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Pros and cons of using an HDTV for computing

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 7, 2011 6:02 AM PST

Pros and cons of using an HDTV for computing

I'm thinking about getting a new larger monitor for my desktop computer, and wonder about the difference between getting a dedicated monitor and a high-def TV. I'd plan to drive it with a VGA cable, and perhaps have a HDMI cable from the satellite box, too. I'd like to be able to use PIP and have TV in the small inset picture. Getting a TV would also have the benefit of being able to use it standalone. Is this a good idea? How much computer monitor performance do I give up if I get a 32-inch 1080p TV? Please let me know what the pros and cons are so I can make a sound decision. Thanks.

--Submitted by: John P.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

1080p TV vs. computer monitor --Submitted by waytron

Simplest path to the appropriate monitor --Submitted by trancegroup

It's pretty much similar to a monitor --Submitted by Alain Martel1

Pro and cons of HDTV for computing --Submitted hauschja

If you have any additional advice or recommendations for John, please click on the reply link below and submit away. Please be as detailed as possible when providing an answer. Thanks!
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HDTV vs. CRT as a monitor
by Teacher_71 / January 7, 2011 9:56 AM PST

Here is my set up in my home office. I use an entertainment unit for my desktop computer, 15" CRT monitor, 26" HDTV, audio receiver with stereo speakers that I use when watching TV, printer, computer speakers with sub-woofer, and plenty of storage below. I bought a VGA cable connected to my computer which I can swap connect the CRT or the HDTV. It all works great. Since the CRT is just below eye level and the HDTV is about a foot higher, I have it tilted towards me for better viewing. I use the CRT most of the time; but when I do a slide show, watch something on Hulu or other internet TV channel, or watch a video played on the computer's DVD drive, I use the HDTV. My TV is connected to DISH Network. I do not have a dedicated LCD monitor, but when I use my brother-in-law's computer with his LCD monitor and compare it to my HDTV setup with my computer; the visual quality is better with my setup -- at least in my opinion. For example, when I do a slide show with a black slide, it is pitch black without any distortions, wavy lines, pixelations, etc. My only recommendation is to get a plasma HDTV, if possible. The reason for this is that my plasma HDTV is far superior to my three LCD HDTV's I have when watching the same HD shows. Therefore, I would think that this would be the case if a plasma is connected to your computer.

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by loquitur / January 14, 2011 9:17 PM PST

Plasma has superior graphics...however, one would have to be very cautious with image burn-in when using it for a computer, since computer use usually results in a fixed image on the screen for extended periods of time. The real technological breakthrough for joint TV and computer monitor use will be the OLED TV/Monitor. Its results will be spectacular...and it will soon be affordably available. Such OLED screens will change the whole ballgame re. graphics on TVs and monitors.

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Close to non-existent
by whatch / January 15, 2011 12:03 AM PST
In reply to: Plasma

Burn in on modern plasmas is close to non-existent. The burn in was for early monitors was true but new plasma monitors have s/w to move the pixels slightly and stop almost all burn in. In addition the Panny that I have also has an anti-image retention scroll bar that can be run to help remove any left over that the "pixel orbiter".

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by ViroCMN / January 15, 2011 7:50 AM PST
In reply to: Close to non-existent

Well said Whatch...

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Plasma as a monitor
by Mergatroid Mania / January 16, 2011 10:24 AM PST
In reply to: Close to non-existent

Actually, if you google it you'll find there are still people having image retention issues with newer generation plasma TVs. Of course, I have seen this same thing happen to LCD TVs even though manufacturers have stated it doesn't happen. Some LCD TVs that have really cheap panels can suffer from this problem. Also, when some LCD panels go bad, this is the symptom you can get.

Also, besides the retention, if being used as a computer monitor, depending on how big the plasma TV is and how close the user is sitting to it, they may have a problem with the space plasma TVs have between the pixels. For computer use, especially at a desk, I would stick with LCD.

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DLP rocks!..
by JCitizen / January 22, 2011 6:05 AM PST
In reply to: Plasma as a monitor

If you are lucky enough to have an LED DLP before they were dropped by Samsung, you would not have any of these problems. So far the only advantage I see of using Plasma is that Panasonic has a 3D engine that just flat smokes the competition. If that feature is important enough, then I say go for it!

I still maintain that my LED DLP Sammy beats the competition hands down in all categories except that, and it does a pretty superior job of that too. I can only compare my performance to the reports over at Consumer's Union, as there isn't yet much information to go on, with user reviews here at CNET.

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My experience - yours may vary...
by JCitizen / January 15, 2011 9:26 AM PST

I'm disabled so I really can't sit at a desk, and laptops burn my lap; so I decided on something completely different.

I wanted an all in one solution that did it all:

1. Large scale HDTV
2. Phone server(Skype)
3. Home Theater system
4. Cable ready DVR
5. PC for regular computing and printing
6. Gaming monitor
7. 3D solution for design(shutter glasses)
8. Weather monitor/server

I picked a 61" Samsung LED DLP because I didn't want screen burn in however slight,plus I can't stand highly reflective screens, and LCDs just don't give the deep blacks or contrast ratio I wanted. This was two years ago, the market and technology have changed. Back then you could only purchase cable ready HTS from OEMs, because of the DRM inherent in cable ready systems. I am seeing now that Dish has satellite set boxes that look like they might replace the PC completely, so this would fit the DVR and premium content nicely.

When choosing the PC graphics card I made sure the combo had HDMI output, because the TV was 3D and PC capable. I also purchased a combo wireless keyboard/mouse so I could work away from the monitor/TV. I was literally doing everything but the sound amplification from the PC. Back then you were blocked from having S/PDIF or other digital outputs for premium sound. This all because of RIAA and MPAA rules on premium content. Now you can pretty much build your own; back then you couldn't even have the same operating system as everyone else. It was chocked clear full of Digital Rights Management spyware, and if you made one bad move everything would fall like a house of cards. I'm reading that this is not the case so much anymore.

I can report that all of this has worked quite well, and with a slight adjustment to ease of access controls in Windows, and a few plug-ins for FireFox for control page zooming; I can use my HDTV as a monitor, in a way that makes me want to never go back to the old way of computing. Watching NETFLIX on streaming content is pretty dreamy looking! Some web pages have content that will simply blow your eyeballs out of your head! High Definition definitely came onboard with IE8, and followed soon after with the next FireFox update. They are both fully fitted for 16:9 viewing of web pages now.

I can attest it beats working at a desk any day, unless you just like shuffling paper around on a desktop.

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Using HDTV as monitor
by wired128 / January 7, 2011 10:00 AM PST


I think this is a good idea, My main monitor is a 24" monitor, but I use my TV as a second monitor. It is a 46" HDTV. On the TV, I use two HDMI inputs, #1 for PC and #2 for DirecTV. I don't know how the PIP works, so you had better find out if that is easy or hard to make work. In general, you won't be able to tell the difference between VGA and HDMI inputs; I use VGA on my main monitor as my video card won't support two digital interfaces, so one had to use VGA.

Of course, you need to compare prices. I must say that my TV has never used its tuner, so it is always acting like a monitor.

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Nice setup
by Mergatroid Mania / January 16, 2011 10:46 AM PST
In reply to: Using HDTV as monitor

Sounds like you have fun using your computer.

I would have to say that using an HDTV as a monitor can work very well as long as a few things are considered.
Don't get a cheap LCD TV. Some of the low quality brands really suck at being a computer monitor. You cannot get a good color, nor black level or contrast no matter how hard you try. Many of them have the backlights cranked up without any way to turn them down. LED backlights would be a better choice than CCFL.

In this case perhaps the user would be better off with a monitor instead of a HDTV. You can get a monitor with HDMI, DVI and VGA connectors on it so you can run the output from a cable box to the monitor for television programs (if the cable box has an HDMI output) and also run your computer through one of the other inputs. A 27" or 28" LCD monitor with LED backlights can be had for under $200 in some cases and certainly under $300.

However, a quality 32" LCD HDTV with 1080p resolution would also do just fine and give you the option for a cable or OTA RF input. I would check your viewing distance as well. A 32" LCD TV may be too large if you are viewing it from a close distance (as in at a desk). I'm using a 27" LCD as my main monitor right now and I find it to be the perfect size for computing at my desk. I also have an HD PVR connected and a PS3. Unfortunately I do not have PiP which I think would be pretty cool, although since I have two monitors I can view the PVR on my 27" and use my 23" for the computer if I need to.

However, a large TV with a cordless mouse and keyboard is awesome for coffee table computing. Again, make sure you get a decent TV and not a no name POS.

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All I need for PIP...
by JCitizen / January 16, 2011 1:11 PM PST
In reply to: Nice setup

is something analog hooked to the antenna in coax. It can be from any analog source. Then I simply set the PIP configuration in the HDTV menu and I can turn it off and on, and control sound anytime. I haven't experimented with it much, but it does work. I have an old 2008 LED DLP, most of the new sets probably handle PIP differently depending and whether the TV has one or two tuners in it.

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1080p TV vs. Computer Monitor
by waytron / January 7, 2011 10:33 AM PST

What is an acceptable image quality is really in the eyes of the beholder and really depends on exactly what it is you want to use your computer for. However, a decent computer monitor will generally have a higher resolution but for regular computer usage such as internet, email, games and playing DVD's, the 32" 1080P TV should be just fine. Just to give you an idea, a 1080p HD TV is equivalent to about 1920x1080 resolution which is typical of many low to mid range 27" monitor. This is a little low for a 32" screen and may be a little fuzzy for detailed computer work. Higher end 30 inch monitors can have resolutions of 2560 x 1600.

Depending on the age of your computer and the type of video card you currently have, I would probably recommend double checking its resolution capabilities to make sure if can even drive the TV. You might want to upgrade the video card to one that has an HDMI output. This will give you the added benefit of video and audio in the same cable (If you are planning on running the computer sound through the TV's audio system). If you go with the VGA cable and separate sound cables you can often run into ground loop problems causing excessive audio hum.

If your computer happens to be a laptop, you can do what I did when I was curious about the very same thing. Take your laptop(with a VGA Cable) down to your local TV store and ask the salesman to plug your computer into one of the sets on display. Run a few of the applications that you normally work on and see for yourself.

Wayland Computer

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(NT) I use them
by macsie / January 14, 2011 9:08 AM PST
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Seem Good
by Kimo / January 14, 2011 11:47 AM PST
In reply to: I use them

I use them and have not noticed any problems

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I use them
by macsie / January 14, 2011 9:15 AM PST

About a year ago I replaced my Bedroom 32" 1080 HDTV with a 50" also having another 32" TV that wasn't getting much use, I hooked both up to my desktop and love the results. The resolution is great, no blurring....I would recommend it to any that are tired of squinting at tiny monitors or the high prices charged for large monitors. For those of you who are "Youth Challenged"(I am one, being 71 yrs old) the larger screen is a lot easier on the old eyes...I normally have to use reading glasses to read a news paper but wear none at all using my 32"ers....
Bob McKay, USN Retired

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RE: 1080p TV vs. Computer Monitor
by dj_erik / January 14, 2011 9:16 AM PST

I pretty much agree with you on the resolution, but it really depends on the application. Personally, I have my computer hooked up to my 46" Samsung with wireless keyboard and mouse, but I tend to relax on the couch and use my computer for both work and entertainment. Since the distance is far enough away you don't tend to notice the lower resolution. For the cabling, I agree to either go with HDMI, or use a optical audio cable (TOSLINK) with a DVI to HDMI cable.

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Low to Middle 27 inch TV sets having 1920 x 1080
by Bertie511 / January 14, 2011 11:40 AM PST

I have been shopping for a new TV set (and a new monitor) recently and have had great difficulty finding equipment at that size higher than 720P. Yes, there are three of four sets, Samsung 305T with your "common" 2560 x 1600 but the great majority of sets have not reached 1080P and when they do advance, as a group, in the next 3-5 years the next plateau will probably be 1440P.

I would suspect the majority of readers don't have a couple of thousand to throw at a TV set with the amount of programming available at 2560-1600 for a 27 inch set. These figures are not common at any size range and certainly not a 27 inch low to middle set selling at $1000 or more (which is out of my defination for low to middle to a 27 inch set.

Most of the professional editors making reccomendations for sets or monitors are not recommending anything above a 720 HDTV for anything below a 32 inch set.

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(NT) cost of sets
by macsie / January 14, 2011 12:53 PM PST
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costs of sets
by macsie / January 14, 2011 1:00 PM PST

as I indicated above, mine are both 1080s one in Magnavox and the other is a Vizio, the magmavox was on clearance for under $300.00 and the Vizio was caught on sale for $429.00. So there are reasonable prices out there if you look for them...I run mine with HDMI cables driven with a Radeon mid price video card.

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720 hdtv is not good for gamers
by sharee100 / January 21, 2011 10:07 AM PST

720 hdtv cannot provide computer display resolution above 1024 x 768 and many newer games need a higher resolution. I have a 40 inch lcd hdtv 720. I am a retired grandmother and it was easy to set everything up through my tv. I can work and/or play on the computer while watching tv on pip (make sure last viewing of tv was using hdmi, not tv setting to get the pip setting all from the comfort of my couch which is 10 feet away. I gave all my old computer monitors to charity.

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TV vs Monitor
by oldad1955 / January 16, 2011 1:27 AM PST

Thank you. I've read so many comments about connecting a PC to a TV that have been confusing and complicated, talking about special cables for audio and separate connections for video. I know under some circumstances that some may have to go that route but changing my video card to have an HDMI output and using the HDMI cable to cover both seems too easy to be true, but I may try as soon as I can afford the new card. Thanks again

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no need to change out card
by sharee100 / January 21, 2011 10:09 AM PST
In reply to: TV vs Monitor

just buy a cable that goes from regular monitor plug in on your computer to hdmi. I did. It cost me less than $35

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Just keep in mind...
by JCitizen / January 21, 2011 1:11 PM PST

That some 3D operations won't work that way, and you still need to hook up your sound in that setup. No Dolby 7.1 without HDMI or strictly digital sound cable, like S/PIDF or digital coax.

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HDTV Computing
by arbee / January 7, 2011 12:17 PM PST

To give you some insight on what may work for you I have successfully used a 23inch monitor on my gamers computer and it works very well. I have now recently attached another gamer computer to a new 55" 3D Samsung and that works excellently. It has PIP (and everthing else you can think of.) I've tried Black Ops on it and it's awsome!

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HDTV as monitor
by mindcontorl / January 7, 2011 3:41 PM PST

I purchased a 27 inch mid class TV from BB to use as a monitor. In store the TV pic quality was very clear and this TV had 4 HDMI inputs and 1 USB input. I thought I couldn't go wrong. The size of the tv was great, howevery the fuzziness was ever so present. I tried to adjust the sharpeness on my computer and on the TV itself and I just couldn't get it to come in clear enough. I had to return the TV. Unless you have seen the TV/monitor with your own eyes, and know that it is a quality product that serves both purposes, then I would stay away from the purchase.

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hook up a laptop in the store
by QuantumBox / January 14, 2011 10:15 AM PST
In reply to: HDTV as monitor

If you want to see how the picture will look hooked up to a computer, you could bring along a laptop and ask them to hook it up, to save yourself from hauling it home and back if it doesn't work out...

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(NT) HDTV as monitor
by vivekfamily / January 7, 2011 7:02 PM PST
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HDTV as monitor
by vivekfamily / January 7, 2011 7:10 PM PST

Ihave connected both HDTV and sony monitor with my computer . Ican use both simultaneously also .With HDTV Iwatch only movies from computer because you have to sit at a distance because of glare. For computing I use sony monitor which is comfertable to eyes

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Pro and cons of HDTV for computing
by lacreole / January 7, 2011 8:04 PM PST

Been operating that way for years and you can't beat it. Make sure and get a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse with a TV tray so when you are computing to can sit back 3-5 feet away from the HDTV screen - a nice exeutive chair won't hurt either.

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by FBLDSYT / January 7, 2011 10:11 PM PST

would be helpful to know your video card and cpu capabilities

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by ViroCMN / January 15, 2011 7:48 AM PST
In reply to: depends???


I like to consider the following:

CPU, As long as u not running < 2.8GHZ Pref = >/ core2duo 2.3GHZ
System bus, as fast as possible on the 775 socket (1333mhz) as pref but 800 can do so will 667mhz DDR2.
RAM, more than a Giga Byte pref 2Gb or 2x 1GB interleaved modules. And same speed spectrum as your CPU and Mother Board
GPU. Many people get this wrong... Graphic output is reliant on the renderer. Combination of software decode on the machine BUT output quality due to Hardware. Preferably more than DDR 3 1024mb ATI or Nvidia.As long as u have a 24 pipeline or a full HD card. U don't want system lag and render distortion.

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