Using A 32 Inch HDTV As A Computer Monitor

A 32 inch HDTV can be used as a good computer monitor – and watch TV or play XBOX as well. Here’s a confession – I happily used a 22 inch CRT monitor for years – no 16:9 widescreen malarkey, no dead pixel problems so common in LCD screens, no slinky lightweight as slim as a paperback.

Just 62 pounds of power guzzling 4:3 screen real estate which produced a superior clear and precise image (and so it should because it cost well over $1,000 new). Sadly, the picture has faded in old age and the days of house sized CRT’s are long gone – LCD monitors are the only option.

To make matters worse they are all widescreen – good width if you want to watch DVD films (although very few people actually do) but the height of a young midget, cut off at the knees… Considering that websites, emails and documents need to be scrolled down, not across, such weedy screen height is a big turn off for me.

The ubiquitous 22 inch LCD widescreen seems a guarantee of RSI through overuse of the scroll wheel – even a 27 inch widescreen gives only a tiny improvement over my geriatric CRT – unfortunately a 30+ inch LCD monitor needs far deeper pockets than mine so I needed a cheaper alternative and found it in a 32 inch HDTV.

32 inch LCD HDTV – Obviously this has a great screen height (and width!) and you can use it to watch TV or play XBOX etc as well, not just as a computer monitor. After researching using a 32 inch LCD TV as a computer monitor I would recommend the following:

  • Buy a full HD 1080p TV with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – a lower resolution just isn’t enough for the size of screen so text may appear blurry.
  • Use a graphics card with HDMI output if you want the best picture quality and to pass sound through to the TV. Alternatively you can use VGA output (poorer quality picture) or DVI output with a DVI to HDMI adapter (same quality picture as HDMI) but neither will pass sound to the TV.
  • Ensure your graphics card can output at full HD 1920 x 1080 via HDMI. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gaming monster – a lowly ATI Radeon HD 3400 PCI-X card will do fine but an old computer may struggle.
  • If using for TV/bluray or with an XBOX as well, make sure the TV has enough HDMI ports for them and your computer.
  • Make sure you have the desk space! Sounds obvious but a 32 inch TV is big on a computer desk and you should be sitting a few feet away from the screen if you want to take in the whole screen in one go.
  • Don’t waste your money on expensive HDMI cables – every independent test we have seen finds no difference between cables costing $5 dollars and $100.

Conclusion

If wanting to use an HDTV as a computer monitor, even a cheap 1080P HDTV can have great picture quality – just be prepared to spend a few minutes adjusting the picture settings out of the box (e.g. contrast, brightness, backlight – often way too bright to start with).

Of course a TV will be gorgeous for watching video but the height and size of the screen makes using websites, email and documents so much easier and make it possible to open 2 windows side by side as if you had 2 smaller monitors (to allow easy copying/review of different documents etc).

There are usually at least 2 HDMI ports on HDTVs so you are unlikely to need more (if you buy one with too few ports you will need to buy a HDMI splitter/switch – should be about $20).

At 1920 x 1080 resolution I found the initial Windows font and text size to be too small for my liking so I changed the following in Windows: Changed Font Size to Large, changed to use Clear Type, changed to use Large Icons, changed DPI setting to be 105% normal size (101 dpi) – you may need to adjust one or all of these settings depending on your preference and how far away you sit from it.

Overall, opting for a 32 inch screen was well worth the money for me – yes, you can use a modern HDTV as a large computer monitor :-)

4 Responses to: "Using A 32 Inch HDTV As A Computer Monitor"

  1. Alex says:

    Firstly, LCD monitors are not like CRTs where you have to seen a few feet away when using large screens to avoid eyes strain due to flicker. There is no such thing in LCDs. Sitting 4-ft away from a 32-inch HDTV screen is like looking at a 24-inch LCD screen seated 2 ft away – a total waste of money. My 32-inch Samsung sits on the same PC desk I used for the last 20 years. And I am viewing it at 16 – 20 inches away when typing. Default text on a 1920 x 1080 setting is just perfect at this screen size. My earlier 22-inch Philips LCD was the one that needed to increase the text font sizes at HD resolution. .

    Secondly, HDMI is DVI plus multichannel high resolution audio. As far as picture resolution is concerned, DVI and HDMI qualities are the same.

    Thirdly, I know of no one who uses those pathetic HDTV speakers. All my friends route their audio to a multichannel or stereo amplifier. Even those Altec and Creative 2.1 systems are superior to anything on an HDTV.

    • Roy says:

      Interesting comments Alex.

      Re the first one, personal preference but I couldn’t sit that close or I couldn’t take in the whole screen at a time. Sitting a bit further back prevents the need for my eyes to constantly swivel back and forth, hence the need for a larger text size at 1920 x 1080. But each to their own, people should of course choose whatever they find best for their eyesight.

      Second point, thanks for the correction, amended to suit.

      Third point – I agree that amp or decent desktop speakers would be better if you have room and want louder, quality audio but some people don’t see the need to spend more money on a bulky speaker setup for a cheap PC/TV combo (e.g. in a study) in which case HDMI would suffice.

  2. jdwii says:

    I also use a 32 inch 1080P screen never go with 720P looks very bad my friend has it and its horrible to read on. I will never use a normal computer monitor again unless its a 32 inch one with over 1080P. Everything looks real good on my TV but like alex i also have my sound routed through a receiver(5.1 pionneer) with Polk audio monitor 30’s and a CS1 center with a Polk 10 inch sub. I use my PC for gaming/Videos and reading/music.