Question "Dual monitor problem": using a Win10 desktop PC to 'control' a TV screen (with physical HDMI cable connection)

Sep 29, 2020
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[Feel free to move this post to another appropriate subsection of the forum, my apologies]

Hi all,

I have been looking around the internet for days looking for a good solution to a weirdly specific problem.

Situation:
  • I have a desktop PC running Windows 10
  • I am planning to buy a TV-screen to watch content from my desktop (this could be a youtube video, a stream, a digital copy of a movie,...)
  • The TV is connected to the desktop with a HDMI cable (this is in a small room) and has no other connectivity. This is not a Smart TV. The TV has its own built-in speakers.
Should be simple right? I do not care about any other inputs than the ones I get to control from my desktop PC. I do not want to play games, I do not need a Smart TV, I do not want netflix,... I simply want to use my desktop to control what shows up on the TV screen. Seems very simple but, unfortunately, the problems I encountered were more numerous as I dived into my search.

The simplest solution would be to set up the TV screen as a second monitor. Just drag and drop your stuff on there and you can watch everything. The problem, however, is audio. If I want to show a stream on the TV (for another person to watch) but I also want to use my headset to listen to music without interfering with the TV's sound output (it has its own sound output), this will cause problems.

Additionally, I like to have the TV somewhat "separate" from my desktop, meaning that I do not like this dual monitor situation. Ideally, a person working on the desktop can "control" the TV, but what happens on the desktop stays on the desktop. This might be a weird quirk for some of you, but it is the nature of my question, so if you believe I should just get over it then you should not reply ;-). Not to mention I might want to upgrade to a dual monitor situation on my desktop in the future (effectively increasing the amount of monitors to 3 in total), which might just increase the amount of issues I would have.

Before I started my search, I thought that I would just look for a software solution. A program that I could install that would take the HDMI input coming from the TV screen and allow me to "manage" the content I want to show on there. As of right now, I do not think such a program exists. I have looked to maybe use the multiple virtual desktops Windows 10 comes with to maybe create a separate second environment for my TV screen, but this is not what that functionality offers, based on my current understanding.

So, here my questions:
  • Does a software solution like I described exist somewhere?
  • I have an nvidia graphics card (GTX 970) with its own HDMI output slot. Does nvidia offer a potential solution to this?
  • I have briefly looked into the streaming functionality of VLC media player to maybe "stream" to my output HDMI connection, but this does not solve watching a simply youtube video (without saving it to the hard disk first). Am I missing something here?
  • Do I need give up and maybe consider buying a "TV box" of some sort that connects to the internet indepedent of my desktop for ease of use? (not my preferred solution, since my PC is literally right next to the TV screen anyway...)
Preferrably, I do not want to make any additional purchases to solve my problems, not because I do not have the money but because of the principle. I have a fairly OK PC I spent a lot of money on a few years ago. It has served me well and continues to do so. The idea that I have all this computing/rendering power in my PC and it would be impossible to simply control an extra TV screen for a bog-standard viewing experience (not even 4K!) is pretty offensive to me. I am sure a solution must exist, so I am turning to you all to help me figure this out.

Thank you to whoever read through all that!
 

Math Geek

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as you've noted it is easy to use the second screen to view the content. as far as i know there is no way to separate multiple audio streams like you are looking to do. you've confirmed it yourself with your own searching for a solution.

i have personally never tried it but it is possible that a second sound card would allow for multiple outputs of different audio streams. the normal mobo audio would output through the hdmi to the tv and your second card could be default for your game or whatever and it would output separately. of course this would involve buying an audio card for the purpose.

using the single audio chip on the mobo does not allow for different streams to be separate like you want to do. it just does not work that way.
 
Sep 29, 2020
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as you've noted it is easy to use the second screen to view the content. as far as i know there is no way to separate multiple audio streams like you are looking to do. you've confirmed it yourself with your own searching for a solution.

i have personally never tried it but it is possible that a second sound card would allow for multiple outputs of different audio streams. the normal mobo audio would output through the hdmi to the tv and your second card could be default for your game or whatever and it would output separately. of course this would involve buying an audio card for the purpose.

using the single audio chip on the mobo does not allow for different streams to be separate like you want to do. it just does not work that way.
Thanks for reading through it and your input, unless someone else has a magic suggestion, I guess I'll just try the dual monitor setup method and see if I can live with that situation... Thanks!
 
Oct 2, 2020
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I found this. Should be able to achieve your audio goals with this. As for management of content for the second screen there is software that can accomplish such a thing but the primary use for such software is in digital signage. You might be able to tinker with one and get it to fit your needs. I don't know of any specific pieces of software but that type of software is probably your best bet.
 

Math Geek

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have you tested this out? i know you can change defaults like that but i never tried running multiple apps at the same time with the different settings.

that's the part i'm not sure will work. but if its built in, no reason not to give it a shot. won't hurt, that's for sure :)
 
Sep 29, 2020
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@CartV This is an interesting suggestion, I had not thought of digital signage as a software category to look around for. Unfortunately, this kind of tech is so marketing related that google searches (and even sourceforge) are cluttered with all this "Cloud-based signage for you business todayy!!" stuff that is hard to weed through, since my own needs are so much more simple. If you think of something that might work, let me know. Thank you for taking the time to reply!
 

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