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How to Fill Screen Watching Netflix by PC

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I am using an Acer laptop computer connected to a Toshiba LCD flat-screen TV to watch shows streaming from Netflix. Because the computer doesn't have an HD output, I use a VGA cable to connect the computer to the "PC" port on the TV.

The picture and audio quality are fine, but I haven't been able to figure out how to fill the TV screen. There is a wide, black band framing the image.

The TV has several options to enlarge the image; I often use them, such as to enlarge the image when watching wide-screen movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel.

But the TV's enlarging options (e.g. Widescreen 1, Widescreen 2, etc.) are grayed out when using the TV's PC input option. Is there a way to fill the wasted real estate on the TV without distorting the aspect ratio?

Thanks,
Bill
post #2 of 19
That means your laptop can't output 1920x1080 over VGA or your TV won't accept that resolution over VGA. Either get a computer/video card/TV that can, or get a netflix streaming box of some kind. Every gaming system can do it as well as disc players and streaming boxes from around $20 and up.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'll look into streaming boxes. We tried our Wii, using a component-cable connection, and the picture quality is really poor when compared with the picture from the laptop.

I suppose if a VGA to HDMI converter costs about as much as a streaming box, the latter would be the better solution.

Any downsides to a streaming box?

Bill
post #4 of 19
I don't use Netflix, so not sure what player are you using for that but usually
1. video display software on the computer should have whole bunch of adjustments to make sure the screen is properly formatted and centered
2. player itself should have some options to scale video to fill the screen
I'm not clear from your post if your problem requires #1, because whole screen is not properly formatted for your TV, or #2, where it's the player not filling full screen.
Also some newer TV's have programmable zoom, where you can adjust exactly how much of the screen is visible, not sure about your model, but I've seen some specific VGA adjustments on some TV's as well.
Buying whole new streaming box is kind of overkill, if everything else is fine except framing of the video, as I think there should be some way of adjusting it, unless you have other reason to go that way.
Personally, I think computer is much more powerful and flexible than any streaming box will ever be, but the box is easier to use.
BTW are you setting your laptop for TV display only, or using both screens at the same time? Because that could be huge problem, since if you're using both screens at the same time they need to share resolution and settings and most likely optimal settings for you LCD screen won't be the same as optimal settings for your TV.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Pete,

Some very good points.

I don't use Netflix, so not sure what player are you using

Not using a player. Connecting to Netflix directly via WiFi from the laptop computer, and hard-wired from the computer to the TV.

video display software on the computer should have whole bunch of adjustments to make sure the screen is properly formatted and centered

I'll check into that. The computer runs on Vista, and that OS has menus to set up the computer to interface with the TV.

Also some newer TV's have programmable zoom, where you can adjust exactly how much of the screen is visible, not sure about your model, but I've seen some specific VGA adjustments on some TV's as well.

It's a Toshiba LCD, about three years old. As I mentioned, the menu I can access from the remote has several options for changing the picture size, but all the ones that would do the job are grayed out when using the VGA "PC" connection. I'll explore a little further to see if there are other sizing options.

Buying whole new streaming box is kind of overkill, if everything else is fine except framing of the video, as I think there should be some way of adjusting it, unless you have other reason to go that way.

After a little investigating, I hesitate to buy a box because I've read some users' horror stories, especially about Roku devices (poor customer service, etc.).

Personally, I think computer is much more powerful and flexible than any streaming box will ever be, but the box is easier to use.

I don't have a problem with something more complex, if it does the job; and I'm inclined to agree with you. The picture and audio from the computer is quite good, even though the picture is VGA.

BTW are you setting your laptop for TV display only, or using both screens at the same time? Because that could be huge problem, since if you're using both screens at the same time they need to share resolution and settings and most likely optimal settings for you LCD screen won't be the same as optimal settings for your TV.

The computer screen is dark when using the TV.

Thanks for your well-informed insights and suggestions.

P.S. I have this thread set up for instant email notification but am not getting notices when folks respond. Anyone have that problem and/or know how to fix it?

Bill
post #6 of 19
As stated above, it sounds like your computer is not outputting 1920x1080 resolution, and since it's not a standard resolution, the image is scaled on your display. A vga to hdmi adapter will not help in this situation, because if the vga cannot output 1920x1080, the adapter wont make any sense except to change the output to hdmi.

You should look into your video card settings and see if you can change the resolution to 1920x1080. Make sure you are ONLY outputting to the external display, and not both the display and the laptop's screen.
post #7 of 19
Have you tried 'extending the desktop' (2 monitor setup) or 720P (1280X720) resolution on the laptop?
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'll give your suggestions a try and report back.

Bill
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
To summarize, I am getting the equivalent of a 31-inch TV screen (measured diagonally) on a 42-inch LCD set.

On our Vista-driven Acer laptop, the resolution options are:
  • 800 x600
  • 1024 x 768
  • 1280 x 600
  • 1280 x 720
  • 1280 x 768
  • 1280 x 800

The lowest setting had been chosen. When I connected the laptop to the TV using a VGA cable and tried to select a resolution other than 800 x 600, I got the message "unsupported signal," and after a few seconds the resolution reverted to 800 x 600.

Below is a screen grab of some info from the TV's manual:



The "PC Setting" feature applies only to moving the image around on the screen, not enlarging it.

Below is another screen grab from the TV manual:



Since the TV's HDMI options don't seem to match up to the laptop's resolution options, am I to assume that given the hardware I have, no option is available for filling the screen from edge to edge?

Am I correct that, as someone has mentioned, a VGA to HDMI adapter would not help?

Is a streaming box of some kind my only option? (Or just sit closer to the smaller image.)

Thanks,
Bill
post #10 of 19
Ok, now I understand your problem: every single resolution your TV is accepting on VGA is 4:3 ratio, your TV has 16:9 screen, at best you'll get similar picture size as SD programming with bars on sides, could be less. I have to say the options your TV has on VGA input are very, very limited and totally make no sense (only 4:3 ratios on 16:9 TV, who comes up with this nonsense?) and laptop doesn't have HDMI to take advantage of proper resolutions.
1. See if you can update TV firmware, maybe Toshiba came to their senses after customer complains and provided some other resolutions in later updates.
2. update video drivers on your laptop, if it's Nvidia or ATI even embedded on motherboard, go directly to them, not Acer, just pick proper driver for your card, it should work.
Play with other resolutions, not listed in TV manual, there could be some updates since the manual was printed to what's supported, even if there are no updates since TV was new. As a matter of fact computer should not list any resolution that is not supported by TV, as long as LCD is deactivated, are you forcing unsupported resolutions?
Not sure how much streaming box costs, but I've seen laptops for much less than $400, with HDMI port and that's your salvation, VGA support on your Tv is abysmal.
I never used VGA to HDMI adapter, no idea how it works, but VGA is analog - HDMI digital : this could be rather involved conversion.
BTW, I have 5yr old Westinghouse, considered low end maker, VGA resolution listing is like half page long and it goes all the way to 1080p, it's why I'm surprised at your limited options.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, and especially Pete.

At least now I have a clearer idea of what the challenges are.

I'm also surprised about the TV's limitations, since Toshiba generally has excellent products, and in many respects the TV has been outstanding. I'll check into firmware upgrades, although I've never tried that on a TV before.

Bill
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Stumbled across another thread on this forum titled "Official Toshiba HL67 Thread." Our TV is a 42HL67. Interesting discussions, some about firmware upgrades.

I'll have to investigate further.

Bill
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18 View Post

Below is another screen grab from the TV manual:


I am wondering why 720p resolution is marked as 720x480p?

I have 720p LCD and I'm feeding TV from PC via VGA cable. My PC (Window 7) automatically recognized TV native format and output from PC to TV is 1360x768 resolution. And all HD videos are shown in wide screen format.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

This thread has really helped me to understand more about my TV, which, by the way, is a Toshiba 42HL67. I understand now that when connecting my laptop to the TV's "PC" port via a VGA cord, I can get only a 4:3 ratio.

I would like to get some clarification on the statement made by Sitlet, who says:

As stated above, it sounds like your computer is not outputting 1920x1080 resolution, and since it's not a standard resolution, the image is scaled on your display. A vga to hdmi adapter will not help in this situation, because if the vga cannot output 1920x1080, the adapter wont make any sense except to change the output to hdmi.

No disrespect, Sitlet, but I'd like to get a second opinion on this statement. My laptop is widescreen (if that matters), and I was wondering, if I use a VGA-to-HDMI converter and connect the cord to an HDMI port, why I wouldn't be able to select a 16:9 ratio, since the HDMI option does support that ratio.

Obviously, this is all new territory for me, and Sitlet probably is right; I just want to make sure before dismissing that option.

Thanks!
Bill
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I apologize for the fragmented way that I am providing information, but I'm learning as I go along. I found the following in the TV's manual (yes, sometimes it does pay to read the manual):



Does this mean that an HDMI to DVI adapter will do the job? Are some laptops compatible with DVI and some not?

Also, I just realized that our laptop computer has an S-video output. Haven't done the research yet but am wondering if that's a way to fix the problem.

Thanks for your patience,
Bill
post #16 of 19
DVI is computer connector, compatible with HDMI but with different plug, you can buy cable with DVI connector on one side (computer) and HDMI plug on the other (TV). The only problem is DVI officially doesn't support sound (some do) so you need to run separate cable for sound. Does your laptop have DVI connector? That would solve your problem. You can order proper cable from Monoprice.com for less than $5. Since you didn't mention, I assumed your laptop has no DVI connector.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Re: "Does your laptop have DVI connector?"

No, it doesn't have a DVI connector. Just VGA and S-video.

I tried using the S-Video port. Upside, the picture fills the screen. Downside, the picture is less sharp and motion is less smooth.

So, I think we'll just accept viewing Netflix shows on the equivalent of a 31-inch TV, unless I decide to try a streaming box of some kind.

Re: "I have 720p LCD and I'm feeding TV from PC via VGA cable. My PC (Window 7) automatically recognized TV native format and output from PC to TV is 1360x768 resolution. And all HD videos are shown in wide screen format."

Just goes to show that not all LCD TVs are created equal. Using VGA, we get widescreen format, just not filling the entire screen.

Thanks again.
Bill
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18 View Post

Just goes to show that not all LCD TVs are created equal. Using VGA, we get widescreen format, just not filling the entire screen.

Does that include showing HD videos stored on your labtop?

If it is, then you are limited by capabilty of labtop video card to send HD signals (full wide screen) over VGA port.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm still struggling with this issue, trying to find the best solution.

Below is a summary of some facts:

1. My laptop is widescreen format.

2. On my widescreen LCD TV, VGA does not fill the screen because of a limitation of the TV's VGA input, as discussed in earlier posts to this thread.

3. On the other hand, the TV's HDMI inputs can be formatted to fill the entire screen.

4. When I use the S-Video output from the computer connected to the S-Video TV input, the picture DOES fill the screen, albeit the picture is softer than I like.

My question is, if I use a VGA to HDMI adapter, will the picture fill the screen, since the HDMI inputs to the TV can be formatted to do that? Or, as someone suggested, is the problem due to a limitation of the computer's video card? By the way, the info from the computer's manual is: 15.4" WXGA high-brightness (220-nits) Acer CrystalBriteâ„¢ TFT LCD, 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, supporting simultaneous multiwindow viewing via Acer GridVista. (If that helps.)

Below is a link to a typical unit found on eBay (although they can be found cheaper elsewhere)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VGA-Audio-HD...item336ac6c747

Thanks,
Bill
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