A VGA connector is found on many AV components, and is mainly used for connecting computers with your equipment.
It is a relatively old connection type now, but it still has its uses so don't be surprised if you run into one of these from time to time.
Here we look at this connection type and consider its use.
The VGA connection on your device looks like this.
It is a female 15-pin D-sub port.
The 'D' shape ensures that VGA cables will only fit one way round. It is often coloured blue or black.
A VGA cable looks like this.
It will have a male 15-pin D-sub connector, which obviously fits nicely with the female connector on your hardware.
Be careful when plugging this in, as you can bend the pins fairly easily unless you are careful. If you find it isn't going in easily, check for any bent pins on the cable end.
If you see some that aren't aligned properly, you can carefully straighten them up with some tweezers or a small pair of pliers.
A VGA connector on your AV equipment is normally there for you to connect your PC or laptop.
This connection type will usually be designed to receive an analog RGB signal from a connected device - which is the type of signal that you get from a computer. It supports standard-definition and high-definition resolutions.
It does not transmit audio signals and so a separate audio connection will be required to hear any audio.
The standard 15-pin D-Sub connector is common on many computers, and therefore you can use VGA to VGA cables to send a computer image to your TV screen.
If you want to connect your PC or laptop to your TV or projector.
However, if your computer or laptop has a DVI or HDMI output then it would usually be better to connect using this type of connection.
If your output device only has a VGA port, or you have no spare DVI or HDMI inputs, then then a VGA connector like this should still give you a good image.
In case you were wondering, VGA stands for Video Graphics Array.
It was developed in 1987 by IBM for an original display resolution of 640 x 480 pixels - although the standard can be used for 1080p high-definition resolutions and above.
To get a sharp computer image on the TV screen, you will need to ensure that you set the output resolution of the computer to match the native resolution of the TV. The image will appear stretched or blurred if you don't do this.
Also, depending on the native resolution of your TV and the output capabilities of the graphics card in your computer, you may not be able to fill the whole screen with a sharp image as the output resolution may not match the TV exactly.
If you are using a laptop, then you will usually need to press a combination of keys to send the image to the TV - for example function + F7. This will vary between models and so consult your manual.
Sending a computer image to your television is more difficult if you have a VGA port on your computer, but you don't have a VGA connection on your TV - or vice-versa.
You can buy fairly cheap converter adapters, but be aware you may have some limitations. For example you won't be able to play copyright protected material as there will be no HDCP connection - and you may require a separate audio connection.
Also check which way you need the signal to go and buy the appropriate adapter. An adapter will be specific for HDMI to VGA - or VGA to HDMI - like the VGA To HDMI scaler/converter pictured above (which also sends the audio via a USB connection).
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.