How to Turn Your TV Into a Second Monitor — Because Working From Home on a Laptop Is the Worst

How to Turn Your TV Into

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With more and more people working from home now than ever, wanting extra screen space is a common desire. After all, you likely had a pretty sweet setup at work, including but not limited to an extra monitor. If you didn’t bring that home before the quarantines started, you may be feeling a bit frustrated. Luckily, there’s an inexpensive answer, you likely have most of the required items.

Whether you want to project your monitor on the big screen or just want to put that old TV you have lying around in the basement to good use, it’s actually quite easy to connect your TV to your laptop or PC. In fact, if you already have a flat-screen (or especially a bigger TV), all you need to do is connect your device to your computer with an HDMI cable, configure your screen preferences and voila! You’re good to go.

However, if you’re working with an older TV, or an older computer (or possibly both), the process is a little more complicated. It’s still fairly easy to set up, but you might need one (or two) extra devices to help complete the connection. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up everything you need to turn your TV into a second monitor, plus we’ve even included our favorite TV and external speakers to help make your setup all the better.

Here’s everything you need to turn your TV into a second monitor.


1. Insignia 32-Inch Smart TV

First and foremost, you’re going to want to use the right type of TV as your second (or main) monitor. This 32-inch Insignia model sports a vibrant 720p (or 1080p HD) picture quality to help make all those images really pop. What’s more, it comes with three HDMI outputs (one to connect to your computer and two others for games and whatnot), and comes with Fire TV actually built-in, so you don’t have to worry about configuring, installing and setting up more applications than you need to.

Smart TV Amazon

2. AmazonBasics HDMI Cable

The first item you’ll need (and only, if your TV was made in the last 15 years) is an HDMI cable. While there are tons of cables out there with virtually no discernible differences, we went with this AmazonBasics model because it comes in a range of different length options (which is definitely a plus if your TV is mounted to the wall) and various packs. Essentially, you’ll just need to connect your laptop, tablet or PC to your TV, configure a few settings depending on your make and model, and you’ve got yourself an instant monitor.

HDMI Cable Amazon

3. RuiPuo HDMI to RGB Cable Converter

All of us 80s and 90s kids definitely remember the pain of trying to hook the VCR up to the TV by having to match those red, yellow and white cables up with their corresponding outlets. If you’re still rocking one of those older TVs (or just want to put that one in the basement to good use as a second monitor), you’ll need to use an HDMI to RGB converter. Fortunately, this universal model is one of our all-time favorites. Simply plug your HDMI output into the converter and then plug the cables in as usual. Yup, it really is as easy as that.

HDMI to RGB Amazon

4. Rankie HDMI to DVI Cable Converter

So what happens when your TV has an HDMI outlet but your computer doesn’t? Sometimes your TV might be new(er) while your PC is still stuck running Windows 95. If you’re still rocking that old PC, fear not: all you need to do is grab this DVI-to-HDMI adapter to help connect your computer to your TV. With no setup required, you simply connect the DVI to the HDMI, which in turn connects to your TV for instant use.

Rankie HDMI to DVI Cable Converter Amazon

5. Moread HDMI to VGA Converter

In some cases, your computer will have a VGA outlet instead of a DVI outlet. Sure, they both look alike, but they work in different ways. Similar to how the DVI-to-HDMI works, this VGA-to-HDMI adapter lets you connect your PC to your TV via HDMI. And while most VGA-to-HDMI connectors are known for offering low or fuzzy video quality, this one actually supports 1080p video, so even if you’re connecting an older computer, you won’t have to worry about sacrificing picture quality.

HDMI to VGA Amazon

6. Bose Companion III Multimedia Speakers

Now that you’re satisfied with your setup, you’re gonna want to upgrade your sound system a bit. While there are definitely better external speakers on the market, these Bose speakers strike the perfect balance of quality and price. Able to connect and play audio from virtually any source, these speakers are painfully easy to connect to your laptop or desktop computer, making it easier to enjoy quality audio without having to waste time (and money) installing countless and needless upgrades. For just under $100, you really can’t go wrong with these.

Bose Speakers Amazon