TV + Computer = disaster?
October 28, 2013 2:03 AM   Subscribe

I just realised that I am looking to get a 27" computer and a 32" TV. Is there a sensible way to combine both? Has anyone tried to use a HD TV monitor as a computer screen or a 27" iMac as a TV? Isn't there a way we can not buy two screens? Please, hivemind, let me know the practical issues that are worth considering. Thanks
posted by london302 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You'll probably run into resolution issues. Part of your question was answered by Lifehacker last year.
posted by Ms. Next at 2:06 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I worked for Apple's tech support a few years back, the EyeTV range had good things said about it. This would fit the scenario of using an iMac as a TV. I can't personally report on it as I never owned one but others have told me it does its job well.
posted by fearnothing at 2:19 AM on October 28, 2013

One practical issue is that at times you/someone else may wish to watch something while you/someone else wishes to use the computer.

Similarly proper/preferred viewing differences can be very different. I occasionally plug my laptop into our HD TV and I always have to zoom in if I wasn't too read anything between episodes.
posted by mountmccabe at 3:53 AM on October 28, 2013

I don't know about iMacs, but I run a Mac Mini on a 46" HD LED screen and it looks f'n awesome. I can easily browse the web on the Mac and read the text clearly from about 12 feet away, and watch High Def videos playing from the Mac. This all runs over HDMI.
posted by Diag at 5:16 AM on October 28, 2013

You could get an iMac plus an Aereo subscription. This will get you all the broadcast channels in your local area viewable on your computers, tablets, and phones. It is only available in a few cities so far, plus the channel selection is limited, but it works great.
posted by alms at 6:01 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my experience, more screens are better. I use two 27-inch screens for my computer and then I have a TV. More real estate means you can do more at once. And what will you do when you want to watch TV and use your computer at the same time? Personally I've never heard of having one monitor share computer and TV. I do watch most of my TV on my computer though as almost everything is online legally (and there are of course illegal options too, which we won't discuss). By having dual monitors, that means I can have video open full screen on one monitor and be typing/reading on the main one. You can also run your computer through your TV monitor when you want via an HDMI cable or something similar -- it's really easy.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:04 AM on October 28, 2013

What kinds of TV are you going to be watching? Cable? Internet Streaming?
What kinds of computer stuff are you going to be doing? Games or work?
Are you setting this up in a living room? Or are you a small space situation like a studio or dorm?

If you're a netflix/hulu/internet streaming TV watching with occasional OTA and you're in a small space situation, I'd say get the iMac and a TV Tuner. This gives you whatever over the air digital broadcasts are available in your area. Where I live, this gives me PBS, some local sports and news. Cable tuners also exist, though I don't have any experience using them (and I'm all about ditching cable TV). Then you can just pull up a chair, and use it as a computer like normal.

The issue with HDTV is that you have the same number of pixels, but those individual pixels are larger. A TV is really meant to be viewed from 3ft away, and a monitor more like 18 inches. If you're going to use the computer for games and sit 3ft away, you'd be fine. If you're going to use your TV for word processing, work type stuff, and sit at a normal computer distance, you're not going to be happy about it. If you're willing to drop mucho cash you can get a TV with higher than HD resolution and be happy with both situations. You would also be able to get a mac mini instead, which might come closer to evening out money wise.

My ideal, money is no object, situation would be a MacBook Pro, a really awesome 4K TV, a digital TV tuner, a digital receiver for my PS3, thunderbolt to HDMI, and surround sound speakers. Plus a TwleveSouth dock behind the TV, several cable organizers and it's all on a beautiful wall mounted shelf with concealed storage off to the side, (cables routed through the wall) allowing a chair to easily be pulled up front and used ergonomically with bluetooth key and mouse that are stored elsewhere. Plus, if you just want a laptop, you've got your laptop too. And if you grab your laptop and go the TV can still function as a TV.
posted by fontophilic at 6:31 AM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: I have a regular old desktop with a 46" HDTV as my monitor and a wireless keyboard/trackpad. This is perfect for me for the following reasons:

1) I live alone, so it doesn't matter that my only computer is only accessible from the couch.
2) I can watch absolutely anything I want on a nice, big screen without paying for any extra fees or special subscriptions.
3) I'm on a PC and use Windows Media Center with a tuner/antenna, so I have DVR capabilities on all the broadcast channels right there on my computer.

The downsides:
1) Reading text is a little annoying because of the resolution issues others above mentioned.
2) When my parents came to visit me they were confused.
posted by phunniemee at 7:02 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

We have the same set-up as phunniemee, as well as another in the den. That means we aren't stepping on each others recording preferences toes. 8 shows- no waiting.
I find that being able to surf together actually works quite well. There's much more conversation around the social sites we visit, and it's way to much fun to "shop" together in jammies.
It's not for everyone, and we also have our own ipads for games, but it can work for couples too.
posted by whowearsthepants at 7:32 AM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: Our 27" iMac is the TV for our house (2 adults, 2 kids) for all intents and purposes. We're mostly watching Netflix or (occasionally) iTunes stuff though, not so much cable shows. And we also have several idevices and a couple of old laptops so there are no screen issues. The 27" screen is plenty big enough for our place. I plug it into a Bose ipod/iphone speaker unit if we want better sound.

We do still have old TV, one I picked up for $50 and a working VHS and DVD player. Not that anyone uses them. I've got to get rid of that thing.
posted by Cuke at 9:06 AM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: At 27" there are two different resolutions available. 1080P(1920x1080) or 2560x1440(1440p). Televisions are 1080p only. Windows PCs can be either, the iMac is 2560x1440.

At computer working distances I feel with 1080p displays the pixels get too large and don't look great. The higher resolution computer monitors have smaller pixels that look better ( to me).

Computer monitors don't usually have the variety or number of inputs that you want for a television.

Televisions don't concern themselves with making sure all the pixels on your video are visible (over scan) which can cause problems with computer use. Many can be configured to work properly, but not all.

I'd reccomend separate monitors & televisions unless you exclusively want a home theater computer that you don't use for anything other than media.
posted by TheAdamist at 10:06 AM on October 28, 2013

I do the computer as TV setup, and use the above mentioned EyeTV to hook up my game consoles. There's some weird setting I had to find so it wouldn't helpfully buffer and make DDR unplayable.

But my "as TV" uses are - watch occasional dvd, some streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime, Wii and PS2. I have absolutely no idea how one gets channels.

I have my couch set up across the room from my computer desk. I couldn't use it as a computer from the couch, and it would be weird watching TV from the desk chair.
posted by ansate at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2013

I use my 55" TV as my main monitor (and have a 23" attached too), setup as my home theater. Monitor is next to the couch (for close up reading or puttering) while the TV is used for either the TV or monitor for game playing or media.

I can read the TV fine from the couch (have the browser set to zoom in a bit) and really love the setup.
posted by Twicketface at 11:23 AM on October 28, 2013

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