Content of the material
LCD HDTV as a Computer Monitor
With the falling prices of LCD HDTV’s many people are considering using a LCD HDTV not only as a TV for watching your favorite Hi-Def movies and shows but also as a personal computer monitor. This allows you to merge online music, video, web surfing, and all your HDTV programming from cable into your living room with a large screen. There are advantages and disadvantages to using your HDTV as a computer. This article will go over these key points so that you can make an educated decision on your investment.
A Note for Gamers
Those who play games on PC’s and require monitors that have response times of 5ms or better will be glad to know that most modern HDTV’s are now in that range.
Gamers who have not researched this are under the impression that LCD TV’s have a slow response time, as high as 20+ ms. But I’m finding them in the 5ms range, such as the 24 inch Vizio I mentioned above that I’m using.
Vizio even has a 47-Inch Widescreen LCD 3D TV (Model XVT3D474SV) with a 4 ms response time.
I already had received thanks from a few gaming enthusiasts for guiding them to use a good quality HDTV. They saved money, and since the sound with games is extremely important too, this solved their problem of having to use external speakers.
The feedback I've received is that they like having less clutter. The built-in high-quality speakers in an HDTV eliminated the need for having another item on their desk.
The HDTV's built today have the same technical specs as a PC Monitor. Just remember to buy a TV with 1080 pixels. And for decent gaming speed you’ll need one with 120 Hz refresh rate.
Using A 32 Inch TV As A Computer Monitor
· After researching using a large TV as a computer monitor I would recommend the following: Buy a full HD 1080p TV with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – a lower resolution just isn’t good enough for the size of screen so text may appear blurry.
Seen 132 times
Samsung HDTV as Monitor Pixelated
· Recently purchased a 32" Samsung EH5300 HDTV and connected it to my PC with a HDMI-HDMI cable. It's running at it's native resolution of 1920×1080 and so is the computer. It's also running in PC mode. However all text is very pixelated and …
Seen 122 times
If you do use your LCD HDTV as a computer monitor you should get a refresh rate of 100 MHz or more. The refresh rate is the amount of lines on the LCD HDTV which can be changed per second. Some LCD screens are as slow as 60 MHz while the standard with computer monitors is 70 or 75 MHz. Too avoid any degradation of picture quality try to find a LCD TV with 100 MHz or more.
HDTV features to keep in mind
If you’re turning your HDTV into a PC-backed multimedia powerhouse, and you plan on using it primarily as a television and streaming hub—e.g. a screen you’ll continue to view from several feet away—it will probably look fine. But if you’re trying to stick a 60-inch HDTV on a desk, you’re more likely to end up with headaches and eye strain.
There are a few different factors to keep in mind if you want to use an HDTV as a computer monitor.
Pixel density, or the number of pixels packed into one square inch of screen (measured in pixels per inch or ppi), is the most important factor to consider. A 15.6-inch laptop screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution has a pixel density of 141.21ppi, while a 32-inch HDTV screen with the same resolution has a significantly lower pixel density of 68.84ppi. The lower the pixel density, the less clear and detailed the image becomes.
But the importance of pixel density decreases with viewing distance. The further you sit from a screen, the lower the pixel density need to be for you to have a comfortable viewing experience. You won’t have any problems looking at a 15.6-inch/141.21ppi screen from two feet away, but you will find it much harder to view a 32-inch/68.84ppi screen from the same distance. This is why a “Retina” screen on the iPhone has a pixel density of 326ppi, but a “Retina” screen on the Macbook Pro has a pixel density of just 226ppi.
A normal user typically sits between two and three feet away from a desktop monitor. To comfortably view a monitor at this distance, you should aim for 80ppi or higher. This means that for 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution, your screen should be no larger than 27.5 inches diagonally, and for 4K sets, you’ll want to max out at 55 inches, like the $700 TCL 6-series 4K UHD quantum dot TV shown above. It’s our favorite bang-for-buck HDTV.
Important: “4K” is not a market standard. A 4K HDTV can mean 4x720p (3840×2160 resolution) or 4x1080p (4096×2160 resolution). Most models use 3840×2160, but you should check the exact specs of your model to determine pixel density.
Input lag is the delay between movement you make on your input device (in this case, a mouse and keyboard) and what displays on your screen. While most computer monitors prioritize minimal lag times, HDTVs generally do not—they prioritize (laggy) video processing instead. These extra milliseconds may not seem like they matter, but they will make a massive difference if you’re trying to do something like competitive online gaming.
DisplayLag maintains a good database of input lag times, sortable by display type. An input lag of less than 30 milliseconds is considered good for an HDTV if you’re using it as an HDTV. For a computer monitor, you’ll want to aim for less than 20 milliseconds, and the lower you can go, the better.
Often confused with input lag, response time describes how long it takes for a display’s pixels to switch colors between scenes. HDTVs and computer monitors can have very different response times. HDTVs tend to prioritize richer colors, higher contrast, and wider viewing angles—all of which lend to a longer response time. Computer monitors tend to drop some of the image processing and viewing angles for faster response times. If you use a display with a slower response time, you may see “ghosting” in fast-paced video and gaming sequences.
Some HDTVs have a “game mode” setting, which cuts some of the image processing to improve both input lag and response time. If you plan to play PC games on your TV, definitely dig around in your HDTV’s options to see if it has this feature.
Another factor that may affect performance is a display’s refresh rate. Refresh rate is the number of times a display “refreshes,” or re-draws, its image each second. Most modern displays have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which means they refresh their image 60 times per second. But you’ve probably also seen higher-end gaming monitors and HDTVs with higher advertised refresh rates—120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240Hz. This can be misleading, however, because a computer monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate may not be the same as an HDTV with a 120Hz refresh rate.
The reason for this is because the content people watch on a television is produced at either 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps. The content people view on a computer monitor can be very different—many games can output frame rates higher than 60fps if you have a powerful enough graphics card.
An HDTV with a high advertised refresh rate may use post-processing technology to achieve that rate, such as by creating additional frames to upscale content, or by adding black frames between each frame to prevent image blur. The good news is that this probably won’t make a difference if you’re not playing PC games at very fast frame rates. But if you have a PC designed for the best possible gaming experience, hooking up an HDTV instead of a computer monitor likely means that you’re not getting the most out of your machine.
Timothy Arends from Chicago Region on February 04, 2020:
I'm glad to hear this. I'm thinking of setting up a VR system with a gaming PC in the living room, and a monitor is needed with any PC for setup and troubleshooting purposes, but I do not want the clutter of having both a monitor AND a TV in the living room. It's a big help if I can use the same screen for both purposes!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 31, 2017:
Suhaas Ramesh – Don't worry about PPI as long as you get at least a 1080p HDTV no larger than 24 inches as discussed in this article. If you want something larger, then I recommend getting one that's 4K so you have good resolution of small text. Most TVs sold today that are 24 inches or larger usually are smart TVs, so no need to have to choose that or not. Anyway, why would you not get a smart TV since they are no more expensive than regular TVs. Your options may be different in India, so I hope my answers are helpful.
Suhaas Ramesh from Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on July 31, 2017:
Hello Mr. Stok,
You have written a extremely well-researched article. It is very informative and helpful! Reading others comments and your responses to their queries was insightful too.
Here are few reasons why I want to opt for a large display (monitor or full HDTV) for my computer:
1. If you notice most people (including me) who use laptops tend to tilt head down with back bent and slouched most of the time. This is very uncomfortable and doesn't help in maintaining a good posture while sitting and working on a laptop especially for long hours. In order to avoid serious health issues, I plan a invest in a large display for my computer. I believe that using a large display will help me maintain a good posture since I'll have to lift my head, erect my spine and maintain my torso parallel to the display without leaning forward too much.
2. I believe that having a large display could help me focus, be efficient and enable me to produce quality work.
3. My current laptop is HD (720p), not full HD (1080p). So, I want to go for a higher screen resolution so that my content appears sharper and crisp.
4. I'm unhappy with the max sound that can be achieved with the built-in speakers on my laptop. By owning a HDTV, as you have mentioned, I don't have to invest in additional speakers since HDTVs comes with with high quality built-in speakers that provide max sound compared to monitors that either don't have speakers or come with poor quality speakers. Saves a lot of space on my study desk/computer table.
5. HDTVs can be used both as TV and monitor. As you have highlighted, screen resolution and PPI is pretty much the same for 24-inch displays. Therefore, I don't have to buy a TV tuner.
However, I have a few questions for you.
1. Most TV catalogs don't mention anything about PPI in HDTVs. They only mention screen resolution. A commoner or someone who is less enthusiastic about technology and tech specs would easily overlook such crucial info. I'm so glad I came across your article. How do I determine PPI in an HDTV?
2. Since I would be accessing the internet through my computer, I thought of going for standard full HDTV rather than a smart full HDTV. Also, I've noticed that it is quite uncomfortable to use apps on an HDTV. Typing is so tedious and time consuming when you are accessing content on an app like YouTube and it makes me feel very clumsy. Do you think it is necessary to choose a smart full HDTV over a standard full HDTV?
3. I learnt that 4K UHDTVs comes with 8.3 million pixels and with high PPI. Therefore, large TVs can be viewed from a short distance. I'm not sure if 4K HDTVs come in smaller display sizes like 24-inch or 32-inch. Do 4K UHDTVs come in smaller screen sizes preferably 24-inch?
4. The biggest issue I'm facing is that I'm unable to find 24-inch standard full HDTVs in premium TV brands such as Samsung, Song, LG, Panasonic, etc. in any of the electronic showrooms my city (Bengaluru) including online retail websites like Amazon India and Flipkart. Standard HDTVs come with only 720p. The full HDTVs starts with sizes that are 32-inches and above and are smart TVs. Amazon India lists other TV brands that offer smart full HDTVs but they aren't popular brands. I'm unsure about the warranty or the quality of service they provide. Is there a TV brand that you would recommend other than the one you own which is available in most of the countries?
5. In your article, you have pretty much covered everything one needs to know about using an HDTV as computer display. Still, is there anything I should know before purchasing my HDTV?
I'll gratefully appreciate your reply.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 01, 2017:
Great Janet! As long as you stick to the technical recommendations, as I see you clearly understood, your son should be very happy with it. Please report back here with a comment on the outcome.
Janet Boles on March 31, 2017:
Thanks for this information. I googled this exact thing and got your article. We were wanting to get our teen a TV like this and put it on his desk so it could be a TV/ computer. Just about the right size and all. My main concerns were would it really work like we thought and which ones would be the best to choose… We wanted a smart TV also.. Well I think you have answered all my questions and then some lol!!! Will take all your technical advice on size, 1080p HDMI etc… Thanks so much.. people taking the time to post their successes is what helps others so much.. My son will also thank you!!!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 19, 2017:
Brian Adams – I'm actually surprised you had no problems with text on a 720p TV, especially since you were using such a large screen. Even a 24" screen requires 1080p when using it as a computer monitor. Since you plan to stay with 42 inches with your new monitor, I recommend going with the highest pixels available with the present technology, and that is 4K.
Brian Adams on February 19, 2017:
For the past 5 years I have used a 42" 720p TV as a computer monitor at about 10 feet from where I sit. For the most part I use it for photo editing and some Word/Excel documents. I am now looking at upgrading to either 4K or 1080p. From what I have read it seems as though the 1080p has fewer potential problems with set up. I know you are commenting on 24" monitors, but do you have any comment on using 4K or 1080p?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 25, 2017:
Jerry Griswold – If your TV has two HDMI ports then connect your cable box to one and the laptop to the other. The TV itself has an option in it's settings menu to select the input you want to use.
Jerry Griswold on January 25, 2017:
How do I move between cable tv and my laptop. Do I need a TV with two hdmi ports and some sort of switch? The cable folks left me their remote and an hdmi cable. My laptop is ready for hdmi. Just trying to figure out how to move between.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 27, 2016:
Dominick – Thanks for sharing your experience with a 40" TV. Of course, since it's 4K, you have no problem. However, you're paying for the advantage. That's fine if that's the size you want for your computer monitor, but most people don't need 40" for desktop monitors. That's why this article is focused on smaller size monitors.
Dominick on December 27, 2016:
I am using a tv as monitor as well…I am using the Samsung 4k smart tv at 40"…I have to tell you I thought it was going to be too big but r is absolutely perfect reason being the 4k works perfect at the distance I am sitting from…and it did NOT require a lot of adjustments whatsoever…the detail, the pixels…EVERYTHING…just works…so just wanted to share that as well…and keep up the great post!!!!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 22, 2014:
Writer Fox – Thanks for sharing this with your followers. Glad you found it useful. I've been using the Vizio HDTV for almost a year now as my computer monitor and still am amazed at the quality of the video and the sound.
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on September 22, 2014:
You've convinced me to look into the VIZIO Smart TV. I appreciate your thorough review of this and the other options. What you said about the price comparison is amazing, too. Voted up, highly useful! and shared.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 13, 2014:
heidithorne – That's why I use a 24-inch screen. One wouldn't want a 70-inch screen for a computer monitor for sure. Your graphics design work would be great on an HDTV. And by the way, it IS a real screen. The technology used in a High Definition TV is the same as used in a computer monitor (as long as you go with 1080p). And a TV provides improved audio without the need for expensive external speakers.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 13, 2014:
My husband does the same thing with a humongous TV! For me, it's just too large to view and so bright it makes my eyes hurt. But I think a smaller version of it would be usable for sure.
I think the only concern I would have is with some graphic design stuff I do. It would look so amazing on the screen, that I may forget to see how it looks on a real screen. 🙂
But it is tempting!