Should I Use a Smart TV as a Monitor?

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

What are you watching on TV? A common enough question, but let’s approach it from a different angle and consider what you use your TV for. Viewers today may use TVs to watch actual television shows when they are broadcast such as live sports or the news, or they may use their TV as a screen and connect it to their PC, or video game console. In this article we will discover how TVs evolved and then discuss the suitability of using TV screens and monitors for different applications.

A brief history of the evolution of television

TV has come a long way since it replaced radio as the USA’s most popular mass medium in the 1950s. Jumping forward fifty years, the past few decades have seen some interesting changes in TV too, notably the evolution to digital television (DTV) in the early 2000s. The USA transitioned to digital for full power stations and satellite services in 2009. Digital offers far greater accuracy, efficiency and compatibility with other electronic media than its predecessor, analog.

High-definition television (HDTV) came hot on the heels of the digital TV revolution, giving viewers widescreen, crystal clear, and immersive viewing experiences. Smart TVs followed, growing in popularity in the early 2010s. Internet enabled smart TV sets have done away with the need for cable and satellite connections. Sometimes called connected TVs, smart TVs offer advanced operating systems, and include free and paid streaming apps. Smart TVs are basically a convergence of televisions, computers and digital media players. According to a recent study, around 63% of American homes now have Smart TVs.

We all know what a TV is, but what is a computer monitor? And how is it different from a TV? Computer monitors are designed with your computing and gaming needs in mind, and while they do a similar job to a TV, they offer higher refresh rates and response times, with more pixels, so images are sharper too. More on that later. For gamers, the question of using a TV as a computer monitor immediately springs to mind. Read on to discover the difference between a monitor and TV and how using one or the other may affect your gaming experience.

Can you use a TV as a computer monitor? 

In short, the answer is yes. Any TV with HDMI input can be used as a computer monitor. But there are several pros and cons to consider before using a 4K or even an 8K TV as a monitor for your computer. It essentially comes down to what your requirements are.


First then in our monitor vs TV discussion, let’s consider the financial cost. When they first came on the market, digital TVs were beyond the reach of most consumers. Thanks to huge consumer demand and post-purchase monetization, Smart TVs today are very competitively priced. Smart TV operating platforms collect profit through selling user viewing data and advertising, further driving down their price. Monitors do not. Hence, TVs are far cheaper than monitors, so if budget is a concern and you are not overly concerned about performance, then going with a 4k TV is a wise choice.

Size and style

Have a browse in your local electronics store or website and you will quickly see that 4K TVs come in a plethora of sizes. Screen size is measured from corner to corner, and TVs from 48 inches all the way up to 83 inches are common choices. Monitors on the other hand are mostly within the 19 to 34 inch range, ​​the standard size being 22-24 inches. There are reasons for this difference in availability. The larger the TV screen, the further away the optimal viewing distance is. Think about going to the theater, the screen is massive, so you sit at a comfortable distance. Sit too close and the display may seem pixelated, and you will hurt your neck trying to keep track of the action. The same principle applies to TVs and monitors. If you were to buy an 83 inch TV, connect your laptop and surf the web and do everyday computer tasks, the 4K experience might let you down. Up close, the display might be grainy and you would most likely strain your neck trying to look at all corners of the screen. Monitors are specifically designed to be used on desks at a distance of around an arm’s length away from the user. This distance is optimal for regular computer use, so if your requirements are to hook up your laptop or desktop and get on with whatever it is that you need to do, then a monitor is likely a better choice.

For computer users, monitors have another advantage over TVs in terms of display, that is choice of form. Many monitors today have adjustable height settings as well as the option of flipping them to portrait mode. Customizable aspect ratios are also standard for monitors. For users needing to run several programs simultaneously, ultra-wide and curved monitors offer a huge amount of horizontal operating space that TVs cannot offer.

Quality vs quantity

Gaming on a 4K TV is a good choice for console users: a huge screen is an option, you can sit on the couch and play at a distance. Monitors and TVs both offer 4K Ultra HD resolution, but there are differences in actual picture quality. Monitors cram more pixels into a smaller space than TVs, so images will be sharper. If you’re a serious PC gamer, then monitors will also work to your advantage when it comes to lag time, response time and refresh rates. For gamers, a gaming monitor is your best choice for a smooth gaming experience.

Color accuracy is also a concern if you are gaming or working on your monitor or TV. Monitors in general have superior color accuracy to TVs, so if you are a video editor, or just someone who wants to see vivid, true to life colors, then choose a suitable monitor.  

The takeaway 

Televisions and monitors are both screens through which you can play games, watch media or simply as a display for your computer. TVs are becoming better at being monitors and vice versa. If you are looking for something that covers both of these functions, then the Acer Predator CG48 might be worth a look. This OLED behemoth will surpass your expectations! What you choose should depend on your requirements. If you just need a screen for console gaming use or for streaming, then a TV will suffice. For professionals and gamers alike, a monitor will provide you with a higher quality visual experience.

Edmund is an English copywriter based in New Taipei City, Taiwan. He is a widely published writer and translator with two decades of experience in the field of bridging linguistic and cultural gaps between Chinese and English.


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