Many wonder about using a computer monitor as a TV. The best monitors feature the ability to connect to all of your preferred services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV+, as well as other streaming websites.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Most consumers prefer large television screens, much larger than a computer monitor that you sit right next to should be.
  • TVs feature larger viewing angles, allowing multiple people to watch the screen from around the room.
  • Computer monitors have a higher refresh rate and lower input lag compared to a TV.

Using a Computer Monitor to watch TV

In the past, you would have trouble watching TV on a computer because of the high bandwidth required for loading and interpreting digital video files. However, since certain streaming technology has reduced the bandwidth for digital content, many consumers utilize their monitors as TVs. To determine whether you want to use your monitor to watch TV, you should consider several aspects of both, including the image quality, viewing angle, refresh rate, and input lag. In addition, you may want to learn how to check a monitor’s refresh rate to compare the two options.

Insider Tip

Computer monitors typically run smaller than TV screens, so a lower resolution looks better on a monitor than the exact resolution on a TV.

Image Quality and Size

The image quality relies heavily on the pixel content of the screen. Most computer monitors feature relatively high pixel coverage with resolutions ranging from 1280×1024 to 3840×2160 screen in pixels. Each of these options states the width by height in terms of pixels across the axes. Most TVs currently available feature 1920×1080 resolutions up to 3840×2160, which is referred to as 4K. However, since TVs have larger screen sizes, a computer monitor with the same screen resolution includes more pixels per inch (PPI,) meaning that they may have better picture quality up close.

Viewing Angles on Computer Monitors

People can sit around TVs and see similar images because the TV is larger than a monitor. Additionally, TVs designs take into account the fact that multiple people may be watching the screen. On the other hand, computer monitor designers typically expect one or two people to sit directly in front of the monitor and be relatively close. Because of this idea, computer monitors usually do not have wide viewing angles.

Refresh Rates and Input Lag

Two of the biggest differences between a computer monitor and television lies in the refresh rate and input lag. Refresh rate measures the frequency at which the entire image updates. For TVs, frame rate measures the number of frames possible in a second. Input lag occurs when there is a space between user input, like clicking on something, and the action on the screen. However, these aspects go hand-in-hand throughout the use of the device. Since TVs have lower refresh rates, they have higher input lag than a monitor. Read about what a 2K monitor is all about, to know if it’s the ideal screen for you.

What You Need to Use a Computer Monitor as a TV

If you are trying to connect your cable box or another device to your computer monitor, you will need an HDMI cable that can connect to the HDMI port on your cable box and your computer monitor. Then, to view your favorite content, click the two devices and navigate as you would on a TV. If you only have VGA inputs on your monitor, you may need to purchase HDMI adapter cables. You may want to use the built-in speakers for the audio output, but external speakers sometimes offer better quality.

Warning

More recent computer monitors require an HDMI connection, which means you may need a VGA to HDMI adaptor.

F.A.Q.S

Can you use a computer monitor as a TV with Roku?

Yes, you will need an HDMI port or ethernet port on the monitor. You would plug the HDMI cable into the monitor and the device, and it can be viewed on the screen and controlled with the remote.


Can you use a TV instead of a computer monitor for working from home?

A TV can be used in place of a computer monitor when you are working at home. Some people even use a TV as their monitor regularly. However, there are several differences to consider, including refresh rate and input lag. For more information about these aspects, check the article above.


Should I buy a Monitor or a TV for my computer?

If using it with your computer, you probably want to buy a computer monitor because you want the decreased input lag found in a monitor. TVs take longer to reflect the changes you make on your end, liking clicking on something or moving an icon.



STAT: As of 2016, most computer monitors use widescreen displays with an aspect ratio of 16:9, although some portable PCs use narrower aspect ratios like 3:2 and 16:10 while some high-end desktop monitors have adopted ultrawide displays. (source)

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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