I'm trying to connect my laptop (Windows XP) to a 32inch TV that I got over the holidays. As it is an older laptop it has no HDMI port so I can only connect it using a VGA cable. I can't find the correct resolution, and the display settings in XP don't go up to 1600x1280 (read somewhere else). But when I first power up my laptop the Windows XP loading screen comes up on the TV so I know its possible to do.
James, you have your Tv selected as an extension display of your computer, or screen 2 instead of screen 1. Click the "identify" selection in your display settings. if a large number 2 shows on your TV, then just go to the selections and switch primary displays. When you have it correct, a large number 1 will show on your TV as well as all your icons.
Check your display settings, video driver, etc.
Sometimes within your display settings, it lets you choose which "monitor" to use, 1 or 2. Also, check the video driver to see what is the highest resolution you can use. In either case, the TV should allow you to use the lower resolution, especially if you are connected via a VGA cable. You could also try a S-Video cable.
We usually connect our old Gateway laptop with WinXP to our HDTV using a S-Video cable for video and RCA-splitter to the headphone jack to get sound.