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TV as a monitor?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Towen7, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    I’ve been wanting to upgrade my old/cheap-o 27” 1080p computer monitor for a while now. I happened to stumble on a YouTube video of a guy using a 50” 4K set as a monitor. I presume he needed the size because he was reading electronic schematics and would have lots of detailed windows open at the same time.

    But it got me thinking... why not use a decent quality TV as a monitor? I’ve got a fair amount of flexibility on viewing distance so I believe I could probably comfortably go with a 32” display.

    Any reason I shouldn’t include TVs along with “monitors” for my desktop?
  2. CMonster

    CMonster Lazy Individual

    We use a TV as a monitor for our desktop computer. One thing to note is TVs are 16:9 and computer monitors are 16:10. I seem to remember it taking some fiddling to account for that slight difference in aspect ratio. The TV also powers off after a certain time (ours doesn't have an option to set that time) and has to be turned on which is a little annoying since it takes longer than a monitor.
    Randy likes this.
  3. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator


    I’m starting to like this idea more and more. I’m confident that the set powering off automatically and being slow to power on shouldn’t be an issue for the way be be an issue for the way we use the computer. It won’t power back on automatically when we wake the computer buy I think I can live with that.

    I checked and the computers we use at home all support a 1920x1080p output over HDMI.

    Most monitors have a single HDMI and a display port input. Every TV I’d consider has at least three HDMI inputs. That allows me to easily connect a game system without needing a switch or anything.
  4. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    If you are viewing at a reasonable distance, that could work, but there are risks:
    • Burn-In: While not permanent as with older TVs, the risk of burn-in is still possible and could require you run the repair screens to reduce or clear-up burn-in from time to time.
    • Pixel Clarity: Monitors place all three pixel colors closer together than most TVs. So, when sitting close to the TV a white pixel can look blurry on the edges where a little of the blue, red, and green shades are not visibly overlapping. This is reduced by sitting further from the screen.
    • Brightness: Monitors tend to be considerably brighter than TVs and that could wear out the backlight on a LCD style TV over time. The bulbs used in TVs tend to have a half-life, much like projectors, which under normal TV viewing is much longer than is necessary, but under the brighter monitor applications and longer hours of use when a monitor could be an issue.

    Basically, look at the TVs in sports bars or hotel lobbies and you can see how being on all the time and showing fixed content can wear them out. TVs are better today than in the past, but they are not perfect for monitor use. That said, if you can get a big TV for $400 to use as a monitor and need to replace it a bit more often than a monitor, it could still be much cheaper than a true monitor of the same size even after a few replacement cycles.

    One very important trick when using a TV as a computer monitor, be absolutely certain you adjust the PC output to be exact same resolution as the TV screen. Anything else can lead to the pixels shifting or vibrating on static images as a scaling engine in a TV is designed to anticipate motion and change across the screen while the scaling engines in Monitors are tuned for static content.
  5. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    Great info, thanks.

    Regarding wearing out ... I tend to use the computer for no more than a few hours at a time and several weeks may pass without it being used at all. But I do not auto-hide the taskbar so that area could burn/wear.

    The clarity may be an issue but I guess the only way to know will be try it.

    Thanks again for the info.
  6. Akula

    Akula Well-Known Member

    I've not had a great time plugging 4K displays into a computer. Even though they can usually drive the set at native resolution, doing so results in everything being much too small- even on a 70" monster in a classroom at my school. Just ends up being too much fiddling to make it look right.
    Towen7 likes this.
  7. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    I won’t use a 4K display, even though my computers are technically capable. I figure if I did that I’d need too large a screen placed too far away.

    I figure if the size of text is acceptable on a 28” 1080p screen at 3’.... that to maintain the same relative text size on a 4K resolution I’d need a 56” screen which at 3’ would be ridiculous.
  8. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    With Windows 10 you can scale the UI for high resolution displays. I do that on all my screens.
  9. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    For reasons I can’t comprehend my corporate machine is windows 7.
  10. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Famous

    I recall having to adjust the refresh rate when I hooked up the Mac mini (movie server) in my theater on the JVC projector to fit the screen size.
  11. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    I learned how to scale the UI on Windows 7 and once you get it right it tends to be pretty good, but sometimes certain apps fail to layout correctly. The tools are there, and they can be remembered for specific display setups, they just aren't obvious or automatic like they are in Windows 10.
    Towen7 likes this.
  12. Towen7

    Towen7 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    Good to know but probably not worth the hassle for my intended use. Besides the setup hassle and being significantly more expensive, 4K sets start at 40” which is probably at the jagged edge of the biggest I’d want to use.
  13. Akula

    Akula Well-Known Member

    I might recommend also price shopping some 2K displays (or similar resolutions). I have a 25" Dell UltraSharp (U2515H) in my office and I absolutely love this display. Looks beautiful, lots of screen real estate, several input options. I got this one at close out from Best Buy for a song (I want to say it was something like $160ish... could have been more, it's been a while). IMO, it sets the standard for what a computer display ought to be (and my family has some other Dell UltraSharps, they have all been fantastic performers).

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