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I am currently looking for a new TV screen since my current one is over 15 years old (about time, I guess).

I am seriously considering upgrading to a HTPC in the future (I am using a HDD recorder right now) mainly because of the improved flexibility and interface.

What I'm wondering: is it possible to hook up a computer flatscreen to a HDD recorder? I can imagine connecting it to a HTPC should be no problem at all (obviously).

The main reason I am asking this question is because I notice that computer screens are considerably cheaper than TV-screens and to me, it seems the payoff is that you can simply buy bigger TVs. In my personal case, 24" or perhaps 30" would be enough.

So, are there any good reasons to use a monitor screen as your primary TV screen and are there also good reasons not do it?

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5 Answers

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I don't know where you got the impression that PC monitors were cheaper.

A thirty-inch monitor goes for over a grand, but you can get a good 32" LCD for under five hundred

You are obviously getting a lot better resolution with the PC monitor, but if all you are doing is watching 720p TV content, get a TV.

Oh, and if you do decide to go the PC monitor route, make sure it supports HDCP, otherwise you might not be able to watch TV or Blu-Rays at full resolution

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at lower resolutions (24 and under mostly) monitors are roughly $300 and down, while LCD TVs are easily $600 and up. –  John T Aug 13 '09 at 15:31
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Do not confuse screen size with resolution -- 24" is the size. An HDTV might have 1080 pixels on the Y axis, but the same 24" sized computer screen would have 1200. –  Kevin Panko Aug 13 '09 at 16:15
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But that is not comparing like-for-like, usually. Most monitors in that size range are panel types that don't have such good viewing angles or colour reproduction. They also lack a tuner and the capability to deal with interlaced signals, and often don't support HDCP which limits the devices they can display content from. –  David Spillett Aug 13 '09 at 16:16
    
The LCD TVs include a built-in tuner, hence the additional price. –  Rob Allen Aug 13 '09 at 16:33
    
I think this answer is very biassed and not well supported with facts. –  bert Nov 2 '09 at 9:36
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After you get into the higher resolutions, it seems to turn the other way around (monitors have a much bigger gain in price than televisions it seems). Although with the lower sizes you're talking about it's fine.

The only downsides I see are:

  • The monitor cannot be turned off via remote without buying extra peripherals.
  • You will need to purchase additional hardware such as a cable box to allow you to hook up different consoles (gaming consoles, DVD players, Blu-ray...)
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Monitors auto switch to the incomming signals instead of TV's and they switch off automatically with no signal. Try that on a TV! –  bert Nov 2 '09 at 9:11
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For a number of years in college, I used one of my monitors as a primary screen, including TV. The only issue is that you have to dedicate some resources to a TV tuner in your system. At the time, tuners were a little buggy and had annoying software.

The only reason against it is that it is really not friendly to group viewing, which is where the large screens of the TV shine. Many monitors, especially badly-built LCDs, will have bad viewing angles, as they are built to have one person look at them directly. TVs on the other hand are viewable from basically any angle you can see the screen from, and that helps when you have 2-3 people watching the same screen.

Most newer Computer LCDs will have the hookups you need for connecting your HDD recorder. I've seen ones with S-Video, and with component inputs or RCA cable ports, just check the specs.

You should also be careful about screens which are very large, as they sometimes require special drivers, video cards, or multiple monitor hookups in order to function. Once you get near 30" at high resolution you begin to have to worry about this.

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Viewing angles on small TV's are always bad as they only come in TN flavour. With computer monitors on the other hand you have a good selection of S-IPS/S-PVA panels in the small size range with excellent viewing angles. Thus the viewing angle argument is in favour of computer screens instead of against it. –  bert Nov 2 '09 at 9:32
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It really depends on the size

If you really think 24-27 inch is large enough, then go for a computer screen!

  • TV's under 32 inch are ALL based on TN panels and have bad viewing angles
  • Most TV's under 32 inch have a 1366x768 resolution. This resolution is totally useless as it is not FullHD and not 720P, which would need 720x1280 for 1:1 pixel mapping
  • TV's use more energy as they are bigger and brighter
  • TV's have a bigger input lag most of the time (affects gaming)

Computer display options with a far better image quality than any TV under 32 inch:

  • HP LP2475W: a wide gamut 1920x1200 H-IPS screen with a zillion inputs and SPDIF HD audio pass through
  • Dell 2410U or 2709W are a H-IPS and a S-PVA display with 1920x1200 pixels. The 2709W is a multi-input champion too.
  • The Nec EA231WMi-BK is a 23 inch FullHD IPS panel with 1920x1080 pixels
  • The HP W2600HP is a 26 inch IPS panel
  • The new 27 iMac is a steal too. It is usign a 27 inch IPS panel with a stellar 2560x1440 resolution, and it is having a real good price for a screen + a computer. So you have a good HTPC at the same time. The iMac can be used as external display for your Playstation or Multi media receiver connected stuff too.

About the remote: Computer screens have no remotes, but its a plus instead of a minus. It saves you one remote on the desk. TV's are designed around remotes, so they are built not smart. A monitor just shows the signal it receives, and if no signal is fed, it shuts off automatically. So no remote is no problem!

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I was thinking of doing the same thing, but as an educational exercise. I see that I can buy a sync separator chip. What output from a video player should I feed into it - the one called "video"? There are also a R,G and a B outputs from the video player so presumably I feed these as inputs to the monitor's R,G and B inputs? My one is an old CRT tube. If I do this will I get something that I can see, on the screen? It seems to me that I should but not knowing the effect of TV colour signals on my monitir I'm not really sure. Can anyone advise, please?

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