First, make sure your laptop has an output for a second monitor. Depending on the age of the laptop it may have a VGA, HDMI, both, or none at all.
Next make sure your TV has a matching input available. Most HD sets will have a VGA input, all will have HDMI.
Then all you need is the video cable of appropriate length and a 3.5mm to rca adapter cable for sound (only needed with VGA).
Once the connections are made the laptop may detect the tv and prompt you to make selections on how to utilize the new screen. If it does detect the tv, you'll have to change the display settings manually.
Some laptops are super simple, my 6 month old Toshiba auto-detected the TV right away and turns the laptop screen off when the tv is plugged in. (My preference for video streaming) My wife's 3 year old sony took about an hour to get the laptop to see the tv as a screen option and get the settings to work properly.
TIP: you may have to also change the screen resolution settings for the tv to display the image properly or at all for that matter. Our older Samsung plasma will only see a pc as an input if the resolution falls into a certain parameter.
Buy cables from monoprice.com, I had less than $20 into a 25' VGA cable and audio cable shipped when I did mine.
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