How to Connect a Projector to a Laptop

Steve Scott

Last Updated on

Projectors work for a large variety of functions; business meetings, home theater projectors, gaming projectors, and other multi-media activities. Given the wide range of activities and equipment that can be used, connecting to a projector can vary from device to device. In the case of laptops, some have HDMI ports available, while others utilize VGA or other connection types.

Connecting your laptop to a projector:

  1. Identify what ports your laptop has available.

The picture below shows the side of a laptop with a VGA and HDMI connector.

VGA and HDMI connector.
  1. Identify what ports your projector has available.

The picture below shows a projector with both HMDI and VGA connections. Either connection will work; it will usually depend on what connections your laptop has available.

HMDI-and-VGA-connection
  1. Turn your laptop on and place it in a safe place that is close enough for your display cable to easily reach the projector. If you plan on using your laptop for an extended period of time, you may want to plug it into its charger.
  2. Ensure the projector is properly plugged in and turn it on.
  3. Locate either the VGA or HDMI port on your laptop and projector and properly insert the cable.
    • Note that VGA cables have two screws built into each side of the cable. Hand tightening them can ensure the cable remains connected if either the laptop or projector is bumped slightly.
  4. If the projector is not displaying your laptop screen, look for an ‘INPUT’ or ‘SOURCE’ button on the projector and make sure that it is set to your connection type. Modern projectors take multiple types of inputs, so if you are connected to the HDMI port, change the input to HDMI. Same for VGA.
  5. Adjust the projector my moving it further or closer to the screen and focusing the device by focusing the lens. Change color, sharpness, and other settings if desired.

Note that if the projector does not display your laptop screen when connected, ensure that the cables are properly connected (and fully inserted) to both the laptop and projector. 

You may also need to check the ‘Display Settings’ on your laptop to ensure that the screen will either ‘Duplicate’, or ‘Extend’ your laptop screen. Google and YouTube are always great sources if you are still having issues connecting and need to diagnose the problem.

Top projector brands

Depending on your intended use of the projector, you may want to spend more or less money to get a higher resolution projector that has other display enhancement features. As an example, if you are getting a portable projector that can display presentations in a business setting, you may not need the top of the line equipment.

However, if you are buying a projector for your home theater or gaming setup, it may be worth paying a higher cost to get the best possible picture and clarity. The two main technology types that are used in home or business projectors are LCD and DLP. 

DLP is typically more expensive but offers higher quality images. LCD projectors can still offer a high quality picture. However, it may not have quite the as vivid of an image. If you're interested in knowing more about this topic, check out our guide on DLP vs LCD projectors

You can use this information to narrow down what options are best for you. Below are some of the best brands available for projectors.

BenQ projectors

BenQ PB7200

Available on amazon prime and often listed as an editor’s choice or gifted the ‘Amazon Best Selling’ tag, BenQ offers a large range of projectors with excellent customer service.

BenQ prides themselves on customer satisfaction and provides a large portfolio of options, from effective low-cost options, and high-performance models that offer up to 4K resolution and are considered one of the best 4k projectors

Their projectors run on DLP or Digital light processing, which is the highest quality available short of LCoS, which is only used in projectors costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars; not the average home theater. Whatever your need and price range are, BenQ is as good of a choice as any.

Sony

SONY-VPL-HW45ES projector

A well-established electronics company, Sony is known for the highest quality of projectors on the market. A heavy majority of their projectors are made for the home theater space and are available in 1080p, 4K as well as 2D and 3D options. 

They do offer options for business and education, however, only a few of their offerings fall below the $1000 mark. The difference between their low end and higher end offerings are the technology under the hood. 

The lower end offerings utilize LCD technology while the higher end uses their proprietary SXRD technology. If you’re in the market for a high-end projector, its hard to go wrong with Sony. The price reflects their use of high-end technology.

Optoma projectors

Optoma-UHL55 projector

Optoma offers a wide portfolio of DLP projectors and even offer outdoor movie projector options. Optoma should be seriously considered if you are looking for a high-end home theater option

Optoma UHD60 is among the highest selling 4k models due to its powerful technology at a more reasonable cost. Praised for its value, Optoma has won numerous awards from Best Buy, review.com, and WhatHiFi.

Epson

Epson-VS240

If you’ve been in large academic or business settings, you’ve likely seen a projector turn on with a large centered ‘EPSON’ on a blue screen. Epson is one of the longest standing manufacturers of projectors in the US and considered to make one of the best business presentation projectors.

Given their price ranges, they are effective for education (as low as $300) and offer high-end products in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars range. Epson is most commonly known for its durability and value, as their lamps are known to last for a very long time (minimum two years).

It’s hard to go wrong with Epson; the only challenge may be finding the best projector that they offer for your personal situation given their wide array of choices.

Canon

Canon LX-MU800Z projector

Like Sony, Canon is a well-established electronics brand known for cameras and printers as much as their projectors. Canon specifically focuses on education, business, and medical applications, and also offers compact options.

While they may not be a suitable option for a high-end home system, they make a strong case to be used in the classroom or on the road for business. Their projectors use LCD technology while still offering high resolution.

Another bonus with Canon is their lens technology, that is rapidly replaceable. Most projectors on the market involve a rather laborious effort to replace a lens or lamp.

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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