Planning to figure out cables to connect everything to my laptop to use it as a monitor once I can actually see the parts- advice on that so I could order those at the same time would be appreciated as well. (I suspect it would be DVI-VGA, male-female, but I'm not sure).
Derp took care of the rest, so I'll help you on this issue.
what you are probably seeing on your laptop is video out, not video in. I have never heard of a laptop accepting video in, but it's possible. Could you link you laptop please?