How to Use a Flat Screen Computer Monitor as a Television

By Shanika Chapman

With the right equipment, you can use your flat screen computer monitor as a television. Computer monitors typically lack the hardware needed (the tuner) to receive and interpret television signals. Once you have the right equipment for the project, though, using a computer monitor as a space-saving flat panel television is quite easy. Be sure that you read through all steps and have all of the proper equipment before getting started.

Things You'll Need

  • Monitor
  • Tuner Device Compatible with Composite Cables
  • Composite Cables (also known as RCA cables)
  • VGA Extension Cable (if needed)
  • Composite-to-VGA converter
  • External speakers (unless your monitor has built-in speakers)

Step 1

Select your tuner device. They are found in many devices, such as VCRs, cable boxes, DVRs and more. If you can change the channel on a device, then it has a built-in tuner. Select a device to use as the tuner for your monitor.

Step 2

Verify that you have a set of composite cables, a VGA extension cable if your monitor doesn't have a VGA cable built in and a tuner device with a composite cable output. While your monitor may have multiple types of inputs (such as VGA, HDMI, DMI or Composite), all monitors have a VGA input, so these directions will assume you're using the VGA input. The most common output in VCRs, cable boxes and DVRs is composite cables.

Step 3

Purchase a composite-to-VGA cable converter to interface your tuner device and your monitor, such as this one at (see Resources). These converters are easy to setup, and they will produce the necessary output to use your monitor as a television.

Step 4

Plug one end of the composite cables into your selected tuner, and connect the other end to the converter. Next, take your VGA cable and connect it to the converter, and if it isn't permanently connected to the monitor, connect it there as well.

Step 5

Turn it on. Assuming everything is working and connected properly, at this point you should be able to turn everything on, and using the remote for the tuner device, you should be able to start channel surfing on your new "television."

Step 6

Connect external speakers to your tuner device. These can be a simple two-speaker setup or a surround sound system. Unless the monitor used has built-in speakers, you will have no sound for your setup without providing your own speakers (for detail on connecting speakers, check the device's manual).

Tips & Warnings

  • If the system doesn't work once everything is set up, verify that everything has power, that all connections are solid, and that the tuner device is in the proper mode. Also, check the monitor for input options in the on-screen display setting menu (see your monitor's manual for more on this), as it may be set to receive data from a different input source.