Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Presenters need to be ready for both VGA and HDMI to be sure of getting connected

For anyone who prefers to present from their own laptop, let’s get just a little bit technical for a moment. It may make the difference between you delivering your presentation successfully - or being deprived from doing so. The deciding factor could be whether you find VGA or HDMI connections when you arrive.

I always recommend using your own laptop. You are completely familiar with its workings, and compatibility can be assured. You just plug it into the projector or screen when you arrive and away you go. It’s been about as simple as that for around 20 years because the standard for connecting a laptop to a projector or screen has been VGA plugs. It’s a bit different if, like me, you use a Mac because Apple have their own connections, but you simply use a little adapter that used to come with the Mac itself and is easily obtainable if not.

The potential problem for presenters is emerging at the other end – where the cable connects to the TV screens that are rapidly replacing the old projector/pull down screen set ups now that super-sized TV screens have become so affordable. TV screens used to have VGA connections but now tend to have HDMI only. So if you arrive geared up for VGA you are not going to be able to connect your laptop to the screen.

My advice, therefore, is to be ready for both VGA and HDMI. As a Mac user this means I have two adapters – one to put a VGA lead into my Mac, one for HDMI.  If you use a PC it probably has a VGA connection on the side, so you just need an adapter that converts VGA to HDMI.

While you are getting yourself kitted out treat yourself also to a couple of ‘gender changers’ which, as I have said before (here), are invaluable for joining one lead to another.  This means you can set yourself up where you want to be (ideally left-to-right in the audience’s view), rather than wherever the cable provided happens to stretch.

L to R: VGA adapter, HDMI adapter (for Mac); HDMI and VGA gender changers
All of these devices can be found online for just a few pounds each, or rather more if you visit one of those beautiful Apple stores. Speaking of which, those shops will now offer you a brand new, thinner-than-ever MacBook Air which has just one connection for everything including the power. Let’s go there for the moment!

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