A few months ago, I took a good, hard look at my dual-screen setup and thought— Hmm. Perhaps I should get another screen. A bigger monitor. Then, after an hour or more of investigating 27-inch screens online, I strolled into my living-room and was struck with a brilliant idea: Maybe, rather of buying an entirely brand-new display, I must just move my 32-inch HDTV into my office and stop.
Bigger is better, you understand, and in this manner I wouldn’t need to drop a couple hundred bucks on a brand-new tool. However just due to the fact that HDTVs look a heck of a lot like computer monitors doesn’t always suggest they can change computer system screens. Or does it? Here’s what you have to know if you’re thinking about sticking an HDTV on your desk.
Will Combination of TV & Computer Monitor Really Work?
The short answer: Yes, although you might need an unique cable depending on what type of input/output ports you’re dealing with.
How does HDMI work?
All contemporary HDTVs have HDMI inputs– some older HDTVs have DVI inputs rather– and some have VGA inputs for “PC use.” If your graphics card has an HDMI output, you’re great to go: Just use an HDMI cable television to link your PC to your HDTV. If your graphics card only has DVI outputs, I recommend snagging an inexpensive HDMI-to-DVI cable television and plugging it into your HDTV’s HDMI input. Although some HDTVs (and some graphics cards) have VGA inputs/outputs, this is not the perfect option– it’s an analog signal that will give you a far fuzzier, lower-resolution image than an HDMI or DVI signal.
If you’re establishing your HDTV as a 2nd or 3rd screen, you might have to use your PC’s DisplayPort output, in which case you can buy a DisplayPort to HDMI converter and plug into your HDTV’s HDMI input. The main difference in between HDMI and other digital signals is that HDMI carries sound along with video– if you use DVI or VGA, you’ll need to link your PC’s noise to the HDTV (or to external speakers) independently. (DisplayPort likewise carries audio signals.)
Before you start using your HDTV as a display, you need to figure out whether your graphics card/integrated graphics can outputting at the resolution of the HDTV. To do this, you’ll first need to discover the resolution of the HDTV by speaking with the maker’s manual. Be aware that some HDTVs have non-standard resolutions. Then, discover your graphics card’s optimum resolution by going to Control Panel > Display > Change show settings > Advanced settings > List All Modes. Find the resolution that matches your HDTV and choose it.
Will it look excellent?
Possibly, however this depends upon a number of elements, including what you want to use your HDTV screen for. Most reasonably-priced HDTVs peak at 1080p, or 1920-by-1080 pixel resolution. On a 15.6-inch laptop screen, the Windows desktop at 1080p looks quite darn excellent from a few feet away. On a 32-inch HDTV screen … not a lot.
What’s essential here is pixel density, or the number of pixels packed into one square inch of the screen. A 15.6-inch laptop screen has the same number of pixels as the 32-inch HDTV screen, however the laptop has a much higher pixel density (141.21 ppi) than does the HDTV (68.84 ppi). Thus, the laptop’s screen will appear clearer, sharper, and more in-depth than the HDTV’s screen when viewed from the same range. The importance of pixel density decreases with seeing range; that’s why the iPhone’s “Retina” screen has a density of 326ppi, while the MacBook Pro’s “Retina” screen has a density of just 227ppi.
What this indicates for you is that a larger but less pixel-dense HDTV screen will display text, icons, and images as blurred and hard to read if you’re sitting a typical watching distance– a number of feet– far from your computer system.
If you plan on using your HDTV monitor to do anything besides watch Netflix or play games, you’ll ideally have to find use an HDTV with a higher pixel density (I prefer to aim for at least 80ppi, which implies no larger than a 27-inch screen at 1080p) for comfortable watching. Or just hang it on the wall instead of plopping it on your desk.
Speaking of gaming, if you wish to use your HDTV screen to play games, there’s another aspect you’ll have to take into consideration: Input lag.
Input lag is the hold-up between motion you make on your input device (in this case, your mouse) and what displays on your screen. While numerous computer displays prioritize minimal lag times, many HDTVs do not, and focus on (laggy) video processing rather. However those additional milliseconds will absolutely make a difference when you’re playing a high-stakes FPS.
DisplayLag has a pretty good database of input lag times that you can sort by display type– you wish to choose an HDTV with a lag time of no greater than about 40 seconds. If you run into input lag problems while video gaming, attempt activating your HDTV’s “Game mode” setting if one is readily available.
Is it worth it?
If you’re seeking to get the best value, an HDTV isn’t really necessarily going to save you money over a screen. In truth, if you’re buying a brand-new display, I recommend sticking to the reliable computer screen. For one thing, smaller sized, less expensive HDTVs are normally 720p resolution, not 1080p, while similarly-priced monitors will usually be 1080p. So if you’re looking for something under 27 inches, an HDTV will most likely be more expensive and lower-resolution.
If you’re trying to find something bigger than 27 inches, bear in mind that pixel density decreases considerably with every few inches you get, and there’s a factor HDTV-makers suggest sitting a number of feet far from their developments. If you require a display screen that will multi-task as an up-close work/email screen as well as movie/entertainment display, you’ll want something with a high sufficient pixel density that text won’t be a pain to check out.
There is a perfect scenario where the HDTV-as-monitor shines, however.
If you want to add an additional screen to a single- or multi-display setup for home entertainment– say, so you can watch Netflix or Twitter while you write short articles, approximately you can play Skyrim on a 60-inch screen– then an HDTV can be a really capable (and cool!) display replacement. Benefit points if you occur to have an extra HDTV lying around, or if you can pick one up for dirt-cheap.