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.
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 will 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:
The LG OLED 4k HDR Smart TV line is a smart television system with some impressive technical specifications. Tru Color Accuracy and Active HDR with Dolby Vision ensure that the picture will be clear and that lag will be minimal, making it one of the best 4K TV’s for PC Gaming, and a good solution for graphic designers, video editors, and others that need to work with a process visual media. Smart television features add tools such as streaming and web browsing bulit in, and the “blade slim design” keeps it from taking up too much space.
Sony’s line up of 4K HDR OLED televisions are premium televisions designed to provide the best in picture quality and clarity. These televisions will not have significant motion lag and can display text cleanly. With sizes that go beyond 70″, the Sony 4K HDR OLED can be used to create an all-in-one entertainment system that can still be connected directly to a computer. This line includes Acoustic Surface Technology (for better audio), HDR X1 Extreme Processor, TRILUMINOS Display, and Motionflow XR.
Though Samsung’s UND Smart LED line uses LED rather than OLED technology, it also provides PurColor, UHD Upscaling, and HDR PRO technology with the help of a quad-core processor. All of this technology together provides a high quality image at lower prices than OLED 4K models. Though it may not have the crystal clear picture of an OLED, it’s still a suitable 4K tv for PC gaming and other entertainment.
Another LED-based television, the Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Smart LED comes with its Hexa Chroma Drive, Quad Core Pro processor, web browser, and smart technologies, all of which make it suitable for most PC use. This Panasonic may not be suitable for video or image editing, but would still be suitable for light computer work, reading, and video games.
Whether using a 4K TV for a computer monitor works depends largely on the functionality that you need from your computer. If you’re primarily streaming videos, gaming, and doing other media-heavy pursuits, a 4K TV is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you’re doing a lot of reading, typing, and web browsing, there may be some issues. 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.