, Asus has since released a newer version of my Chromebit that has slightly better specifications than my old one. The latest model sells for $85.58 US on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2A4s3Ya. That’s about the cheapest computer available today.
I can also envision a number of serious uses for a computer connected to a wide-screen television set. First of all, anyone with limited eyesight might find the big screen easier to read than the typical computer monitor. However, anyone with vision problems won’t want to sit 10 feet away from the screen like I do. That person will undoubtedly need to sit closer.
The downside is that television screens aren’t really designed to be used as computer monitors. You may find the image to be a bit “fuzzy.” If you really need a very sharp image on a 60-inch or bigger true computer monitor, be prepared to spend $6,000 or more for a large computer monitor! For my purposes, I’ll use the HD television set.
Next, this is a great set-up for families that have been sharing one computer. The children probably will love playing computer games on the family’s big screen television, and that will free up the family computer for more usage by the adults. The low-cost Chromebit or any Chromebook or Chromebox is an excellent choice for use by children as it is simple to use and never gets viruses. The operating system cannot be corrupted accidentally by children (or adults!) pressing the wrong switch or a wrong key on the keyboard. The Chrome operating system can withstand almost any kind of abuse! However, all online computer usage by children still should be monitored by adults.
However, you don’t have to use a Chrome computer. You can also connect a large-screen television set to any Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, or Linux computer if it has an HDMI connector. That’s true for desktop, laptop, and even Chrome computers.
Finally, the large screen with almost any kind of computer is a great way of letting the entire family play computer games or watch a movie or sporting events that are only available via online streaming video. It isn’t a perfect substitute for a Roku box; but, then again, the price is right!
As for me, I simply enjoy checking email and surfing the web the first thing every morning when wearing my jammies and sipping coffee. Your mileage may vary.