TV versus Monitor

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Today’s Question: I can get a nice 32-inch, 4K, name-brand monitor for about $600. I can get a 40-inch, 4K, name-brand television for $300. Why should I buy the monitor rather than the TV?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, a television can provide an equivalent viewing experience compared to a computer monitor. There are a handful of features to check for, but provided the TV has adequate specifications, you can most certainly use a TV in place of a computer monitor.

More Detail: A television is obviously virtually identical to a computer monitor in terms of the core feature of presenting an image on the screen. The primary difference is the intended use, which in turn impacts some of the commonly available features.

For example, a TV will often support different input options compared to a computer monitor. You will therefore want to confirm that any TV you purchase supports and input that your computer also supports. Many computers, for example, support an HDMI connection, which is supported by virtually all TVs and many computer monitors.

Another potential issue is the lag time for a TV compared to a computer monitor. Lag time can create a delayed presentation or poor playback in some situations, but this is mostly an issue for advanced games as opposed to typical photo or video applications. Most newer TVs don’t have a major issue with lag, and many include an option to turn off processing so the lag goes away. If possible, I would opt for a TV that includes the option to turn off processing for this purpose.

Finally, a higher refresh rate can be helpful, although this is also primarily an issue for games and not generally significant for photo or video applications. That said, many TVs are limited to a 60 Hertz refresh rate, compared to a 120 Hertz refresh rate that is common for monitors. If possible, I would opt for a TV with a 120 Hertz refresh rate.

In general there are not significant concerns with using a TV in place of a computer monitor. As a general rule, if you opt for a high-quality TV, you’ll have an excellent experience with a potentially larger display at a smaller price compared to a dedicated computer display.