Buying a Monitor That Will Be Compatible With Your Laptop

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Buying a Monitor That Will Be Compatible With Your Laptop

With mobile technology increasingly taking over every aspect of people's lives from work and school to recreation, laptop computers have become an essential tool for everyone. In that same time, the technology used to power laptops has concurrently advanced, allowing most high-end laptop computers to function with the same speed, memory, and skill as desktop computers. However, the one major difference between the convenience of a laptop and the utility of a desktop computer remains the size and function of the monitor.

By its very functional definition, the monitor attached to a laptop cannot be as large as a desktop's; this leads many consumers to invest in an additional monitor that will be compatible with their laptop. This way, users can get the best of both worlds: convenience and style. However, before buying a monitor that is compatible with your laptop, you need to understand what monitors are available, the connections possible, and how to use an external monitor with a laptop. In addition, important shopping tips, including the benefit of using eBay, which can make the purchasing process that much faster.

Basic Types of Monitors

There are four basic types of monitors that buyers can choose to purchase and connect to their current laptop computer. Each of these types of monitors has its own set of pros and cons which help dictate whether or not it is the right choice for the situation. These pros and cons, as well as a basic description of each monitor, are outlined in the table below.

Type of Monitor




CRT Monitor

The oldest and most basic type of monitor

Looks like a large box




Very large


Flatscreen CRT Monitor

Same as the above, but designed smaller as to save space

Sharper picture than a basic CRT monitor

Fairly inexpensive


Pictures tend to blur along the edge of the screen

LCD Monitor

Same technology used in laptop computers with a slimmer body and sharper images than a CRT monitor

Small, only 2 to 5 centimetres thick


Sharp images

Economic power usage



HD LCD Monitor

The most advanced option, but must have an HDMI input to display true digital images


HD and Blu-ray video capabilities akin to television

Can connect directly to gaming consoles, such as Xbox and PlayStation

Very expensive

Require special cables and HDMI video cards to properly operate


The four basic types of monitors listed in the table above are only a starting point in buying a monitor that is compatible with your laptop. Though the information provided here can help buyers understand what they want and what they need, it is equally important to note the requirements of the laptop itself.

Connection Cables

When buying a separate monitor for a laptop computer, making sure to choose the correct cable to connect the laptop to that monitor is as important as deciding on the type of monitor which will meet users' needs. This begins by checking out the back and sides of the laptop to see which connection ports are available. Users must know which connections are available to determine if certain types of monitors are off limits or if conversion cables are needed.

Standard Set-ups

Most basic laptops use standard set-ups to connect to external monitors. Usually, laptops have either a video graphics array (VGA) port or digital visual interface (DVI) port. Users can determine which of these ports their laptop features by counting the number of pinholes available for connection. VGA ports have 15 holes whereas DVI ports have 29. Most newer monitors are LCD and are capable of connections through both VGA and DVI ports. However, older CRT monitors may only have a VGA port available.

Conversion Cables

There are some instances when the standard VGA or DVI connection is not available. In these instances, a conversion cable is necessary. The first is the case when a laptop has neither a VGA or DVI port. This is a feature common among smaller netbooks. Here, the monitor needs to connect via USB input to a VGA-to-USB conversion cable. The other time when a conversion cable is needed is when users are attempting to connect a laptop to an HD LCD screen. Here, an HDMI export cable needs to be connected via a DVI-to-HDMI connector.

How to Use a Monitor with a Laptop

After deciding on the right type of monitor and obtaining the proper cables needed for a specific laptop, users are ready to set up the monitor to work specifically with their laptop computer. There are several steps to this process. It begins with completely powering down the laptop, as opposed to putting it into standby or sleep mode.

Next, users can plug the monitor and laptop into one another using the connection cables assessed in the previous section. It is important to match the colour of each cable to the input icon that appears on each piece of equipment. Also, when using VGA and DVI inputs, properly aligning all pins to prevent breaking or bending is essential.

Next, users should plug the laptop into a power source before powering on the monitor. Once the monitor's power button indicates that it is on, the laptop itself may be restarted. Usually, the laptop immediately recognises that the monitor is there and adjusts its projection to the new screen. In cases when this does not happen, it may be possible to activate the monitor by pressing the "display function" key on the laptop. This icon looks like a little rectangle flanked by two vertical lines.

Laptop Monitor Shopping Tips

In addition to choosing the right type of monitor to suit your needs as well as finding the proper cables that the laptop requires, there are several other factors that should be considered when shopping for a monitor. This is especially relevant when looking for an LCD or HD LCD monitor, which have flooded the market and are available in several different forms and at a variety of price points. These practical considerations include viewing angle, the ease of adjustment, and considering shine and glare.

Viewing Angle

If the main function of a monitor is video viewing, it is important to note the relative limitations that computer monitors present as opposed to standard televisions. LCD TVs are designed for wide angle viewing, and computer monitors are generally not. Therefore a monitor that is primarily used for viewing film, slide shows, presentations, and the like should be purchased with that viewing angle in mind. It may cost more money to get a monitor with the right proportions, but it is worth it in the end. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the numbers on the specifications, the better the picture.


Unlike CRT monitors, one of the advantages of LCD screens is their ability to tilt upward and downward. This allows users to customise their viewing angle according to their height, desk set-up, and chair. There are also monitors which allow users to adjust the height and that rotate 90 degrees from portrait to landscape views. This is a great feature for viewing websites as well as text documents. Some models may even have automatic controls which allow users control contrast and brightness.

Shine and Glare

The final feature to consider is the placement of a monitor in the home or office relative to the lighting of that particular room. Nowadays, computer screens are available in both glossy and matte finishes. Glossy screens are especially helpful in the flat, ambient lighting typically found in offices. The glossy finish makes images appear less washed out and deeper. However, glossy screens also reflect light, making matte screens a better choice for monitors that are near a window or mirror.

Buying a Monitor That Will Be Compatible with Your Laptop on eBay

There are so many places to buy computers and computer parts these days that, even after completing all the assessments already covered here, buyers can be equally overwhelmed with where and how to buy a monitor. Traditional stores are a good option, but may carry a limited supply. Similarly, it is a lot of work to compare prices across stores and even websites. Therefore, turning to eBay to buy a monitor that will be compatible with your laptop is a great way to save time and money.

Getting Started with eBay

Buyers who have not used eBay before can easily register for a new account. They may also want to attach their eBay account with PayPal as a means of making the purchasing process even faster and safer. Once that is set, searching eBay is easy. Buyers can begin at the head of any page on the site through the use of the main search bar. It is a good idea to start with general terms such as "LCD monitor", and then refine the results as they appear to apply to your specific needs.


Between travel requirements, mobile classrooms, and an increasingly on-the-go society, the use of laptop computers has exponentially increased through the beginning of the 21st century. However, often when at home or the office, laptop users need the function of a full-sized monitor. Indeed, there are several benefits to this set-up including better picture quality for graphic artists, larger display for video viewing, and the ability to easily share work with others.

However, buying a monitor that will be compatible with your laptop involves several steps. Buyers must know what type of monitor they want as well as which monitors are compatible with the connections in their laptop computer. In addition, it is important to understand how to set a laptop up for use with a monitor as well as to consider additional features such as viewing angle, adjustments, and shine. Once buyers are ready to purchase a monitor, there are many places to consider. eBay offers users a great place to buy a monitor that will be compatible with their laptops in a convenient, easy-to-use website.

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