LCD Monitor Starring as TV
January 21, 2010 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I want to use a LCD monitor as a TV. What do I need to do to make this dream come true?

I've been browsing newegg and Dell, and have noticed that LCD in the sizes I want (19'-24') are cheaper than TV's in the same price range. So, it got me thinking that I might want to just use an LCD monitor as my second TV.

I don't need HDTV capability or the ability to hook up a cable box. I just want to hook up a DVD player to watch movies and TV shows.

My question is what do I need to make this happen? I've seen some old threads from 2005-07 that have several suggestions for products that are no longer made or outdated. There may also be some new methods that have emerged in that time.

posted by reenum to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hook up a secondhand Xbox 360. Dell monitors (or at least the one I have, which is about five years old, 24") have component and VGA inputs, both of which the 360 supports. You'll want to get some external speakers as well. All up this will likely be a little more than a TV, probably, but that's cool because you'll have a 360. That said, I'm sure you'll be able to find a DVD player with component cables anyway.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:31 PM on January 21, 2010

What kind of video output connectors do you have on the DVD player? Do you have a way to hear the audio (i.e. an amplifier and speakers)?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:31 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: The DVD player is a Philips DVP5960. It seems to have HDMI and component video outputs.

I do have a couple of computer speakers and a subwoofer I could use for sound if needed.
posted by reenum at 2:41 PM on January 21, 2010

If you're talking about buying a new monitor for this, there's a decent chance it will have HDMI.

If it does and also has built in speakers, then you're basically set right there, as you say your DVD player has hdmi output.
posted by utsutsu at 2:44 PM on January 21, 2010

If the monitor doesn't have HDMI or component inputs, you can get one of these to turn your DVD player's component output into VGA...

The computer speakers should work just fine.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2010

HDMI will work for the video. The sound might be an issue - while the HDMI cable carries audio data, built-in monitor speakers can be even worse than built-in TV speakers. My 24" monitor has no speakers, but has an 1/8" output that can then be run to a stereo - look for something like that (it may be standard.)
posted by Wulfhere at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2010

If you have to convert to VGA, be careful what you buy. Without going into excessive detail, there's two ways to do component video, and they're not compatible. I once tried to cheap out on hooking a Wii to my monitor via cables like mr_roboto suggested, and ended up with a green-only picture and a useless adapter.
posted by Wulfhere at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2010

A lot of monitors these days have HDMI inputs, but if yours doesn't, you can get a dirt-cheap HDMI to DVI adapter (the two formats are identical as far as video is concerned).

However, DVI doesn't support the HDMI digital sound signal, so if you choose this route you'll need to connect the sound through the analog output ports -- either to a separate speaker system, or to your monitor's audio input jack if has speakers of an acceptable quality.
posted by teraflop at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: You need a monitor with either DVI or HDMI, and an output source with HDMI (you can do DVI->HDMI with cheap dongle). You will also need external speakers unless the monitor you buy has them built in.

If you really need to hook up component, it's better to buy a monitor that natively has component inputs vs a component->VGA converter. They usually don't work that well and cost $$$.

Also, do NOT buy the VGA/component cable linked by mr_roboto. They will only work if your input device explicitly states that it has this capability. Most do not.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:55 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a downside in that monitors don't have remote controls. You'll need to get your butt off the couch to turn the monitor on or off, or leave it on all the time. Leaving it on isn't necessarily bad if the monitor goes into sleep/low power mode when there's no input signal but I would personally want to test that before committing to a specific monitor.
posted by chairface at 4:00 PM on January 21, 2010

You can actually search newegg by connector type, and a lot of LCDs have HDMI inputs.

Here are all the monitors on newegg with 1 HDMI input, and here are the ones with TWO inputs (Starts at 24.6" for $199)

Just click on 'advanced search', then under the HDMI dropdown, select 1 or 2, if you want to narrow the search down even further. And don't bother with the built-in speakers. Newegg has a A lot of speakers.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2010

So just to help

I recently bought This Monitor 24" HDTV with HDMI in (note you can also use newegg for perfectly good ~$5 HDMI cables don't go to Best Buy and spend $50 bucks on these). This monitor is awesome and highly rated on CNET.

It comes with a remote as well.

I do advanced TV application development so I actually switch between using this as a monitor and a video playback device with a Roku and it does both beautifully. (actually I also use an Over the Air HD Antenna to even pick up a few local HDTV Channels) The sound is okay but not a big deal for me but it also has a mini jack output for connecting to external speakers.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:19 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: We have a similar setup at home; a cheap and cheerful upscaling DVD player hooked up to an LCD monitor.

HDMI carries both audio and video information, so initially I was using the speakers on the monitor for sound. However built-in speakers always suck and these were no exception.
However the monitor did have a headphone socket, so I was able to use a headphone jack to RCA cable to connect the monitor to the AUX inputs of my mini-stereo (Denon UD-m30 in case anyone cares.)
Then I noticed the DVD player had RCA outputs so I hooked up the DVD player directly to the stereo.
Sound quality is pretty good, even without a sub-woofer.

The best solution would be to buy an AV Receiver with HDMI in/out. Then you could connect the DVD player to the receiver and out to the monitor by HDMI so you'd get a fully digital video signal path and hook up your speakers and sub-woofer for 2.1 channel sound.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 2:13 AM on January 22, 2010

I looked at the one bitdamaged linked to, but ended up buying something different. The bottom line is that for $30 more, you can get a monitor with a TV tuner built in (aka a TV). It seemed like a nice to have, so that's what we did.
posted by fixedgear at 4:06 AM on January 22, 2010

(heh you didn't need to spend $30 more that one has a tuner too ;-)
posted by bitdamaged at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2010

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