In the past, TV’s and computer monitors were quite different. Traditionally TV’s were built to handle an analog signals, from things like antennas and coaxial inputs, whereas computers relied on their trusty VGA ports. Today however TV’s receive their video through the same HDMI ports used on computer monitors. With the popularity and relatively lower cost of a 4K TV compared to a 4K computer monitor, many have asked, Why can’t you simply use your 4K TV as a computer monitor?
Before the advent of 4K, Computer monitors traditionally had a higher resolution and a faster sync rate than televisions, making their pictures clean and crisp — and more importantly, easier to use. Comparatively, most SD or HD televisions would struggle to display text clear enough to read, and there would be significant lag to the cursor. With Ultra HD 4K resolution quickly becoming the norm in TV’s, people have again stared exploring the possibility of using a 4K TV as a computer monitor.
The Pros of Using a 4K TV as a Computer Monitor
A 4K television is going to cost much less than a computer monitor of the same size. For those who are visual fields or those who enjoy gaming as entertainment, monitors are becoming much larger. It can be more cost-effective to purchase a small television than a large monitor.
You can easily switch a television to different consoles, cable boxes, and streaming boxes when you’re finished using it as a computer. That means that you can have a single setup for all of your gaming, entertainment, and media, hooked directly into your living room or entertainment room. For those who have limited space, this can be a huge space saving technique.
With a monitor, you generally have to purchase the speakers separately. A 4K TV will have speakers built in, and while they may not provide an amazing surround sound experience, they will be good enough for most computer uses.
A 4K television will come with many more ports than a monitor, including additional HDMI ports for game consoles and other devices that a computer monitor wouldn’t have. This gives you the flexibility to create a complete entertainment system where you simply need to switch inputs to use a new device.
The Cons of Using a 4K TV as a Computer Monitor
Even a 4K television will have lower DPI (dots per inch) than a computer monitor. Functionally, this means that those in graphic design fields are not going to have as clear an image to work with. Those who work a lot with text may find the text blurry and indistinct, especially if the text is particularly small. The newest TVs, especially OLED TVs may have unique pixel systems that are designed to display deep colours, not fine text.
Depending on the refresh rate of the monitor, there may be a noticeable input lag when it comes to moving a cursor or performing actions on the screen. This input lag can be enough to impact things such as games, but this may also be based on the particular model of television rather than all 4K TVs. Choosing a 4K TV with a faster refresh rate and low input lag will help negate this problem.
If you don’t have a lot of real estate on your desk to begin with, using a 4K TV may be difficult. You may even find that the television is too close to actually be easy to use — or you may find yourself having to setup your room so that your television/monitor is farther away.
4K TVs are heavier and thicker than computer monitors; this is one reason that they are less expensive. For some setups this can make them more challenging to move, as they may not be able to fit on a small desk and may instead need to be mounted.
Getting the Right 4K TV for a Computer Monitor
Not all 4K TVs are made to similar specifications. Many of the issues that are encountered when using a 4K TV as a computer monitor are only issues with mid-to-low range televisions. A higher quality 4K TV can be lightweight and high resolution, with minimal lag and many additional, advanced features that can make the transition worthwhile. Consequently, if you’re considering replacing a computer monitor with a 4K TV, you generally want the highest quality television available. Here are a few televisions that meet these specifications:
Samsung Frame TV
If you’re looking for a great option to use with your computer, the Samsung Frame TV is a great choice. The 2022 Frame features a matte display so you won’t have reflections while you are trying to work. Samsung also has an easy PC on TV feature to wirelessly cast from your PC to the screen with little input lag. The Frame also has an optional auto rotate stand so you can rotate your screen into portrait mode for viewing documents. Also new in the 2022 model frame is an updated picture in picture mode, where you can combine multiple HDMI devices on the screen at the same time. In theory, you could get a 65″ Frame TV and connect two computers to it at the same time! The Samsung Frame TV is available in 43″, 50″, 55″, 65″, and 75″ models.
Sony X80J 4K Smart TV
The Sony X80J Series is a great affordable choice for a TV to use as a computer monitor. It’s available in 43″ and 55″ sizes. The smaller size options actually work to your benefit when using it as a computer monitor, as increasing the density of pixels leads to sharper text. The refresh rate tops out at 60Hz, and it doesn’t have HDMI 2.1 support, so this panel isn’t ideal for gaming. Overall though, a great choice to do some general typing, powerpoint presentations, and stream Netflix during a well earned break.
Samsung Q80B QLED 4K Smart TV
The Q80B Series from Samsung is a great choice for use as a computer monitor. It uses an LED array to ensure accuracy across the screen, and has a refresh rate of 120Hz at 4K across all HDMI inputs so it’s great for gaming and connecting other devices. This model includes native support for Google Duo or Microsoft Teams, so you can video chat directly on the TV. It also includes multiple voice assistants to help you schedule and get through your day. The Q80B series is available in 50″, 55″, 65″, 75″ and 85″.
Whether using a 4K TV for a computer monitor works depends largely on the functionality that you need from your computer. With most of us using laptops, the 4K TV is mostly used as a second monitor, and it can be great for displaying graphs, powerpoint presentations, video calls, and more. For the most part, those who can get away with using a 4K TV as a computer monitor will often find it convenient and cost-effective, and as the technology advances it’s likely that the line between television and computer monitor will become increasingly blurred. Have any questions about using a 4K TV as a computer monitor? Ask away in the comments below!