|"I was going to buy a VGA to HDMI converter to plug into my HDTV,..."|
I don't think there is any such thing that would work with a VGA port.
Both the laptop video, or some video adapter connected to it, and the TV have to support HDMI video.
You can get a simple DVI to HDMI adapter that will work with certain main chipset's integrated video, or certain video cards chipsets, that support HDMI, with their DVI ports, and you can get a simple DVI to VGA adapter that supports using a VGA connection on a DVI monitor port, but you can't convert a VGA port to DVI output with a simple adapter because the VGA circuits don't have enough connections to make DVI work, and therefore a simple DVI to HDMI adapter wouldn't work either.
You CAN get a USB video adapter that can output HDMI.
See response 1 in this:
Or , for less cost
If the TV has a VGA port input, use a VGA video extension cable, probably male connectors on both ends, between the two VGA ports