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Think Twice Before Using HDTV As A Computer Monitor

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, TV Tech

Robert from Mississippi writes:

Like to know if I buy a 32″ or bigger TV monitor  can I keep my computer speaker hookup to my computer  or do I have to hook them up to TV monitor?

Robert, if you are planning on using the large screen primarily as a computer monitor, you’d be better off actually purchasing a 32″ or larger computer monitor as opposed to a TV. A monitor will give you a much better image. The difference between a TV and a monitor is that the television is set up to receive over-the-air broadcast signals and will probably have inputs that work with your cable or satellite provider and devices like game consoles and DVD players. A monitor is specifically designed to work with a computer.

Also, on a television your screen may be bigger, but the resolution may not increase. On a 32 inch TV, certain things may not look legible. Large format monitors offer more resolution and what you see on the screen will be easier to read.

But monitors are generally more expensive, you can get some sweet deals on large TVs if you you shop around.  One question I would ask is what you plan to use your large monitor for most often. Graphics cards can sometimes have issues with HDTVs, so if you are using it for gaming or anything that requires a good graphics card, you’ll probably want a monitor.

Now if you are using an HDTV for a monitor, you will need to make sure that your computer’s graphics card is HDMI-enabled.

Some HDMI enambed graphics cards will support audio on an HDMI connection through an HDMI cable, but not all. If that’s not the case with your computer, it’s possible you can connect a separate audio cable to the TV if it has an audio input.  Otherwise, you can use external speakers from your computer.

~ Cynthia

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7 Responses to “Think Twice Before Using HDTV As A Computer Monitor”

  1. Joel says:

    I strongly disagree with your statement “A monitor will give you a much better image.” VS

    I’ve got a 42″ HDTV that I used a lot as a monitor, and the picture has been awesome. And that is with using an RGB connection. My new Dell PC has an HDMI connection also, but I decided to try the RGB connection first. Since the picture was excellent, I decided to leave it that way. I just recently purchased a 23″ LED Monitor with ISP. I can find no difference in the quality of the picture on either the 23″ monitor, or the 42″ HDTV. They are both picture perfect. Absolutely breath taking. The only difference is the size. JOEL

  2. Kathy says:

    I agree with Joel. Things have changed over time and an HDMI TV is a good displaybfor a computer with an HDMI port. While I sat on the phone waiting for Best Buy to give me info about a monitor, I started wondering if the little TV in my kitchen would work. HDMI cable connected both, switched TV format to HDMI and there was a display that matched my newest Asus not-cheap notebook. I teach online and need to have multiple programs and pages open simultaneously. The screen on my laptop is never big enough. The TV is a perfect extension to my laptop display. Text is crisp and graphics stunning. Yes, I discovered you can use a TV in many ways as a display accessory to your computer.

  3. shubes says:

    I agree with Joel and Kathy. This used to be the case years ago, but not since digital TV became the norm.

    The main thing to watch for is resolution. A computer screen will look big, and won’t be able to “zoom out” to create a bigger desktop with smaller icons, because the TV screen can’t handle higher resolutions. That’s probably ok with most (especially older) folks. Some graphics chips can go well beyond 1920×1080 (aka 1080p) though, so using these on a TV limits their capability to display a lot of stuff, although they still work. Many older notebooks (and I think some current ones) can’t even reach 1080p, so it’s not an issue with them. Good idea though to use a TV as an extension display for a notebook!

    As with PC monitors, panel display quality suffers a bit when a resolution other than it’s ‘natural’ (also maximum) resolution is used. The best picture is achieved when the computer is set to use the display’s full resolution. If the computer’s graphics chip can’t reach this resolution, then results will not be optimal.

  4. Norb says:

    Guys a 42″ TV is not comparable with a 23″ monitor how could you draw the conclusion that tv is way better in this set up? Compare the same size and you will see the difference. On the other way TVs resolution stop at a point and only the size will be bigger hence pixels can be seen if you watch it closer. Thats the point between TVs and monitors (TV – watch from far, monitor – close). Basically monitors designed for image display they have a way better quality but less better audio speakers.

    • Ben says:

      I run a 10 metre (very very cheap – cost me $15 US) HDMI cable to connect PC to Receiver and have the Receiver pass the signal to the TV – everything works together and I get DTS sound when I play DTS movies.​

      I prefer using my HDTV to a monitor, possibly because I now wear glasses and find it more comfortable to achieve the same resolution (i.e. retina display) by sitting a little further from the TV than I would a monitor. I have two settings – slightly larger text for when I’m sitting 3 metres from the TV, and normal size text if I want to move in to about 1.5-2m sitting at my table.

      I recently considered upgrading my 2007 19″ HP monitor (1440×900) simply so that I can continue using my desktop whilst my Plex Home Theatre runs full-screen on the TV – but came to the conclusion that it’s just not convenient for me to set up deskspace and sit in front of the monitor. My current monitor just sits on the wall next to the PC box out of view, I use Wireless keyboard and mouse.

      As far as graphics cards (people worrying about actually DRIVING the beast) I have none now, I dumped my nVidia and just rely on my i3 graphics… works great for the HDMI playing full HD movies whilst browsing something else on my monitor.

  5. DW says:

    As long as the TV’s natural resolution is the same as you want displayed and same as your computer’s graphic capability, I don’t see a noticeable difference. For me that is 1080p resolution, but for my wife she would be happy with 720p. Most TVs nowadays have VGA input same as the average laptop output. HDMI carrying audio is better if available on both ends.

    • DW says:

      I should add that my comments apply to normal work computing. If you are doing gaming, you would want the faster monitors or spring for a higher TV refresh rate 120HZ or above.

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