Using a TV instead of a monitor

desktop computer beside analog camera

Did you know you can use a TV instead of a monitor. However, there are a few things you need to think about when you do so, and I will cover those in due course.

So you want to use a TV as a monitor?

A monitor is designed for a specific purpose, to take whatever you give it and display it to the screen. In the days of CRT, that was using a VGA cable that told the different colour guns to fire as it would scan down the screen drawing the picture onto the phosphor coating that enabled you to see the picture. It’s a different process with LCD and LED monitors.

TVs are a different system to monitors, they have components in them to receive TV broadcasts, handle other input types and adjust the screen’s size and shape.

What resolution should I use?

Your computer will need to output in 16:9, so 1920×1080 on a widescreen HD TV.

I'm seeing black bars on the screen, help!

Unlike monitors, which often have a what you see is what you get approach to display, you can alter the picture size of a TV depending on the aspect ratio being supplied.

If you are watching an old TV show and see black bars down the sides, you can set the TV to show in 4:3 which stretches the picture slightly so that the bars disappear and people’s heads end up a different shape. You need to make sure the screen size is set to 16:9 to match your computer, or it will display incorrectly on the screen.

I can see the screen but the start menu is hidden

This problem is called OverScan and is a feature that can be changed in your graphics card. You can often change the location and size of the desktop in the graphics card menu to correct this problem.

Can I use a 4K TV as a monitor?

You can use a 4K TV as a monitor, bear in mind though is something called input lag. If you are planning on only using it for movies, you probably won’t notice the lag, but if you are expecting interactivity, a lag of 50-100ms will be noticeable. It’s caused by the way the TV has to process all the 4K input.

A 4K monitor doesn’t have to process the signal because it’s hardware is dedicated to just displaying the 4K picture as it is supplied by the computer.

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