Connecting your laptop to a monitor is something that may sometimes be necessary or may simply bring you some advantages in your daily computer use. Occasionally, you may need to give a presentation or your screen may have broken.

Whatever your case, connecting your laptop to a monitor is a simple task that doesn’t require extensive computer knowledge. Luckily, we’ll explain everything you need to do.

Identifying input and output ports

To connect your laptop to a monitor, it’s important to keep in mind the method you’ll be using. There are ways to make the connection from a cable that connects your computer to the video output device, but it’s also possible to do it without cables, provided the devices have compatible technologies and are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

We’ll start by talking about the wired connection – which we’ve said is the most stable and maintains the best quality, while the wireless means of connection will be explained below.

In all cases, see if your devices have available connection ports. This way, you will be able to know which cable you should use. Normally, laptops don’t have more than one type of video output, so you are unlikely to find this task difficult.

HDMI, the most common port

The HDMI port is the most common standard for connecting devices to transfer video. Already in use for several years (its first version was released in 2003), HDMI emerged as a way to put video and audio data on the same cable, to reduce clutter behind the devices, and also to simplify the process.

To connect your laptop to a monitor, plug the HDMI cable into the indicated port and the picture should appear after a few seconds. You can set the image to appear on both screens, on one screen only, or for one to be an extension of the other.

Depending on the age of your laptop – we’re talking particularly about entry-level models from the period when devices started using the HDMI port – it’s possible that the hardware is designed to transmit only the picture, and the sound is played by the laptop.

In this case, since it’s a hardware limitation, the solution is to connect an independent sound source to the laptop, such as speakers (louder than the built-in ones), a soundbar or Bluetooth adapters.

For older laptops

Older laptops may not have HDMI ports, with DVI being a common choice. It’s important to note that some laptop models may come with multiple inputs, combining newer and older ones to give users more options.

Other (once) common standards are VGA and S-Video, but these are reserved for very old laptops. In both cases, the signal is analogue and has poorer quality than DVI and HDMI, as they don’t support high definition. For both inputs – and DVI in addition – you need to use a different audio source when connecting your laptop to a monitor or TV.

USB-C is the current standard

USB-C cables are the new industry standard, gaining more and more space in electronic devices. The standard is designed to be an evolution of USB 3.1, with improvements not only in data exchange speed, but also in its format, which allows connection in either direction (no top or bottom) and takes up less space.

USB-C serves not only as a data exchange – which can be files or streaming audio and video – but also as a power source, being present even in fast-charging devices. Mobile phones, video games and computers already use this standard as the main type of connection for various purposes.

Wireless

If your intention is to avoid cables, then Wi-Fi is the way to go.

The best use of this option is in video streaming services. YouTube and Netflix already have specific buttons to connect to video streaming devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Once you click the streaming button, a box will open listing all compatible devices on the same Wi-Fi network. Simply click on the desired monitor (or TV) and wait for the video to stream to the desired device.

It’s worth saying that this is a good option, but not as good as using cables. Wireless connection always has a delay, so tasks like gaming may be impossible.

In our tests with video streams of files already on the computer (not streaming video), the results were satisfactory, with high-quality synchronisation between video and audio. However, at some points, the picture was distorted, probably due to a delay in the router processing the information. In addition, mouse movement had a considerable delay.

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