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My small (22") monitor went bad on the pc I use to watch hulu/netflix with... The kids like to use this computer to play online games. I am considering buying a HDTV (~32") to replace the smaller lcd. Is this a viable solution that will give satisfactory performance for both types of use?

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migrated from Jul 26 '09 at 16:11

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Televisions and monitors have different characteristics, such as brightness, reflectivity, resolution, price, etc.

Typical 32" LCD has 1366 x 766 resolution, and wouldn't be comfortable for daily work. Casual online gaming should be ok though.

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Yep, I've got a 32" with 1366 x 768. It's nice for films and games, but for browsing the web the 768 height feels very small. – Rich Bradshaw Aug 27 '09 at 17:06

Sure. Current HDTV's are essentially large monitors with TV tuners built in.

There are differences, mainly pixel density (or PPI).. The highest resolution TV you will get is 1920x1080, and it might be 50 inches. I have a 1920x1080 computer monitor and it's only 22 inches - meaning those 1920 pixels are smaller and closer together, thus the image will be sharper on the smaller display.

The lower pixel density is good for TV's, as the size of the screen is much more important, because you tend to sit several meters from the TV.. PC monitors have higher pixel density, and higher resolution because you sit closer to the screen, and it makes things like small text easier to read.

I wouldn't buy an HDTV for a computer if I was planning to do lots of coding, or anything involving reading much text etc.. but for games, or a media center, HDTV's are perfect (I have a 32" HDTV, which is 720p, or about 1280x720 resolution and it's great for films/games, it's fine for web-browsing, but not for too long)

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As long as you use an LCD with a square pixel aspect, sure - no problem at all. If the PC is already an HTPC why not have it connected directly to such a device?

It might lack some features or sharpness (or do way too much post-processing) for it to be comfortable for professional use but for playing games, watching videos and some surfing - definitely usable. Try to get one with a standard native HD resolution so you can easily set the PC at the native resolution as well - to avoid scaling artefacts.

Obviously, playing pc games on it could be quite a ride if trying to sit as close to it as before (keyboard+mouse games) - that's about the only problem I can think of.

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As Dani said, "Typical 32" LCD has 1366 x 766 resolution". The problem is that few video cards support this resolution. The nearest is probably 1360x768 and you can end up with aliasing that makes text look terrible. If you use a DVI to HDMI cable you may find your PC will offer 1:1 pixel mapping to something like 1360x768 with blank strips at the edges of the screen. But it depends on the TV. My cheapo 32" TV insists on scaling the display to fit the screen even through DVI and while it's usable, you wouldn't want to work on it for long.

If you can stretch to a 1080p screen then the problems go away, but of course it would be (much) cheaper to buy a new monitor.

John Rennie

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Yes, you'll get more than satisfactory performance. But choose your TV carefully.

I use a Sony Bravia 32" LCD TV (KLV-32S400A) as a monitor. It's plugged into a Mac Mini via HDMI at full resolution. The image and text quality is just spectacular. Make sure you get a TV that's designed also for use as a monitor. One way to check this is to see the TV settings menu and look out for some options specific to monitor usage. Also a VGA-in connector is also a good sign, as it means the designers specifically expected the TV to be used as a monitor.

Sony is a good choice as they sell their own media center PCs which are designed to be plugged into thier TVs.

And of course, if your graphics card cannot keep up with the TV's HD resolution, then don't bother. You'll hate it.

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Pretty much every flat panel TV I've seen has a VGA connection, even a cheap ~13" standard-def TV! Also, I doubt any vaguely recent graphics card would struggle with 1920x1080, aside from in games maybe.. – dbr Jul 27 '09 at 6:18
VGA-in connections are great, but commonly cannot accept the TV's native resolution. Use HDMI if at all possible. – joeforker Aug 19 '09 at 19:34

The biggest problem I see, is that typical TV has almost no vertical tilt, so you cannot just put it on the table an use it as a really big monitor.

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I have a 50" DLP HDTV. While it is great for movies and gaming, it's pretty terrible for reading text smaller than the standard fonts in Windows Media Center's interface (games with text that I actually need to read aren't pleasant either, like Civ4).

I've seen 27-32" HDTV LCD's that were passable for reading text on, especially when switching to 120 DPI in the display settings.

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I would not pick a TV for computer use. The reasons:

  • TV's are super bright. Mostly too much for watching from close. Check if you can turn it down to say 100-150cd/m2, otherwise skip it.
  • TV's have a big input lag. Because of all the image processing, a TV can take 3-4 frames before it actually shows the image coming in. That's frustrating hard core gaming
  • TV's use more energy. You have to put them further back for good viewing, but a smaller screen, at a closer distance with the same resolution would give the same usability for computer use.

If you still consider a TV, check this:

  • input lag
  • panel type: lot of small TV's (<32 inch) have cheap TN panels
  • resolution: 1366x768 is still a very common resolution on a 32 inch or smaller TV. That won't work for computer use.
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