Computer Projector Cables


Opening a projector box and seeing a mass of cables can be a bit intimidating. Which cables do I need? Which cables are used with computers and which cables are used to connect a VCR or DVD player? And what exactly is a "mouse" cable?

If you have ever found yourself at this abyss and ready to jump off, you are not alone. There are about as many different projector cables as there are flavors of ice cream. Fortunately, this mass of cables can be easily boiled down into 5 categories: computer image, computer audio, computer remote mouse control, video image and video audio. We will cover the basics of the computer projector cables in this article.

VGA Cable

The cable that carries the computer image from the computer to the projector is commonly called the VGA cable. This cable also goes by the name of RGB (for red, green and blue), 15-pin, or analog computer cable. This cable connects to the computer input port on the projector and the monitor output port on the desktop computer or laptop. The connector on the projector can take many forms depending on the model or manufacturer, but the connector on the computer is always a D-shaped connector with 3 rows of 5 holes each for a PC or 2 rows of 7 and 8 pins each for a Mac (hence the 15-pin name). The connector on the projector may be a standard 15-hole D-shape connector or it may be a unique connection that is proprietary to that specific manufacturer. The only time this becomes important is if you lose the VGA cable and need to buy a replacement. Otherwise, simply match the cable to the connector, plug it in and start presenting.

The computer mouse cable is
undoubtedly the most confusing cable of the group.

Audio Cable

The computer audio cable is most often a long, thin cable with identical connectors on both ends that look like small headphone jacks, similar to those used for portable CD players. This cable connector is known as a mini-jack or 3.5mm connection. The majority of projectors have this connection because they have an on-board speaker. The exception to this are a few micro-portable models, where weight and size are at a premium so a speaker was not built into the projector. Connecting the computer audio cable allows you to add audio to your presentation for emphasis of key points and overall enhancement of your presentation.

Mouse Cable

The computer mouse cable is undoubtedly the most confusing cable of the group. A computer mouse cable is not necessary to make the remote control command the projector's functions. However, it is necessary if you want to use the remote to control the computer's mouse function. In order for the projector's remote to control the computer's mouse, the projector and the computer must open a line of communication. And in order for the projector and computer to talk to one another, the mouse cable must be connected between these two pieces of equipment. The mouse port on a PC will be either a USB port type A (flat), PS/2 port (round with 6 pins) or a serial port (D-shape with 9-pins). A Mac mouse port will be either a USB port type A or an ADB port (round with 4 pins). The mouse connector on the projector is typically round and labeled "control port", unless it is the more familiar USB port type B (square). It is often necessary to have the computer powered off before connecting a mouse cable so that the computer can detect and prepare for the new hardware that is being connected.

Tech Note: Connecting a PS/2 mouse cable may disable your internal laptop mouse, depending on your laptop configuration. The internal mouse will once again be accessible after rebooting the laptop without the projector's mouse cable connected.

Computer projector cables come in many shapes and sizes, but basically perform only one of three functions: transmitting the image, audio or mouse commands between the computer and the projector. Once you decide how you want to use the projector for your specific presentation, you can connect the necessary cables to perform the functions that you desire. The most basic of presentations will always involve the VGA cable. Audio is a nice feature for multimedia presentations and can add a new dimension to your repertoire. And once you use a remote to control your presentation wirelessly, you will find that you can't live without it. You will find that knowing how to use the cables that ship with your projector will provide you with new tools to improve your presentations. And isn't that what's most important?

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