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Using an HP HDTV as a monitor

HP LC4276NI’ve got this 42″ HP LCD TV we bought a few years ago when HP was having a major blow-out sale after Thanksgiving. The TV was discontinued, and we got a massive discount on it. Ever since then, I’ve been struggling to get it working with a variety of Macs so we can use Front Row to play back our sizable movie collection on the nice widescreen display.

The TV supports 480i, 480p, 720p (actually 768p), 1080i, and 1080p. But if you’ve ever tried to hook up a computer to an HDTV via an analog connection (VGA), you know that just knowing the display resolutions doesn’t make it plug and play. But DisplayConfigX lets you set up custom display profiles to make your Mac work with just about any display.

For the longest time, I just didn’t have the patience to run through the trial-and-error process to get the display settings just right. But then I bought a nice iMac G4 1GHz with a bad LCD inverter. Hmm, perfect opportunity to get that LCD TV working…

So I finally sat down and took a couple hours to get the display working as a monitor on the iMac. Under the Timing menu for my monitor, I entered these values:
DisplayConfig X Timing Settings

  • Horizontal Active: 1360
  • Horizontal Front Porch: 144
  • Horizontal Sync: 144
  • Horizontal Back Porch 160
  • Horizontal Total (not editable): 1808
  • Vertical Active: 768
  • Vertical Front Porch: 18
  • Vertical Sync: 3
  • Vertical Back Porch: 14
  • Vertical Total (not editable): 803
  • Refresh rate: 59.993 Hz

The TV’s actual resolution is 1080p (1920×1080), but it supports 1366×768 (768p). I couldn’t get 1366 to work as a horizontal resolution, and the settings I used above were the best balance between my patience and image. There is still a pair of small black bands on the edges of the screen, but there isn’t any distortion, the image is pretty close to centered, and the iMac’s NVIDIA GeForce 4MX handles it easily. (Interestingly, DisplayConfigX insists that 1080p resolutions are out of range for the video card.)

For those looking for similar settings, my exact HDTV is the HP LC4276N which shows up to the Mac as an LC1080N in the Displays preference pane. Other models in this series are the LC4776N, LC4272N, LC4270N, LC3772N, LC3770N, LC3272N, and LC3270N. As I don’t have any of those other displays to test, I can’t guarantee that my settings will work with your TV, so your mileage may vary.

A final note for the curious: I disconnected the built-in LCD. Once the display is disconnected, the Open Firmware restriction against using external monitors in anything other than mirroring mode is lifted. However, if you don’t want to disconnect your built-in LCD, you’ll have to apply Screen Spanning Doctor.

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