Glenn Stok is a technical writer with a Master of Science degree. He enjoys evaluating products, and can clearly explain their features.
I discovered that today's HD televisions have the same, or better, screen technology as computer monitors. I did a lot of research testing various monitors and HDTVs to come to that conclusion.
For less cost, HDTVs include a host of extra features not found in standard monitors. They even have better sound quality.
I had tried several brands of computer monitors and became very disappointed with their quality. I bought and returned several models.
Two things bothered me with regular computer monitors:
- Narrow viewing angle
- Poor audio quality
Computer monitors are designed with a narrow viewing angle since they are meant to be used for front viewing only. That is to provide security from peeping eyes.
That's something I don’t need to worry about since I work at home. I don’t want to be forced to sit directly in front of the screen to see it well.
An even worse problem was the poor quality of the sound. The speakers are so small that they produce terrible audio.
The response from store salespeople was always the same excuse: They say that since new displays are so thin, there’s no room to put good speakers in them.
I am amazed that manufacturers can’t get it right. Apple did it! The iPad is thin, with little room for good-sized speakers, and my iPad has excellent audio quality.
All the sales reps in stores told me I should buy external speakers if I want decent audio. I tried to avoid cluttering my desk with extra components, so I wanted the speakers built-in.
I thought to myself: Televisions built today are also thin and they have great audio with built-in speakers. Therefore, I decided to try an actual HDTV to use as my monitor.
My HDTV Alternative For My Computer Monitor
Having done my research, I discovered that a 1080p HDTV provides the same video quality as most digital monitors. It’s equivalent to having a monitor with 1920 x 1080 pixels.
TVs are much cheaper than computer monitors, which is ridiculous because monitors don’t have TV tuners or Internet access. So why are they more expensive. Must be because people don’t know they can use a simple TV and are willing to pay a premium for their computer display. I found a low-cost solution that provides better quality.
I examined the LCD TVs that were on display at several stores. I noticed that the viewing angle was terrific, all the way up to 178 degrees with no loss of clarity or color when viewed at an angle.
Vizio makes a 24-inch HD model that is 1080p, and as a bonus, it’s a Smart TV. That means it picks up Internet streaming channels in addition to broadcast and cable. Internet capability includes built-in Apps to watch Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, and more.
More recently, I bought a TCL brand HDTV for a friend's computer. That includes Roku also, with many more streaming channels.
What to Look for in a Television Monitor
I bought a 24-inch Vizio Smart TV, and it has excellent audio. I was right about that. A TCL brand 32-inch Smart TV I bought for my friend also had superior audio and video.
Whatever brand you select, make sure to get an HDTV with 1080p so that you have the clarity of 1920 x 1080 pixels to produce the tiniest text and clear graphics.
You also need to be sure it has an HDMI Interface to connect to your computer. Many larger HDTV’s have more than one. HDMI carries the signals for both stereo audio and video, so you’ll have fewer wires running around.
I have an Apple iMac Mini, so I used a cable to connect the Mini Display Port to the HDMI interface on the TV. You can also connect Apple's Thunderbolt™ to HDMI. If you have a computer with a DVI Port, you can use a DVI to HDMI Adapter Cable.
Remember, you need a TV with two features if you are going to use it as a computer monitor:
- 1080p resolution
- HDMI interface
The Model I’m Using
I bought a Vizio 24-inch 1080p LED Smart HDTV in 2015.
That’s no longer available, but after doing some more research, I discovered that TCL has the same quality. So I bought a 32-inch TCL (Model 32S327) for a friend.
When I helped her with the installation, I was pleased with the quality of TCL. Same as my Vizio, but even better since TCL includes Roku for thousands of additional streaming channels.
HDMI Vs. RGB or Composite Interface
If your computer only has an RGB or composite interface, you can find an HDTV that has that support. The Vizio model I use supports that, as you can see in the image of the rear panel below. I recommend HDMI since that provides the best signal.
General Specs of HDTVs
1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels)
HDMI, RGB (PC), Composite
DTV Cable TV, USB
Built-In Wi-Fi, Ethernet
24", 32", 40" … up to 80"
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 Best of Both Worlds
Most HDTVs today are also Smart TVs. Now that I have a Smart TV sitting on my desk, I find myself taking advantage of it. When I’m not working on the computer, I browse a variety of Internet channels that I don’t have on my regular TV.
The future of television is here. Now you can take full advantage of it to enjoy a better experience for a Computer Monitor.
How about you?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Glenn Stok
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 August 22, 2017:
Rossie Uranga - If you want touch screen then you have to use a computer monitor that has that feature and that interfaces with your computer. You will not be able to use an HDTV.
RossieUranga on August 22, 2017:
I have been waiting to do that since 2005. I saw it could be done but I am not technically talented, I just assume things that I see in my head can be done. I would like to write to you for I know the specs I want. I was going to buy AIO but they are limited to 2tb and I want my pc with at least 3-4tb. So figured I could get HDTV TV with 1080p, HDMI cable ready but also want it to have TOUCHSCREEN. Is the latter possible? Would be willing to send you full specs. Thanks so much.
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 23, 2017:
Thanks Pete. I appreciate your posting your experience. As you may have noticed with the other comments, I get a few people complaining that I don't know what I'm taking about, but they never actually tried it. You have – and I appreciate your feedback attesting that the right HDTV actually does work as a computer monitor. In addition, you're a professional in the business so your comments mean a lot. Thank you.
Pete Nutsford on April 23, 2017:
Thanks so much Glenn. You're quite right with 4k. Actually at the moment we are not using 4k resolution here in NZ (not a broadcast standard yet), and now the top Japanese manufactures have released 8k sets!. I guess 4k will not apply with our use cause even though the feature is there - it is not being used directly. The exception is my good main tv - it is a Panasonic 48ax670 UHD4k 2d / 3d set. Now this is about the best thing I have ever brought. Last night I ran the output of my macbook pro to the HDMI inputs - Voila!... absolutely perfect display for text and graphics. But 48" is a bit large for close up desktop work. The only reason I was looking at 4k is that is really all you can buy new these days - and I want to try and get 2 sets the same, so buying new might be the only course of action. I might pop back into the store today and try a few more sets, also checking the PPI rating on them.
What I am after here is dedicating one monitor to running the V'Jay app (Virtual DJ), and the other for live monitoring of the motion feed out to the audience.
Again, thanks for the help.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 23, 2017:
Pete, as you noticed I wrote this in reference to using 1080p HD TVs as a computer monitor and not about using 4K technology. Even though 4K is an advanced technology, it's purpose is evidently not for use as a monitor as you discovered. Something about 4K obviously is not right for the purpose, but I haven't tested it so I can't comment about it. If you want to be sure, get what I am using. I've been very happy with it for several years now and I do a lot of work on it, writing articles, editing images, etc.
Pete Nutsford on April 23, 2017:
Hi Glen, Fantastic page. At the moment I am looking at buying 2 tv's for use as monitor - live video feed out from a V'jing program.
I have looked at 2 Panasonic 32" 4K sets, and would have thought they would have done the job being 4k - but text is a little blotchy / grainy. Guess the PPI is not high enough?.
So is it best to purchase a HD1080p set dedicated to this?.
Any help you can give me would be great.
Thanks so much!, Pete
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 February 17, 2017:
BarbRad - No, I never heard anything about humming or any noise coming from a smart TV. When it's off - it off. Maybe you misunderstood what you read on Amazon.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on February 17, 2017:
Thank you for this information. We've been thinking of upgrading our very old TV to a smart TV that will add internet capability to the TV programming. I was reading the reviews on Amazon and some people complained of humming or clicking they could hear from 10 feet away when the unit was off. Have you heard that?
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 28, 2016:
Alan - I wouldn't call a 42-inch TV a monitor. I never even considered one as a computer monitor. You're on a new threshold, one I have not researched.
alan on December 27, 2016:
thank you so much for your input re the choices for a large 42 inch mobile monitor so i can be a distance away from the monitor/tv (i will ck into the 4k)
With my work, i need to keep multiple screens open
and use table/desk in front of me to write on documents and/or read from technical books. i don't want the screen on my desk.
if you have any ideas re:mobile stands for a 42 inch monitor please let me know
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 December 25, 2016:
Alan, A 42 inch TV is not useful for computer work. Even with the best resolution available today the text would be blurry.
Alan on December 24, 2016:
I want to be able to have a 42 inch screen with great resolution that I can operate w mac computer using a cable or AppleTV. I want to work on three pages open at one time. I want to place it on a mobile stand so that I can roll it between two different rooms in the office. Please inform me what your recommendation is for these three requirements of this size screen used at a distance on a mobile stand using AppleTV. Thank you
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 05, 2016:
Marcus, Your comment is not posted because you were promoting another site against the terms of service as noted. However I am pleased to respond to your concerns.
You did not mention which brand TV you bought that had blurry text. The one I mentioned in this article has crisp text even as small as 6pt. I never had a problem and still using it today for all my development work.
As for subsampling , you did not mention what interface to your computer you were using with the TV using 4:2:0 subsampling. That might be the issue causing your problem. Once again, the one I mentioned does not have this problem. In any case, subsampling is more of an issue for film makers using green screen backgrounds.
As for 4K, of course that will always provide crisp text, but the extra expense is not necessary for normal desk work distance. 4K is a high end technology really meant for large screen TVs that are used for far-distance viewing.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 01, 2016:
Daniel - The pixel density (or pixels per inch) will decrease with larger TVs, so a 40 inch HDTV will not serve well as a computer monitor.
Large-screen TVs are made for distance viewing, such as across living room. They are not meant for detailed clarity that is necessary for computer work.
My discovery that HDTVs make good monitors is based on normal monitor sizes. A 24-inch HDTV at 1080p has extreme clarity because it has a large number of pixels per inch (ppi), so tiny characters are clear. As you increase the screen size for distant viewing, the ppi is no longer sufficient for detailed computer work.
I do all my work on a 24-inch HDTV monitor as I referenced in this article. At that size it matches or exceeds the clarity of a dedicated monitor.
Daniel on December 01, 2016:
I need to upgrade my PC monitor, but also the TV in my room.
So I'm thinking instead of buying a monitor and a TV to buy just a new TV and use it as a monitor.
But the TV is going to be big, I'm going for the 40 inch Full HD by Hisense.
What I wonder is if what you said about HDTV being the best monitors and how you can still see clear characters and details applies to also TV that are that big or if by increasing the size of the screen the clearness of characters decreases.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 18, 2016:
RJ73 - HDMI 2.0 cables can handle up to 18 gigabits per second. That's enough to handle up to 60 fps.
What you said about many manufactures not advertising the true Hz is correct. For that matter, many even use methods to make it seem like it's better than it is. For that reason you have to trust your own personal experience, as I do.
I'm still using my HDTV mentioned in this article for a few years now and I'm very happy with the results. Since I use my computer for writing these articles, creating spreadsheets, and working with images, I find that small detail such as tiny lettering is completely clear and easy on the eyes.
RJ73 on August 18, 2016:
What about frame rates? Could be wrong here but my understanding is that HDMI cables can only cope with enough data to produce 30fps (1080P), most serious pc gamers will not go below 60fps. Also when many smart tv's promote 250hz etc as a refresh rate this is most often non native and is internal processing done within the TV itself - many will not even advertise the true Hz. For gamers Gsync monitors look like the best option these match the frame rate of the monitor to your GPU, smart TVs cannot do this.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on July 13, 2015:
You didn't miss anything, I was just offering up a dual option. I enjoy following this thread - fascinating as we are all involved in both tv and computers on a daily basis. Outstanding and well thought out post and fantastic comments. Thank you!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 09, 2015:
GmaGoldie - If I understand correctly, you say you are using your PC as a TV. That's fine too, but my article is about using an HDTV as a monitor. Quite the reverse. Did I miss something from what you meant?
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on January 09, 2015:
Fantastic idea! Thank you! I have used my HP Touch Smart for a tv for close to five years and love it - so now that is time to upgrade a few other spaces in our home, this is a perfect alternative. Keep up the outstanding work!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 07, 2014:
Thanks for noticing that, Audrey. Reading the comments brings a full picture to the surface, doesn't it? They argue, but they haven't tried it. I'm using my HDTV for over a year now with no problems. And a couple of friends did the same thing and are very happy too. Be well, Audrey. Thanks again.
Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on December 06, 2014:
Hi Glenn _ I love the way the naysayers try to convince you that you are wrong. Your reasoning is sound and makes for excitement for others to do the same thing. You investigated. You liked. You bought. What better way to get what pleases you. Wait until my husband hears this story. Sounds wonderful. Sharing Blessings, Audrey PS I like the way you think outside the box.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on October 08, 2014:
cfin - The Vizio model that I mentioned here does not have that problem. I work often on images that have mostly black backgrounds and I don't see flash lighting as you described. Thanks of that info. It goes to show that buyers need to do their due diligence.
cfin from The World we live in on October 08, 2014:
Hi Glenn Stok,
What I mentioned is flash lighting, not flashing lights. It is prevalent in many side lit LED TV's. It is actually extremely common and only bothers some people. The TV was not a dudd or damaged. It is where blobs of light or stripes of lighter texture are visible across the screen when viewing dark scenes. Every unit within some models have this, and the manufacturer will just tell you that it's normal. This may be a factor or con to consider for example when using autocad or 3D renderer on the PC. It's worth researching for someone like yourself who finds this interesting. My wife is very sensitive to flashlighting and usually people who enjoy a good contrast ratio on their monitor cannot use a TV with heavy flashlighting. It is also of note that Many backlit plasma TV's do not suffer from this issue, and it is a reason why I was also a fan of plasma.
To see flashlighting, do some work on screen that requires a very dark screen. The lighting issue will be quite clear. In some TV's it can be minimized by turning down the backlight almost completely.
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 August 08, 2014:
Suzanne Day - I stayed with my old monitor a long time too, until I decided that I was missing out by not having a wide screen. That's when I discovered how awful computer monitors are as compared to HDTVs. You just have to remember to get an HDTV with 1080p.
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 08, 2014:
Great idea - I'm using up my OK monitor until it burns out, then I'm gonna try what you recommend! Voted useful.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 19, 2014:
Some Gamer - The HD TV's built today have the same technical specs as a PC Monitor. And in addition, HD TV's have better built-in speakers than PC monitors have. Just make sure you buy a TV with 1080 pixels as I mentioned in this article. And if you are concerned about gaming speed, get one with 120 Hz, that's better than the more expensive monitors.
Some Gamer on July 18, 2014:
This wouldn't be a good solution for gaming though, as the response time would be much higher in a TV than in a Monitor.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 19, 2014:
MsDora - I guess what your son did that for was to make presentation of a computer application to an audience. A 54" screen is great for that, but on the other hand, I think it's too big for a desktop.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 16, 2014:
I have seen my son project the computer images onto the TV screen and I actually like the 54" view. Thank you for this very commonsense idea. Voted Up!
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!