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I'd like to run Hulu/Netflix/etc from my Fairly new mid-range Windows 7 box to two TVs. I'd like to eventually run dual monitors as well. What kind of set up would I need to do this?

Specifics:

  • HP desktop running Windows 7. 6gigs ram. Current using on-board video.
  • 1 HD TV (would like to connect via HDMI
  • 1 Standard TV (would need to connect via Component Video/Audio)
  • 1 old-school non-DVI LCD
  • 1 potential future DVI LCD

I'd likely never be using the computer monitor and one of the TVs at the same time. I'd never need to send video to both TVs at the same time.

Any suggestions for a setup? I see that there are several video cards out there that offer two monitor ports + 1 HDMI port. I'm thinking that'd be the way to go, then run the HDMI port to an HDMI splitter, one going to the HDTV and the other using an HDMI to Component cable to the standard def TV. would that work? Is there a better option?

EDIT: or...is there a magic video card that can do all of that?

UPDATE:

To clarify how I'd want to use this: I'd want one main monitor for computer use available at all times. The secondary output could be any one of the 3 devices, but would never have to be simultaneous. So the second display, ideally, could toggle between DVI, HDMI, and Component.

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Or...one other thought...is there such a thing as a switch that could go to HDMI or DVI? I could then have my main monitor, then the second monitor could toggle between the 3 outputs on the external switch. –  DA. Nov 29 '09 at 2:11
    
If you had all digital devices, then it makes this problem much easier. The problem is that you have to covert signal to VGA and component video. If you replace those devices with something that can take either DVI or HDMI, you can just get an HDMI splitter and convert to match the input. –  Doltknuckle Jan 14 '10 at 15:30
    
Might be better off getting a stand alone device for the TV. Like a Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player or a blue-ray player with Hulu/Netflix support (some Samsung models for example). Both can be had for around $100. –  Brian Oct 17 '11 at 3:57

2 Answers 2

I thought about this and you will need some extra hardware to make this work. The core of this sugestion is a video card with two DVI and an HDMI port on it. the rest are splitters and converters. The problem is that DVI and HDMI is digial where VGA and component are analog. While you can get hardware to convert that, it doesn't work that great. The advantage of DVI-I is that it transmits both digital and analog signals. With an adapter, you can have your video card transmit analog signal. From there, you can easily split a VGA signal and then convert it to Component as needed. Be prepared for a major drop in signal quality once to convert it to component. That type of signal is designed for low-def movie viewing only.

Here's the shopping list:

  • Any video card with two DVI and a single HDMI port. I found the Radeon HD 5750 by Sapphire on new egg. This includes a DVI to VGA adapter. link

  • A VGA to component converter. I found a StarTech one on new egg as well. This is a little more difficult to find an alternative for. link

  • A VGA splitter. This will split the analog signal between the two analoge devices. I found this on at a specialy cable store. link

  • Three (3) vga cables to connect devices together. In case you don't have enough or they are too short, you can get more here.

  • One (1) DVI cable to connect to your DVI monitor. link

  • One (1) HDMI cable to connect to TV. link

  • One (1) Component cable to connect to TV. link

Here's a wiring diagram of how I would set it up.

Created at cacoo.com

In case the above photo gets blocked, here's a quick explanation. One DVI port goes directly to a DVI monitor. The second DVI port has a DVI to VGA adapter and hooks into a VGA splitter. From there, one line goes to a VGA monitor. The other VGA signal goes into a VGA to component converter and then hooks into an analog TV. The spare HDMI port plugs into your HDTV.

From there, the only difficulty is setting up the desktop extension/mirroring to your needs. That might take a while to setup correctly. With this paticular video card, you could technically plug a display port to VGA adapter and do all of this without the VGA splitter.

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not all cards with "two monitor ports + 1 HDMI port" allow to drive 3 displays.

the ATI Radeon HD 5xxx series does have 3 separate display controllers, the entry level model (HD 5750) is currently selling from $140.

you would still need a second display adapter if you want use 4 displays simultaneously (e.g. a cheap PCI card with composite TV out).

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Ah, didn't occur to me to just get a single PCI component out. In that set up, do I end up with a quad-display? Or can one toggle between using the second DVI port vs. the HDMI port? Ideally, I'd have my main monitor, then some way to switch between either second monitor, HDMI out or Component out. –  DA. Nov 29 '09 at 2:10
    
well, it all depends on how many displays you want to use simultaneously, with a Radeon HD5xxxx you can drive 3 displays at the same time, if you only want to switch occasionally you can use a KVM switch. but if you want to use all 4, you will need an additional card. –  Molly7244 Nov 29 '09 at 2:17
    
Thanks, Molly. KVM Switch! That was the term I couldn't recall. I look into those as well to see if they offer any in multiple port options. Regarding your previous comment...on cards that have a VGA, DVI and HDMI port, but don't support all 3 devices at once (I'm guessing those in the $50 range do NOT), how do they handle switching amongst them? Is there a software level switch to go from the DVI to the HDMI port? –  DA. Nov 29 '09 at 2:23
    
it also depends on what you want to use the displays for and what type of expension slots are available on your mainboard. if you don't run really demanding apps/games, you might as well use 2 HD 4350 w 512 RAM for 30 dollars each. they do have 3 connectors (HDMI, DVI, VGA) but only allow for 2 displays simultaneously. –  Molly7244 Nov 29 '09 at 2:26
    
and as for the "software switch": no, not that i know of, but you can use a program like Powerstrip to setup and manage multiple display profiles for the various scenarios. –  Molly7244 Nov 29 '09 at 2:30

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