By selecting the right video card, you can expand your PC's capabilities at a low price

By selecting the right video card, you can expand your PC's capabilities at a low price

For a relatively low price, many video cards can add a significant degree of new functionality to your desktop PC. They can provide dual-monitor support, digital video interface (DVI) support, DVD acceleration and TV/VCR video input and output.

A card with dual-monitor support contains built-in circuitry that allows you to work with more than one monitor. DVI support enables connection to the latest generation of flat-panel LCD monitors, which require digital signal output rather than analog from the video card.

Because so many new PCs are equipped with versatile DVD drives, movie buffs will want a video card that supports DVD acceleration. Check product specs before you buy to make sure the card supports DVD playback, which is more sophisticated and processor-intensive than MPEG-2 video encoding.

Want to view a digital slide show or DVD movie on a larger screen? Video cards equipped with RCA-style connectors can output signals to TV sets or VCRs that have similar connectors. If you are interested, check to see if the card supports composite video or the higher-quality S-video connector, also referred to as S-VHS. An S-video connector enables output to and input from another source.

Some video cards include a cable connector, tuner and software that let you turn your PC or workstation into a television set. The cable connector hooks up to a cable TV or satellite feed, the tuner does the work and most software even lets users capture an incoming signal to record a TV show.

This approach can improve quality because computer monitors offer sharper resolution than typical TV sets, and PCs often come with superior audio speakers.

'J.B. Miles

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