How to Connect Projector to Laptop Without VGA Port

Video Graphics Array (VGA) has been around for about 30 years and you are going to come across a situation where you need to connect a VGA port only projector to a laptop (like many MacBooks) without a VGA port. So how would you connect a projector to a laptop without a VGA port?

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is a digital signal while VGA is an analog signal. Using analog, information is transferred in electric pulses in the form of a wave signal. In HDMI the transmission of information is done in a binary (zero or one), or digital format.

You can still use the HDMI port on your laptop with a standard HDMI cable by using HDMI to VGA converters or adapters. There are several of these converters and adapters available on the market, the majority of the adapters cost less than $10.Be sure to use the HMDI to VGA converter and not one going from VGA to HDMI. These adapters are not multi-directional. They can only convert video in one direction, from HDMI to VGA or from VGA to HDMI.

How to Use a HDMI to VGA Adapter

First, make sure that the laptop is turned off. Connect the HDMI to VGA adapter into the HDMI port on the laptop. Next, connect the video cable to the adapter on the laptop. Finally, connect the other end of the adapter to the VGA port on the projector. You should turn the power on to the projector before starting up the laptop.

How to Use a HDMI to VGA Converter

HDMI to VGA converters are also called “scalers”. The difference between adapters and converters is that the converter will send audio signals in addition to the video signals. In addition to HDMI and VGA ports, converters will have a DC jack and/or a USB cable. If the converter doesn’t have a DC jack, you can use the USB cable to power the converter. HDMI to VGA converters run the gauntlet from about $30 to over $100. The cost depends on the features that they have and the level of professionalism that you may require, features like IR remote control operation.

The Limits of HDMI to VGA Connectors

HDMI to VGA converters, despite allowing video, and in some cases audio, do come with some limitations. They will transfer and convert video signals but they will not support conversion of the video resolution. HDMI will support up to 3820 x 2160 pixels but VGA is limited to only 800 x 600 pixels. Any resolution higher than the VGA-supported amount will not transfer through the adapter.

A second consideration would be in using a substandard cable. A lower quality cable may cause even more loss of video quality. When projecting a slide, say from Powerpoint, you may not notice this quality loss. However, the loss of video quality may be more noticeable when viewing actual video presentations, like movie clips.

In Conclusion

HDMI to VGA adapters, despite their limitations, are not only handy but also easy to use accessories when connecting a projector to a laptop without a VGA port. And in most cases, they come at very affordable prices.