HTPC, xbx360, External monitor - is there one display to rule them all?
February 17, 2009 5:27 PM   Subscribe

AVfilter: Have XBox 360, Mac, and HTPC/cable box - need one display, 25 inches or larger, to use with all 3. Should I be shopping for an HDTV (no tuner req'd) or a Computer monitor?

So I'm going to lose the big ol' CRT HDTV I've grown fond of.
And I'm probably going to be moving to a smaller place.
So I'm looking for a single LCD display that can handle all my display-type needs:

Big external monitor for Mac and/or PC laptops (=DVI input)
Screen for an XBox 360 (=HDMI or Component input)
Screen for watching HDTV, either cable or more likely from a HTPC of some type, capturing/playing OTA HDTV/torrented files/DVDs/hulu, etc. (=DVI, HDMI, possibly component inputs)
Sounds like my ideal box has one each of DVI, HDMI, and Component.

I really am going to be using this as the "main" monitor for the computers I use, so it has to perform very well up close.

I don't know if HDTV LCD panels and computer monitors are pretty much interchangeable these days or what?

Set me straight, hive mind!

(TV Tuner I have taken care of on the computers, sound is a whole 'nother issue. Just looking for box that makes with the pretty pictures and the showing of them.)
posted by bartleby to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's pretty simple: if you're going to be using it as a monitor, you want a monitor. Check out the refurbished Dell monitors at Dell Outlet; the prices are rather good for the quality. I recently bought a 27" (resolution is 1920x1200) and it works great for everyday computing and console gaming.
posted by L0 at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2009

Yes, if you're going to be using the Mac for "work", you will want a monitor, which will then be overkill quality for the games and TV.

Note this will be way more expensive than an HDTV, but your eyes will thank you later.
posted by rokusan at 6:01 PM on February 17, 2009

The big difference is pixel density - basically if you need to read text that's coming from a computer input then get a computer monitor. If you're just watching video/playing games, you can use a tv. I have a mac mini set up as a media center and run it into a TV as opposed to a monitor; if I need to do anything that's text oriented I can access it via VNC.
posted by kid_dynamite at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2009

Buy a 1080p LCD monitor. They're sold as HDTVs, and can do large-resolutions. I have an LVM 42-W2 from Westinghouse, which is great for all of the things you mentioned.

Note that as a monitor, it does not contain a tuner.
posted by ellF at 6:24 PM on February 17, 2009

I don't have one, but Samsung makes a monitor with all three input types and a tuner - the T260HD (cheaper at Amazon). Mount options are somewhat limited (no VESA), but otherwise, it seems like a pretty amazing piece of display machinery.
posted by dilettanti at 6:52 PM on February 17, 2009

Seconding dynamite: If you are going to use the mac for anything involving text, you'll want to buy a monitor. Personal experience (see: trying it on a roommate's TV) has shown me that text on a TV is fuzzy and a strain on the eyes due to the lower pixel density.

Also seconding L0: Check Dell Outlet. A lot of Dell monitors, especially in the size range you're talking about, have at least one, if not two HDMI inputs. And they're excellent monitors at that. I use this Dell 2709 at work and love it.
posted by troutforbrains at 7:45 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: They are largely interchangeable, with a little of work. I have a 32" LCD HDTV that I can use as a monitor for my computer (e.g. I use it to watch movies). It doesn't have a DVI port on the back, but it does have HDMI, and I bought an HDMI-DVI cable for only a few bucks.

It sounds to me like you'd do best with a 22" or 24" monitor. I have a friend who has his 360 and computer hooked up to his monitor, and he just switches between them. Alternatively, I'd suggest a smaller HDTV and a handful of cables.
posted by gchucky at 7:49 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: I use a 42" Samsung 1080p television for exactly the same setup. Well, I have a linux box instead of a Mac, and a PS3 instead of an xbox. But, same difference. I also used a Sharp 1080p screen as a secondary monitor at work for about a year, since I was doing graphics programming for a product that used a 1080p screen.

1080p is 1920 x 1080 pixels. The "pixel density" is determined by how big the display's screen is. Bigger television, lower density. It might be annoying to have a very large television if you're sitting up close to it. Also, do NOT buy a television that's only going to do 1080i for you--your computer won't know how to talk to it properly, and you will get a degraded picture.

I really don't find that things are fuzzy or eye-strain inducing at all. The one issue I do have is that I sit pretty far away from the screen, and so have to turn up the font size to compensate... but, in my old apartment, this wasn't an issue at all, since I sat closer.
posted by Netzapper at 10:03 PM on February 17, 2009

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