Why Can’t You Use a TV as a Monitor?

Large TV on the wallGaurav Paswan / Shutterstock

TVs and computer screens are similar and use mainly the same technology to drive the panels. You can usually use a TV with your computer, but they are designed for a different market and are not identical to the monitors.

Differences in connections

TVs and monitors will accept the HDMI input, provided they have been manufactured in the last decade. HDMI is the industry standard for video signals. You'll find them on almost any device that transmits Rokus videos and game consoles to computers. Technically, if all you are looking for is a screen on which to connect something, a TV or monitor will do the trick.

Monitors will typically have other connections, such as DisplayPort, to support higher resolutions and faster refresh rates. TVs often have multiple HDMI inputs to connect all your devices to one screen, while monitors are typically designed to use one device at a time.

Devices such as game consoles typically send audio via HDMI, but monitors usually do not have speakers, and they rarely have the correct speakers. You usually need to connect earphones to your desk or have desktop speakers. However, almost all televisions will have speakers. Top-of-the-range models boast of excellent designs as they are the centerpiece of your living room.

TVs are much bigger

The obvious difference is the size of the screen. Televisions typically measure about 40 inches or more, while most desktop monitors are installed between 24 and 27 inches. The television should be seen from the other side of the room and should be larger to occupy the same volume of vision.

This might not be a problem for you; Some people may prefer a larger screen instead of several smaller ones. So the size is not an automatic dealbreaker, but the resolution is this: if your TV is a 40-inch screen but only 1080p, it will look blurry when it's placed close up on your desk even though it seems very good on the other side of the room. . If you plan to use a large TV as a primary monitor, consider purchasing a 4K panel.

The opposite is also true because you would not want to use a small computer screen as a living room TV. This is certainly feasible, but most medium-sized 1080p TVs cost about the same price as a comparable desktop monitor.

Monitors are made for interactivity

Game MonitorGorodenkoff / Shutterstock

With TVs, the content you use is almost entirely pre-recorded, but on the monitors you will interact with your computer permanently. They are designed accordingly, with TVs focusing on better picture quality for movies and broadcasts, often at the expense of processing time and entry delay.

It is important to understand the basics of how most TVs and monitors work to understand why this is important. With TVs and monitors, devices (such as your computer or set-top box) send images to the screen several times per second. The electronics of the screen process the image, which delays it for a moment. This is generally known as the panel input offset.

Once the image is processed, it is sent to the LCD panel (or whatever your device uses). The rendering of the image also takes time, because the pixels do not transform instantly. If you slow it down, you will see the TV gradually move from one picture to another. This is called the Response time, which is often confused with the input shift.

Input shift is not important for TVs because all content is prerecorded and you do not provide any input. The response time does not matter too much, because you will almost always consume 24 or 30 frames per second, which gives the manufacturer much more room to "save money" on something that you have never really noticed.

But when you use it on a desk, you may notice it more. A TV with a high response time may seem fuzzy and leave ghost artifacts when displaying a 60 fps game from a desktop because you spend more time through image in this intermediate state. These artifacts look like Windows slider trails, but for everything you move. And with a significant input delay, you may experience a delay between moving your mouse and moving it to the screen, which can be disorienting. Even if you do not play, input lag and response time have an impact on your experience.

However, these differences are not clear. Not all TVs have problems with fast moving content and not all monitors are automatically better. As many TVs are now designed for console play, there is often a "game mode" that disables all processing and speeds up panel response time to match many monitors. It all depends on the model you buy, but unfortunately for both sides, specifications such as response time are often extremely misinterpreted (or simply by the marketing), and the shift in entries is rarely tested or mentioned. You will often need to consult third-party reviewers for accurate ratings.

TVs are designed to match on TV

TV and remote channelsProxima Studio / Shutterstock

Most TVs will have digital tuners that you can use to tune in live TV with an antenna or even, maybe, basic cable with a coaxial cable. The tuner is what decodes the digital signal sent by air or cable. In fact, it can not be legally marketed as a "TV" in the United States without a digital TV tuner.

If you have a cable subscription, you probably have a decoder that also works as a tuner. Some manufacturers therefore choose to omit the tuner to save money. If this is not the case, it is generally sold as a "home theater display" or a "large display" and not as a "television". These will still work properly if they are plugged into a cable box, but will not receive the cable without one. And you can not connect an antenna directly to them to watch live TV.

The monitors will never have a tuner, but if you have a cable box with an HDMI output, or even an OTA decoder, you can connect an antenna, you can connect it to a monitor to watch cable TV. Do not forget that you will always need speakers if your monitor is not equipped with them.

RELATED: How to get HD TV channels for free (without paying for the cable)

Finally, you can technically connect a TV to your computer and use it without any compatibility issues, provided that it is not incredibly old and still has the proper ports. But your mileage may vary depending on the actual usage experience and can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer.

If you plan to use a monitor as a TV, you can not tune into a TV without an extra box, but you can connect an Apple TV or a Roku to watch Netflix, if you are not bothered by the size usually more small. size or lack of decent speakers.

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