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It’s real easy to be a ‘mouse potato’

When you’ve got a beautiful, wide-screen television and a cushy recliner nearby, why sit at your desk to surf the Internet? With a few simple steps, you can easily earn the coveted new rank of “mouse potato.”

The first step is to connect the computer to the television. Your television must have a VGA, DVI or HDMI “IN” port to receive your computer’s input. The cable from your computer to the TV must be matched to its port at both ends. Many monitors have an attached video cable, so you may need to purchase a detachable cable.

Many televisions have a VGA port on the back, similar to the port on older computer monitors. VGA, SVGA or HD15 ports are trapezoidal, with three rows of five pins. Monitor cables usually have a blue connector with attached screws that should be fastened securely. VGA and SVGA connections are for the transfer of video graphics data. If sound is needed, audio cables also will be required with VGA, SVGA and DVI.

Many new computers have DVI or Digital Visual Interface connectors for use with higher quality displays. These typically white plugs have a more complex arrangement of square pins and plates. There are several types of male DVI connectors and one standard female DVI port.

HDMI connectors — High-Definition Multimedia Interface — are standard on HDTVs and on many new laptops and desktops. HDMI transmits uncompressed digital data for video and audio.

A computer’s motherboard will determine the type of video output available. A PC card may be added in order to utilize a different type of port. Not all motherboards will support the newest technologies. Windows Media Center is best suited for TV use. Media Center Operating Systems provide accessibility and customization of music, pictures, movies and TV. Larger icons and text facilitate viewing from a distance.

Once the computer is relocated near the TV and the cable is connected, boot up the computer and the TV. Consult your computer’s manual to set it up to receive the new input. You may need to specify “RGB,” or on older computers “Game.” The desktop computer should recognize the monitor has been changed. A laptop computer has a function-key for switching between its attached screen and an external monitor.

Use of a wireless mouse and keyboard completes the package. Mount the receiver in clear view of the keyboard and mouse. An accelerometer mouse or “air mouse” detects your wrist motion to move the cursor.

An air mouse is a must-have when your arm rests are fully cushioned.

Patty Harshbarger, owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton. She can be reached at patty@