Computer monitors and televisions are similar. They almost always have the same features and specifications on how to drive the different panels. Usually, you can use your television along with your computer. But, since televisions are made for watching shows and movies only and not the same as how monitors work, using TV as your computer monitor is not recommended. Here are the reasons why you can’t use your TV as a monitor.


Televisions are larger

One of the obvious differences why you can’t use your TV as a monitor is its size. Generally, TVs are at least  40″, much larger than a computer monitor, which is only around 24″ to 27″. The reason why TVs are bigger is that it needs to be seen from across the room. It should occupy the same amount of what your vision can reach.

You may think that this is not an issue since most people prefer large monitors for a better computer experience. But actually, it is a dealbreaker because it will greatly affect the resolution. For instance, if you are using a 40-inch TV as your monitor but only supports 1080-pixels, the display will look normal when you’re across the room. But, the display will look blurry when you’re near it.

If you really want to use a TV as your computer, you have to get a 4K or HDR panel so the resolution won’t get blurry.

Pro Tip: Today’s monitors are using a high dynamic range display (HDR). This type of feature can be usually seen on 4K UHD monitors but, you can also use it with other resolutions. HDR will allow the monitor’s display to have a wider range of colors. It will make all the colors vivid on the screen, which is very stunning to look at.

Compared to 4K, HDR is a way better feature in many ways. For instance, if you’re looking for a 1080p monitor and you came across a monitor with an HDR feature, it’s worth it to consider the HDR feature instead of the 1080 p monitor because it’s a premium feature. However, a premium feature can be a little expensive, so you should still review your options.

It’s not recommended to use a computer monitor as your TV as well because it’s smaller. You can still use it if you want but most medium or large-sized TVs with 1080p resolution almost cost the same as small computer monitors.


Monitors are for interactivity

The content you’re seeing at televisions is pre-recorded, but what you’re seeing in monitors are different – you have to constantly interact with your desktop. TVs are focused on giving a better picture quality for shows and movies, even at the cost of input lag and processing time.

TVs and monitors are built accordingly, that is why it’s important to know the basics of how each device works so you can understand why this reason matters. With both computer monitors and TVs, monitors or cable box send images to the display multiple times per second. The electronics of the display will then process those images, which will delay it from appearing for a couple of seconds. This is called the input lag of the panel.

Once images are processed, it will be delivered to the actual LCD panel. Since the pixels don’t instantly make a transition, the images will be rendered for quite some time in the panel itself. You will see that your TV will fade slowly from one image to another if you slowed it down. This is called the response time of the panel, which is confused as the panel’s input lag.

Since all the content on TVs is pre-recorded and no input is provided, input lag doesn’t really matter. And, since you’re always consuming 30 FPS or 24 FPs content only, response time doesn’t really matter to TVs as well. That is why TVs are affordable because most of their manufacturers don’t put input lag and response time features.

But, you might notice response time and input lag when you’re using it on a desktop, especially if you’re playing a game. Since you are spending more time per frame in the in-between state, a TV with high response time might leave ghosting artifacts and feel blurry when a 60-FPS game is displayed from a desktop.

Pro Tip: It’s better if your response time is low because it just simply means that the pixels on your monitor will be able to change fast enough to get to the next frame. You can end up with visual artifacts on the screen if the pixels on your monitor are not moving to the next frame fast enough (ghosting). Objects on your screen will look like doubled or blurry when this happens. Other than that, you might also see that background objects have halos around them.

These ghosting artifacts will appear as cursor trails of Windows, but this will affect everything you move on the desktop. You will also feel a delay between moving the mouse and seeing how it moves on the screen because of a high input lag. Response time and input lag will have an impact on you’re using your desktop, even if you’re not playing PC games.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for gaming monitors, display lag or controller input lag will make your gaming monitor look bad. That is why when you take a look at gaming computer specifications and features online or at the store, you won’t find these numbers. Other than that, input lag doesn’t just state the capabilities of your monitor. It can also be affected by the settings of your in-game graphics or by your system.

Look at reviews by simply typing “input lag (name of your prospective monitor) to find out if it has a serious display or input lag issue. If you’re playing a competitive game like CS:Go or Call of Duty, you should reduce input lags so your gaming experience will become smooth.

However, input lag and response time aren’t clear cut differences between a TV and a computer monitor. Not all monitors are better and not all TVs have issues with fast-moving content, especially today. Most smart TVs are compatible with console gaming already. All you have to do is turn the “game mode” on in it to get the best gaming experience.

 This mode will turn all the processes off and will accelerate the response time of the panel to perform the same as how most monitors work. So, everything will still depend on what you’re going to purchase. However, these two features aren’t always mentioned on monitor’s specs so you have to make in-depth research.


They have different connections

Assuming that TVs and monitors are manufactured in the last decade, they both accept HDMI input. HDMI can be found on most devices that outputs video from game consoles and Rokus to computers because it’s the industry standard for video signals. So, either a monitor or TV can be used as a screen if you’re just looking for one to plug something into.

Usually, monitors contain other connections, including DisplayPort, so it can support higher refresh rates and resolutions. TVs, on the other hand, often include two or more HDMI inputs so you can plug multiple devices into one screen, while monitors are only intended to use only one device at a time.

Pro Tip: The most common and standard refresh rate of monitors today is 60 Hz. However, if you want a smoother gaming experience, go for monitors with a refresh rate of either 120 Hz or 144 Hz. But, these monitors are more expensive than a monitor with a 60 Hz refresh rate. Assuming that your graphics card is up to the task, the game rendered on the screen will be smoother if your monitor’s refresh rate is higher.

Usually, game consoles and other devices send audio via HDMI, but monitors don’t have speakers. That is why you should have a desktop speaker or headphones when using your computer. On the other hand, almost all TVs have built-in speakers, so you don’t have to worry about plugging in speakers or headphones while playing. This is also why TVs are a great centerpiece of living rooms.


Televisions are for tuning into TV

In order to tune into an over-the-air basic cable with coaxial cable or TV with an antenna, most TVs have built-in digital tuners. This is what decodes the signal transferred over the cable or air. Actually, in the United States, you can’t legally market a device as television if it doesn’t have a digital tuner.

You will most likely have a set-top box that also works as a tuner if you’re subscribed to a cable subscription, so some TV manufacturers can save money by not putting a digital tuner. If the device won’t have a tuner, it will be called and marketed as Big Format Display or Home Theater Display and not a TV. When you plug it into the cable box, it will definitely work. However, you will not be able to receive a cable if you don’t have a cable box.

Monitors, on the other hand, don’t have built-in digital tuners. But, if you have a set-top or cable box with an HDMI input, you can plug it on the monitor and watch cable TV. However, you still need to plug in a speaker on the monitor because it doesn’t have one.


Final Thoughts

Technically, you can connect your TV on a computer. You can use it without any compatibility issues, especially if it has the right ports and still new. But, your mileage may vary widely depending on the manufacturer and on the actual experience.

If you’re planning to use your monitor as a TV, you should have a cable box first so you can tune into the TV. If you don’t mind the lack of speakers and its generally smaller size, it’s perfectly fine to plug your Roku device or Apple TV on the monitor to watch Netflix.