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Should I use a TV as a monitor?
December 25, 2011 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I am planning on purchasing a new, larger monitor to connect to my 13" 2011 MacBook Pro. I'd like to consider the possibility of using a TV as a monitor, so I can possibly get a larger sized screen. However, I've never purchased a TV, only using someone else's old school hand-me-downs, so I know nothing about them. Looking for advice.

I'm considering either a 27" Viewsonic LED Monitor or a 30" to 32" tv. This will be for my office, where I use mainly Safari, Pages, Gmail, Keynote, Omnifocus, and a little iMovie.

I'd like some help learning the pros and cons of using a monitor vs a tv as a monitor for my setup. I'm a pretty technically savvy guy, but tvs are my Achilles heel, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, as always.
posted by 4ster to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you don't need a tuner, there's absolutely no reason to get a TV over a monitor for a computer.
posted by empath at 7:30 PM on December 25, 2011




I occasionally use a tv as a second monitor for a mac. Works fine - but be aware, the discrepancy between pixel densities can be quite odd. Check the maximum resolution of the tv, and ideally, try it out in a store somewhere.
posted by iotic at 7:43 PM on December 25, 2011


The con is that TVs are not as high resolution. A 30" TV is 1080p (1920x1080). A 30" monitor is 2560x1600, which is a lot more pixels. So you can fit a more stuff on the monitor and still have it clear than you could on a TV. This will particularly be important with text.
posted by aubilenon at 7:57 PM on December 25, 2011


The positives of having a television is that it's a television and has sound built in.

I do this with a 32" LG LED LCD television via HDMI. I have zero issues with it, and text is clear enough to read that it is not consequential. That said, YMMV, and I don't use the television as a mirror of my desktop but as an extension of the desktop so I'm not sure how or if this might affect scaling.

Talk to some sales reps at your local stores and see if they would be willing to let you test -- I think this is the only way that you can be sure you'll be satisfied.
posted by erstwhile at 8:18 PM on December 25, 2011


The positives of having a television is that it's a television and has sound built in. I do this with a 32" LG LED LCD television via HDMI.

Well unless it changed in the last year, the DisplayPort connection coming out of the Macbook does not send sound. So don't forget you're going to have to connect audio as well.

I've tried doing this, this resolution point is correct, not to mention I don't know what to say about staring at tv's from a foot away. Also are you running the 13" with the i7 chip? Curious if you are happy with it, if it's fast.
posted by phaedon at 8:35 PM on December 25, 2011


Well unless it changed in the last year, the DisplayPort connection coming out of the Macbook does not send sound. So don't forget you're going to have to connect audio as well.

It did, actually — everything after the mid-2010 refresh (April-ish, if I remember right,) supplies audio over MiniDisplay/Thunderbolt.
posted by heeeraldo at 9:15 PM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would not want to use a TV as a monitor for something like word processing or web browsing; text just doesn't look sharp. Photo editing or graphics likewise; saturation tends to be off. And it's more fatiguing to look at from desktop viewing distances. For watching videos on a HTPC, though, it works great.
posted by supercres at 10:35 PM on December 25, 2011


The positives of having a television is that it's a television and has sound built in.

A lot of monitors do, too. Mine does.
posted by empath at 10:43 PM on December 25, 2011


The big advantage to using a monitor in this situation is the potential for higher resolution (although the monitor you link is 1080p, like a TV will be) and sharper text.

The big advantage to using a TV is the picture will be better. Affordable large-screen monitors use cheap(er) TN panel technology, most examples of which have poor-quality blacks and dark colours -- if you look straight-on at an LCD screen and see the dark colours turn silvery when you move your head, that's a TN panel -- and 6-bit rather than 8-bit colour -- they can't reproduce the colours from your computer without dithering, so if you look closely you may be able to see a "fizz" to some colours.

Almost all TVs use VA- or IPS-panels, which don't suffer from silver blacks and most models of which have full 8-bit colour. Note that silver blacks are different from the greyish blacks LCD screens can have if the backlight is turned up too high.

The main differences between VA and IPS panels: VAs are better at providing truly black blacks; IPSes usually have more accurate and more vibrant colours. Monitors using these panels are more expensive, particularly at larger sizes.

For office work a TN panel is generally fine, since you don't need stellar colour reproduction to type. Additionally, very good quality TN panels, such as the ones Apple use, can minimise or almost eliminate its weaknesses, so make sure you view any monitors in person. If you're likely to do more video editing in the future, though, I'd suggest a TV, upping your monitor budget so you can afford an IPS or VA screen, or buying a smaller size of monitor with a better panel.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:05 AM on December 26, 2011


Thank you to everyone for your help. I think I am going to just go with the 27" monitor.

You guys are the best. Happy New Year.
posted by 4ster at 9:50 AM on December 26, 2011


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