Getting my S-video output working

I am a fan of Netflix and have always thought the instant download option is very cool.  It works great when I’m watching a movie by myself (for which I rarely have time).  The instant download doesn’t work well when wanting to watch a movie with other people.  It’s just not the same looking at either a laptop screen or computer monitor instead of a television.

I figured there must be a simple way to connect my computer to the TV.  It turns out not to be as easy as I thought.  The video-out ports on most of my computers were not compatible with any cables I already had.  On one of my laptops, however, there is a round yellow port referred to as an S-video port.  My TV doesn’t have an S-video in port, but it does have the 3 colored RCA cables (red, white, and yellow).  I also had a converter (I have no idea with what it came) that switched the s-video out port to an RCA yellow plug.  I then used the regular RCA cables to connect my audio port to the TV and the s-video out to the yellow plug to the TV.

Unfortunately, the output was in black and white.  I did a bunch of searching on the web and found most of the answers said to make sure that the video output is set to the correct standard, such as PAL or NTSC.  My laptop was correctly set to the US standard of NTSC.

After doing a bunch more reading around, I figured maybe it was my converter from S-video to RCA wasn’t working properly.  I have no idea where I got the converter, nor what quality it is.  I looked on Amazon, and found very high ratings for a cable made by Cables to Go which would convert the S-video and audio out to the 3 RCA cables.  It was around $13 shipped from one of there merchants.  I figured for that price is was worth a shot.  The vendor I picked had very good ratings and the cable arrived within 3 days.  Very nice.

Most importantly, after hooking up the cable to my laptop, the Netflix instant download look beautiful on my TV.  I initially tried setting the laptop to use the TV as a second monitor as an extension of my desktop space.  My video driver automatically configured the TV to a low resolution – I think 640×480.  The picture was in color, but was very grainy and poor quality.  When I set the video card to make the TV a “clone” of the laptop screen, the picture was excellent.  Color picture with very good quality, especially considering this was an internet streamed video.  My son thought the picture was about as good as most DVD’s that we watch.  Can’t beat that.

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