My laptop requires that I hit a function key plus F5 to get video out of the video out port. What does the manual say about outputing video from the S video connector? I have a hard time believing that the cable is bad.
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You may have to adjust your monitor settings. That connections on a lot of laptops is not live unless you turn it on. Usually a laptop is just defaulted to the built in LCD display.
Some times one of the "F" number keys at the top of the keyboard will toggle between the LCD and the external SVideo connection, and/or leave them both on.
Check your owners manual.
there is a setting on your laptop somewhere that will allow you to turn on the "TV-OUT" function. try right-clicking over your blamk desktop, choosing 'Display Settings' and poking around there, maybe under 'Advanced.'
you'll find it eventually, but the picture might not be what you're hoping for. S-Video doesn't compare to a computer monitor.