Everything you need to know to use a television as a monitor

television as a monitor

Can television be used as a monitor?

Yes, you can use a television as a monitor. Actually, there are many reasons to use a television as a monitor; but before doing so, you must take into account some peculiarities that we will discuss step-by-step.
For decades, the television and the monitor were two very different types of apparatus; Very few people really wanted to connect the monitor to the TV, and to do this you usually needed your own converters and cables. However, since flat screens arrived, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between the two products.

At the moment of truth, there is nothing that prevents us from connecting a computer to the television or using a monitor as a TV. In fact, thanks to the popularization of mini-PCs, it is very easy to build our own multimedia equipment, with which to enjoy both movies and video games.

Why would you want to use a television as a monitor?

Using television as a monitor has several advantages that can convince you.

  • TVs are more versatile. Connected multiple external monitors only serve to show the image that comes through an entrance; On the other hand, any current television that is worthwhile has added functions, such as Smart TVs. And if you want to connect something, you can do it without problems with connections HDMI, USB, analog, Ethernet, etc.
  • Larger size and more technical advances at a lower price. At the same size, television will always be cheaper than a monitor. Not only that, but it is much easier to find large televisions, larger than 40 inches, while the monitor market focuses on smaller models. In addition, it is easier and cheaper to find televisions with fashionable technologies, such as HDR and 4K resolution.
  • You most likely already have a television at home, one that can be compatible with your computer with a minimum of work. Another thing is that it is appropriate, but we are going to talk about that now.

Choose the right connection

Before rushing out to connect your PC to the TV, there are a few details you should keep in mind if you don’t want an experience noticeably inferior to that of a monitor.

  • The first obstacle that you may run into is that you simply cannot connect the PC to the TV. The vast majority of today’s televisions have at least one HDMI input; if your graphics card does not have that type of connection (such as having only DisplayPort), you may find yourself needing to use an adapter.
  • Things get complicated if we take into account that not all HDMI connections are the same. For example, if the TV still uses the HDMI 1.4 standard or lower, you will have serious limitations in terms of resolution, refresh rate, and color quality. If you want to enjoy 4K resolutions, you will be limited to 30 Hz (or 30 frames per second); this does not make a difference when watching movies, but you will notice it while playing.
  • Of course, this connection limitation may also indicate that the TV is already a few years old, or that it is not good enough to enjoy on your PC. Therefore, if only with the connection you already encounter these types of problems, it is likely that it is not worth using your TV; think better of investing in a monitor.

Remember this about connections

· Make sure your TV has an HDMI 2.0 or higher connection.
· Correctly configure the display on your system. You may want to sacrifice resolution to improve the refresh rate.
· If your PC doesn’t have an HDMI output, you can get an adapter from stores like Amazon.

Default settings and “technologies” added

The most common is that the television brings by default several functionalities, aimed at “improving” the video quality; however, for someone looking for fidelity and speed, this will be your biggest enemy.
Although the colors appear spectacular at first glance, they are unlikely to be set with fidelity in mind. You will have to “play” with the various default states, such as “Cinema”, “Game”, and others, although the ideal is some basic mode that you can configure to your liking.
In the same way, there are also many filters and modes added, which supposedly improve performance; although at the moment of truth, they can make it worse. Our recommendation is that, before configuring the TV, you deactivate all these add-ons.

Color depth

Without a doubt, the biggest difference that you will find if you connect a PC to television is in the treatment of color; and not exactly for the better. It is possible that you find a dull image as if colors are “missing”, and it all has to do with the color conversion with which the screen is compatible.
The signal that reaches your television is divided into two components, luminance, and chrominance. When they come together, they form the colors of each pixel, and these, in turn, the image; however, this implies the need for a large bandwidth to send all that information.
The trick is to encode the chrominance component, reduce the amount of information, and use the luminance component to mask this lack of data. After all, luminance has been shown to have a greater visual impact than color information.
For example, in the diagram, we can see how to obtain different colors starting from the chrominance component (Cr, Cb), applying the luminance component (Y ‘) to them.

How to set the TV color

When a screen has a 4: 4: 4-pixel format, the color information it uses is the same as the original source; instead, many televisions support only 4: 2: 2 or even less color depth. And if we’re using an old HDMI connection, the cable won’t even be able to carry the additional color information. As we see in the table, (taken from AVSForum), with an HDMI 1.4 connection a color depth of 4: 4: 4 is not possible at the highest resolutions and refresh rates, such as 4K at 60 frames per second.
That is why, to ensure compatibility, many graphics card drivers configure the signal to 4: 2: 2 if we use an HDMI cable. This does not happen if we use other connectors such as DisplayPort, but that is because few televisions have that connection.
Even if the color is correct on the PC, it may not be correct on the TV. Manufacturers usually leave a default setting intended to attract attention when watching movies, but no one thinks about the possibility of using the PC.

You will most likely have to calibrate the TV using the built-in menu. You do not need any professional equipment to calibrate, you can do it “by eye”, looking for the point where you feel most comfortable; after all, each person perceives colors differently.

Guides for setting the TV color

You can help yourself with some kind of guide, showing you patterns to trust.
The Lago Test is one of the most complete on the web; It consists of several images, each dedicated to a different aspect of the image. Using these patterns, you have to change the brightness, contrast, color saturation, and sharpness.
If it seems very complicated, the simplest thing you can do is the following (Via Xataka Home).
Lower the brightness to the maximum, and start to turn it up until you see that the bars on the right are flashing, between 17 and 25.
Next, put this video on, turn up the contrast to the maximum, and start to lower it until on the left you see how the bars between 230 and 234 blink.
Finally, change the color saturation to a level that you feel comfortable with, especially considering the amount of time you will spend in front of the screen.

Remember this about color

· If you connect the PC to the TV via HDMI, remember to enter the configuration of your graphics card to change the pixel format to 4: 4: 4
· Do not settle for the image that the television gives you by default. The default picture modes can help, but ideally, change the colors yourself.
· Every person is a world. There is no such thing as a universal perfect setup, you have to do the “dirty work” on your own.

Response time

The response time is the “nemesis” of the players, that china in the shoe that prevents them from enjoying their experience. As long as you have a decent monitor, the response time is not a big problem; but in the television sector, it is the most unfairly ignored data, both by manufacturers and users.
Let’s not confuse the response time, measured in milliseconds, with the refresh time (the number of times the screen is refreshed in one second), measured in hertz.
Response time is the time it takes for an individual pixel to change; so the lower the number, the better. A high response time supposes a phenomenon called “ghosting”, whereby objects and characters leave a trail when they move.
Not only is it visually annoying, but it greatly affects video games; these require a good synchronization between the actions of the player and what happens on screen.

A good gaming monitor has a response time of about 2 MS, although a 5 MS is perfectly acceptable; instead, it is easy to find televisions with response times of even 20 MS if we are not careful.
To reduce the effects of ghosting, many brands include some mode of “gaming”; but normally all this does is try to cover up these effects with image processing. Results vary greatly between makes and models; many cause failures in the image, but if you have no other choice, you lose nothing to try.

It goes without saying that if you play with a console, the response time is also very important.

Remember this about response time

  • If you get dizzy while gaming or notice a blurry image, the response time may not be adequate.
  • Check your TV’s response time before purchasing. It is a fact that manufacturers usually hide if it is not very favorable.
  • Be wary of supposed technologies that reduce response time. They can cause image glitches if you don’t configure them correctly.

How to check if our TV suffers from ghosting

If you want to check if your monitor or television suffers from ghosting, you can try a test, in which moving images are shown at different frames per second.

Using television as a monitor, an alternative to consider

If you take into account all these details, using the PC on television is quite an experience; size is usually the main hook, but if that blinds you it can suffer in other aspects of the experience.

In the end, the key is whether you are going to take advantage of the television you already have or if you are going to buy a new one. If it’s the former, there are some things you can do to improve the experience, as we’ve discussed; but the ideal is to choose the correct model taking into account this type of use.

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