Since I’ve been asked this question twice in one month, I figure it’s worth writing a blog post about.
With the price of LCD and LED TVs dropping daily, many companies have decided to mount large flat-screen TVs to their conference room walls to use for presentations. It’s a great idea, but it does raise the question, What is the best way to hook up your computer to the TV?
Essentially, today’s TVs are just computer monitors (Or is it the other way around?) and most are designed to accept input from laptop or desktop computers. At home, you have the luxury of selecting your TV and computer so they are compatible, but in a conference-room setting, where you have little control over the type of computer an employee or guest may have, you need to take into account all of the various standards for getting video from one device to another. Here are a list of the most common interface types right now:
- VGA, the old style, blue, 15-pin connector
- DVI, the larger, white, many-pin connector (in “D”, “A”, and “I” flavors)
- Micro-DVI, a special, small DVI port found on original MacBook Air laptops
- Mini-DVI, another special, small variant of DVI
- HDMI, currently the most common way to connect audiovisual components together
- Mini-HDMI, a smaller HDMI port used on some laptops
- Micro-HDMI, an even smaller HDMI port used on ultrabooks, tablets, and some smartphones
- DisplayPort, the successor to HDMI (which looks very similar, but is not the same)
- Mini DisplayPort (a smaller version of DisplayPort for laptops)
- Micro DisplayPort (an even smaller version of DisplayPort for ultrabooks, tablets, and some smartphones)
- Various other proprietary connections that require proprietary adapters.
Since HDMI is the most ubiquitous of the standards, and since most of the other standards can be converted to HDMI, and since your TV likely has multiple HDMI inputs, your best bet is a long HDMI cable and a few adapters that allow you to plug in a variety of devices. At the very least, you should have, on-hand, a DVI-HDMI adapter. If you have guests who would like to present, it’s wise to ask them a few days in advance what style video outputs they have, so you can purchase the necessary adapters or converters prior to their arrival.
Why not just ditch all these cables and go wireless? After all, it’s 2014. Aren’t we supposed to be able to do that now? Well, we’re also supposed to have flying cars, and while there are a few contenders for that title, there’s no consensus or standardization of what a flying car should be.
It’s the same with wireless video: There are quite a few technologies that allow you to send video to a monitor without wires, but there’s no standardization. The problem is that most of the devices require special drivers to be loaded on the computer to allow it to use the device. That’s fine if you’re always connecting the same computer, but the drivers may not be compatible with whatever computers your guests bring in. And, who wants to spend the first twenty minutes of their presentation downloading and troubleshooting drivers?
The most compatible solution is something like the IOGEAR Wireless 5×2 HD Matrix. This allows you to plug the computer into the transmitter (which would sit on your conference table or lectern) via a standard HDMI cable. The receiver then plugs into the TV via another standard HDMI cable. The transmitter and receiver are physically separate, meaning there are no wires running across the floor. Because all of the connections are standard HDMI, there are no drivers to worry about. (Note that, as of this writing, we have not tested this particular product, and it is included as an example only.)
In conclusion, the best option is a single HDMI cable with adapters. This will present the least problems and be the most compatible. If you must go wireless, make sure you use a system where the transmitter and receiver are both connected via HDMI.