Computer Monitor as TV
I have a 30-inch computer monitor, and it would be great to be able to watch live television in my home office, without having to buy a separate TV set. Is it possible to use a computer monitor as a TV screen?
How to Use Your Computer Monitor as a TV
Flat-screen TVs have come down in price in recent years, but they still aren't exactly cheap. If you have a decent-sized flat-panel computer monitor, you can watch TV on the monitor by adding a bit of specialized hardware that costs less than $100. (If you came here looking for help doing the opposite -- using your TV as a computer monitor -- see my companion article TV as Computer Monitor.)
The hardware you need to use your computer monitor as a television is called a TV tuner, and it can be integrated with a computer or packaged as a standalone device. Some tuners require your computer's operating system to work, but many do not. So it's your choice whether you want to watch TV at your computer, on the same monitor you use for computing, or put the tuner and monitor in the living room just a regular TV. Let's look at the pros and cons.
- Pro: you'll save money and space by using the same monitor for computing and TV viewing.
- Con: you'll wear out your computer chair much faster by spending twice as much time in it.
- Pro: you can watch TV in whatever privacy your computing workspace offers.
- Con: the rest of the family may miss you, and television if you don't have a TV in the living room.
TV tuners that integrate into your computer include PC cards with all the tuner circuitry built into them, plus application software for controlling the card's functions; and cards that rely upon operating system features such as Windows Media Center; you'll need the Media Center edition of Windows to use this type of card.
External TV tuners are housed in cases about the size of a cable TV set-top box; these can be used without a computer. They have their own power supplies so you will need an outlet for the tuner as well as the monitor. Controls include pushbuttons and remote control handsets.
Some internal TV tuners are integrated with high-end graphics engines, making them suitable for playing fast-paced, high-resolution games as well as watching TV. The popular ATI All-In-Wonder card is an example of this breed. At the low end are $70-$100 cards like the GeForce 9500GT and at the high end is the $250 GTX 275.
The difference in price reflects the power of the graphics engine in the card; the HD capabilities of the tuner; the number and types of connectors; and last of all, the amount of RAM on the card. Check reviews of graphics engines for buying guidance, and consider RAM secondarily. Often, a high-end graphics engine performs better than a low-end one with more RAM.
Whichever solution you choose, make sure that it supports the type of TV signal that you want. Some very cheap tuners do not support high-definition TV at all, while others support only lower resolutions. Also make sure that the input cable you will use has a compatible connector on the tuner you buy.
Watching TV on a computer monitor is a low-cost alternative to buying a separate television set. It can also be an environmentally friendly alternative to tossing out or even recycling that old monitor when you buy a new one.
Do you have something to say about using a computer monitor as a TV? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Mar 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Computer Monitor as TV (Posted: 23 Mar 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved