How Do I Convert a Computer Monitor Into a TV?

By Mike Sweeney

Computer monitors require crisp and sharp images because their primary use is to provide a viewing medium for small text and data. This feature is an advantage when converting a monitor to use as a TV -- its clear resolution and image quality work well with the broadcast, cable or Internet streaming that you traditionally view on a TV. Fortunately, enough similarities in technology and port connections exist between your monitor and a typical TV that converting it to a TV is a simple process requiring a satellite, cable or TV tuner and some connecting cables.

Monitor Image Technology

Liquid-crystal display is the most common monitor image technology. Today, most current monitors and TVs use an improved version of LCD called light-emitting diodes. LED monitors produce brighter images and bolder colors, and because of the improved lighting technology, the monitors are thinner, lighter and generate less heat than similar LCD monitors. LED TVs are also now more commonplace, so the image you view on your converted monitor is similar to a LED TV. If your monitor is an older version of LCD using fluorescent tubes, your image resolution will still be sharp, but the brightness and color will be less bold than on a comparable LED monitor.

Monitor Screen Size

On average, viewing distance is one to three feet for a computer monitor, and six to twelve feet for a TV, depending on screen size and room layout. Converting your monitor to a TV means you will be viewing a smaller-screen TV, maybe in the 21-to 27-inch range. That size works well on your desk in a home office, in a bedroom or perhaps in a smaller play area for kids. Image quality will still be sharp whether the screen is displaying small text and fonts or the latest TV shows or movies.

Satellite or Cable Receiver

TVs have a built-in digital tuner that needs to be replicated for the computer monitor to act as a TV. You can accomplish this by connecting the monitor to a satellite or cable receiver box. These boxes act as a tuner by receiving, decoding and converting the video and audio signal into a format that your monitor can process. Depending on the receiver and the available ports on your monitor, you can use HDMI, S-video, composite video or RF coaxial cable -- in that order. If your monitor does not have built-in speakers, the audio is sent through the audio ports to connected external speakers. A remote control is included with your satellite or cable receiver and will work with your converted monitor. Check with your local satellite or cable provider for questions about connecting your monitor to an existing satellite or cable receiver box.

External TV Tuner

If you do not have a satellite or cable receiver box, you will need an external TV tuner to change channels. Most external TV tuner packages include a remote control, a user guide and the cables needed to connect the box. Some tuner boxes also have additional port connections for audio, a game console, and a DVD or Blu-ray player. The types of port connections from the TV tuner to the video output from your satellite, cable, or antenna are also HDMI, S-video, composite video or RF coaxial cable. Use the best possible port connections that your monitor, TV tuner and video source have available. Check your user guide for any additional assistance.