The Best Computer Monitor Is an HDTV
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, so I did more research and bought this TCL 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.
My choice was for a 24-inch screen. That’s perfect for my computer use, but you decide what's best for you. My friend wanted a 32-inch display, which is why I got her this one.
If you want a larger screen, you’ll still find a better deal with an HDTV instead of a computer monitor. Just remember to look for one that is 1080p, and that has at least one HDMI interface, or that supports your computer's monitor interface.
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?
Are you considering getting an HDTV for your computer monitor?
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