Help Me Watch TV AND Work from Home
May 23, 2012 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a monitor that will double as a TV, or a TV that will double as a monitor.

I have a small home office that I'm almost done putting together. I'd like to use it as a den/workspace equally. It's cozy (small), so I'd like to use a monitor as my TV, and vice versa.

It will ideally sit on my desk, so nothing too huge, but I want to see it from across the room (the office is about 10'X10', so "across the room" isn't that far, honestly). I have an HDTV cable box installed.

I work on a series of PC laptops, and often do graphic design and text stuff.
posted by xingcat to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
As long as your computers support HDMI output, most modern televisions will be able to suit your needs. I don't know if they do, though.
posted by jumelle at 7:22 AM on May 23, 2012

If your computer has either a DVI or HDMI output, any TV with an HDMI input will work. You have your choice of LCD, LED or if you so choose, a plasma.

I bought a 32" Samsung LCD and use it mainly as a monitor. It was one of the few TVs at the time I could find at that size supporting 1080. It has a great picture. My only suggestion is to run it at the native resolution of the panel. If you get a 720P TV, use it at 1280 x 720. If you get a 1080P, run it at 1920 x 1080. While it will take the input, the scaler can add some artifacts.

Cables can be found for cheap at monoprice.
posted by Climber at 7:23 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

TVs usually don't make great monitors because the pixel density is so low. 1920x1080 is fine on a 24" monitor but pretty rough on a 32" TV that's sitting on your desk.
posted by The Lamplighter at 7:43 AM on May 23, 2012

If you have an HD cable box with a HDMI output, and don't need an actual tuner in the TV/monitor, you should look for "digital signage displays". You'll get a lot higher resolution for a lot less money. Unfortunately there's often less variety of them to choose from.

posted by chundo at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2012

The digital signage displays are the same resolution as normal TVs and cost a lot more. They also usually don't have speakers or stands built in.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:32 AM on May 23, 2012

If your laptop doesn't have a DVI connector on itself, check if there's a dock sold for it and whether or not the dock has one.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:47 AM on May 23, 2012

XKCD has a cheeky comic on this sort of thing, which is to say I agree with The Lamplighter. TVs are meant to be seen at a distance, while monitors are for up-close viewing. Because of that, monitors have much higher pixel density than HDTVs.

As folks have said, it's not terribly difficult to find a small HDTV to double as a monitor. I suggest you and see a few such TVs in person, so you can see how they would look as monitors and as TVs. Given that you work with text and graphics, I don't think HDTVs would be high enough definition for you, but I could be wrong.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 AM on May 23, 2012

The problems with using a TV as a monitor has been nicely summarized here (and nicely illustrated by the XKCD comic). So, if you want something that's going to be good with your computer (particularly for "graphic design stuff,"), then what you probably want is a big monitor. Apple will sell you a 27" monitor with good resolution for $1000 (Newegg gives you more options for around the same price).

Using these monitors in conjunction with an HDMI "TV" source might work well for you.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: If a TV as a monitor will be unacceptable in terms of resolution (and vice versa), if it would make more sense to get both a TV and a monitor (I have some wall space to hang a flatscreen on the wall) in terms of cost, I'm open to hearing that. $1,000 for a good TV that doubles as a monitor is more than I'd spend on both, I think.
posted by xingcat at 6:39 PM on May 23, 2012

I could be talking out of my arse, but I think if you get a full 1080p HDTV but go for a smaller form, you're forcing a higher resolution into a smaller space and making the image more crisp up close. In other words, a "true" HDTV of a smaller size might look better up close than a larger TV with the same HTDV resolution. Searching for 1080p 37" HDTVs turn up a number of models in the $300 to $600 range.

Go into some stores and check out various models, but remember default (HD)TV settings are generally intended for brightly lit showrooms, so you'll have to adjust your set at home.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:21 PM on May 24, 2012

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