Use TV Monitor as a Computer Monitor, Is It Worth It?

Posted on May 16, 2020.

Looking at TV screen that seems so much bigger than the desktop monitor, it is normal to have thought to use TV monitor as a computer monitor, is it worth it? Obviously, we are talking about flat panel TV which is probably HDTV too. Both TV and computer monitor share a lot of technology. However, they are built to deliver a different kind of viewing experiences and performance. TV models and features are perfect for passive viewings like sports match and movies, but they may not necessarily ideal for more interactive task like computer monitor serves. So, to answer the question above, let’s take a closer look. We can start by examining the purpose of the use and how the hardware fits.

User’s Monitor Primary Usage

There are many variable factors on monitor usage, but there are only two basic categories derived from there. First, it is users with daily PC and monitor usage. It includes activities like checking and sending emails, working with Photoshop, and writing documents. Second, it is users with entertainment usage. These users mainly use PC and monitor for playing games and watching movies. To really have an answer for the above question, let’s break down those categories and see deeper with note that the compatible TV here is the HDTV that already has somewhat the same resolution as PC monitors.

For Daily Computing Purpose

Writing, reading and sending email, browsing for articles on the internet, and any similar activities require good resolution to see text clearly. In this aspect alone, TV monitor is no longer enough. With HDTV has lower resolution, text will be hard to read and look fuzzy. Assuming the same 1080p resolution, a 32” TV monitor can sport similar resolution as 27” monitor can offer. However, the additional 5” will be blown out. This issue is what makes text look fuzzy and hardly readable. User can try with smaller TV monitor, below 32”, but the new issue will be even lower resolution which is commonly 720p. It is safe to conclude that TV monitor isn’t friendly enough for daily usage considering its’ resolution. In addition to it, the size and ergonomics of TV monitor is tricky. When eyes are about two inches lower than the top of monitor, user gets the ideal position already. This is hard to achieve with the size of an HDTV, not to mention needed distance to allow users’ eyes to see on all surface of the monitor.

For Entertainment Purpose

It is a whole different story when the usage is mainly for entertainment. Built to display movies and games perfectly, TV monitor is perfect for entertainment purposes. Users should find no problem regarding resolution. The ergonomic can still be a problem. When it is partially used for daily computing as well, user still needs at least 1080p of resolution so the final cost is still bumped up a little.

User may also need to consider input lag on TV monitor for gaming purpose. Input lag refers to any delay between any movement users use with input device like mouse and what is displayed on the TV monitor. PC monitor prioritize in minimizing input lag, and HDTV prioritize in reducing video lagging. This basic different creates significant issue. It shouldn’t be a big deal unless user is playing high-stakes FPS games. This issue is often resolved with “game mode” being available on several HDTV. This kind of TV monitor tends to have shorter input lag comparing to the others on its class.

So, Is It Worth It?

There are many answers for this single question. If this TV monitor serves only for entertainment purposes, it makes the best bang of users’ buck. Still, input lagging needs to be solved and an HDTV with Game Mode tends to be more expensive. If saving money is the issue, TV monitor isn’t really the answer even though it can work somehow.

If this TV monitor will be used for daily computing usage, TV monitor will not serve perfectly. HDTV with 1080p resolution works better, but it still displays text in a fuzzy way. PC monitor has higher pixel density which will create sharper display for even small texts. HDTV with 1080p resolution costs more than PC monitor with the same resolution. Smaller TV monitor will have lower resolution as well, which is bad news. It seems like a TV monitor isn’t worth the investment or the effort.

However, there is a way when a TV monitor should be worth it. If users want to add an extra monitor on current single or multi-display setup for entertainment purposes, TV monitor will shine. Say, for example, when user wants to watch a movie on Netflix while editing documents, this TV monitor will come in handy and become new cool monitor.

How to Connect PC to TV Monitor

If users decide to use TV monitor as a display or additional display on the setup, users need to setup PC capability to run out video to TV monitor. There are three options commonly available for this.

First, it can use HDMI Port. PC with high-end graphic card always has HDMI ports on the back. It makes the best alternative to pushing video out to TV monitor. Standard HDMI cable should be enough for connectivity. On the other side, most recent HDTV is built with HDMI port as well, which is beneficial on this case. This port already sends out both video and sound, very practical.

Second, it can use DVI port. This is an alternative to HDMI port. Older HDTV commonly has this port as well. Often, these ports are labeled as PC/HDMI or DVI/HDMI on TV monitor. If there is no other option on the TV, any HDMI port should work the same. However, this port doesn’t push out sound as well so additional connection using RCA cable will be needed too.

Third, there is VGA port. This should be the last alternative. Unlike HDMI and DVI, this port doesn’t have good enough quality, but it still works good enough. Like DVI port, user still needs to run audio out while using this port.

In the end, TV monitor should be worth it when it comes to watching movies and videos and playing games. For working and reading on PC, user should stick on smaller PC monitor. Talking about the idea to use TV monitor as a computer monitor, is it worth it? It makes the best worth as additional monitor for entertainment purposes.

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