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TV Computer Displays

Posted By : of Data Doctors on February 2, 2005

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I would like to buy a TV to double as a computer monitor. What can I get?


This question was answered on February 2, 2005. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

There are a number of different options that you have, depending upon your actual usage of both the television and the computer.

Before you begin looking at television sets, you need to know what options your computer has for sending the signal to the TV The standard for most computer monitors is a 15 pin SVGA connector (five pins on each of three rows).

Computers with a higher level of video card can also have S-Video or DV(Digital Video) outputs Consult your computer dealer or owners manual to determine which options you have available.

If you plan on using a big screen television as a computer display, you will need to be a lot more particular than if you are talking about getting a smaller, desktop device.

Input options, screen resolution, and screen glare are all critical features on a large display.

Make sure that the unit has either a VGA, S-Video or DV input or in the best case scenario, all three options The standard for television is composite video (the little yellow RCA plug), which is not good for computer images

A standard television displays images in lines, while a computer monitor displays in dots or pixels If a computer image is displayed in lines, the dots are squished into the lines making text very hard to read Surfing the Internet on a television that can only display in lines is nearly impractical.

Virtually all of the new plasma/LCD/DLP displays are capable of displaying a clean computer image as long as the manufacturer has provided the traditional computer inputs on the back.

Make sure you compare the screen resolution capabilities in the computer mode (800x600 minimum) and check to see if screen glare from your background will be an issue by viewing it from different angles.

If at all possible, take a notebook computer with you to test any potential displays in the store before you make the purchase to eliminate the chances of a big surprise when you get it home.

If you are looking at smaller desktop displays, you have two options Buy a standard TV display (with the same requirements as above) or buy a TV tuner card to install in your computer so you can watch TV on your computer’s monitor.

Many companies offer special video adapters that have both a computer output and a TV tuner built-in This allows you to plug your cable television box, VCR, DVD, camcorder or any standard video device into the back of the computer and display it either full screen or in a window on any standard computer display.

Remember, computer displays are sharper than televisions, so displaying a lower resolution image is easy for any computer monitor.

Look for products such as ATI’s TV Wonder series ( and Hauppauge’s WinTV series ( that offer internal and external options.

If you really want to get high-tech, there are even HDTV options that can be added to your computer, but be sure that you understand how to get a HDTV signal before you invest in these more expensive cards (Cable and satellite providers often require you to have additional equipment)

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Posted by of Data Doctors on February 2, 2005

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