You might watch TV shows on your computer monitor or play computer games on your HDTV but that doesn’t make them the same device. TVs have features not included in monitors, and monitors are generally smaller than TVs.
However, they do have a lot in common too. Keep reading to learn more about how computer monitors and TVs are alike and how they’re different.
TV vs Monitor – How Do They Differ?
When buying a new TV most people prioritize the size of the screen. However, screen resolution and panel type, among other things, play a bigger role when it comes to the image quality.
Since more and more content is being available in 4K Ultra HD resolution, if you are buying a brand new TV nowadays, it should definitely support 4K.
Overall, for the same amount of money, you could either buy a 4K 43″ monitor or a 4K 50″-55″ TV.
Something that ties directly into screen sizes is the display resolution. As you most likely already know, resolution determines how many individual pixels there are on the screen, and the more pixels there are, the sharper and more detailed the image will be.
Today, monitors come with the following resolutions:
- 1080p, or Full HD
- 1440p, or QHD, also commonly referred to as 2K
- 2160p, or UHD, also most commonly known as 4K
They stick to the abovementioned size range since 27 inches is pretty much the biggest a monitor can be without becoming too large for viewing up close.
The situation with TVs, on the other hand, is a bit different. They come in 720p (HD Ready), 1080p (Full HD) and 2160p (4K) variants. Not only is there nothing in between Full HD and 4K, but there is also the size. Full HD TVs start at 32 inches, and any smaller TV will almost definitely be in 720p, a resolution which is outdated by modern gaming standards.
This is due to the fact that TVs are meant to be viewed from afar, not up close as monitors are, so using a TV instead of a monitor is a definite no-go. Furthermore, a bigger screen also means lower pixel density, which will inevitably result in aliasing.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
If you’re buying a high-end 4K TV, it should also support HDR which provides you with a brighter and more vibrant image quality for the compatible content.
While HDR is widely supported for TVs in terms of both hardware and content, HDR monitors are just beginning to surface; what’s more, there’s not a lot of HDR content for PC and Windows’ HDR implementation is very buggy.
Response time, or to be more precise, pixel response time determines how quickly a pixel can change color from black to white or from one shade of gray to another.
What makes it important for gaming is that it allows smooth camera movement, whereas high response times lead to extensive motion blur and, potentially, ghosting.
With modern monitors, you can generally choose between a 1ms TN monitor or a 4ms IPS monitor, the latter being limited to a higher response time due to the technology used. Conversely, TVs stick to IPS panels. They also tend to have higher overall response times since it is not as important for their intended application: multimedia.
All in all, due to being higher than those of monitors, TV response times are almost never revealed by manufacturers in order to avoid consumer bias. Usually, they tend to be over 10ms, but there is no definite way to be sure about how much motion blur you will be dealing with. The safest route is to stick with renowned brands such as Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips etc. And, if you are exceptionally worried about motion blur, be sure to see if you can test the TV in person.
A gaming monitor can have a refresh rate up to 240Hz which provides you with the most responsive and fluid fast-paced gaming. TVs, on the other hand, are usually limited to 60Hz. Some TVs support 120Hz but only at 1080p.
Furthermore, some TVs offer features such as LG TruMotion120 which is supposed to convert 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) content into 120 FPS. However, these are fake frames and will more likely have a bad effect on the image and gameplay experience.
Overall, if you want a high refresh rate TV, make sure it’s ‘true 120Hz’ and not using motion interpolation, also known as the ‘soap opera effect’.
Connectors Or Ports
When it comes to ports, both a modern television and monitor support VGA, HDMI, DVI, and USB.
The HDMI port on a TV or monitor is connected to a device that sends video the screen. This might be a Roku Streaming Stick if using a TV, or a computer or laptop if the HDMI cable is connected to a monitor.
VGA and DVI are two other types of video standards that most monitors and TVs support. If these ports are used with a television, it’s normally to connect a laptop to the screen so that it can be configured to extend or duplicate the screen onto the TV so the entire room can see the screen.
A USB port on a TV is often used to power a device that’s connected to one of the video ports, such as a Chromecast. Some TVs even support showing pictures and videos from a flash drive plugged into the port.
Monitors that have USB ports can utilize it for similar reasons, like to load a flash drive. This is particularly useful if all the USB ports on the computer are used up.
All TVs have a port that supports a coaxial cable so that a cable service can be plugged directly into the TV. They also have a port for an antenna. Monitors don’t have such connections.
To get extremely basic, both TVs and monitors have buttons and a screen. Buttons normally consist of a power button and a menu button, and maybe a brightness toggle. Lots of average sized television screens are the same size as lower end HDTVs.
HDTVs have additional buttons that allow for switching between separate input ports. For example, most TVs let you plug in something over HDMI and something else with AV cables, in which case you can easily switch between the two so that you can use your HDMI Chromecast one moment but then turn over to your AV-connected DVD player without much hesitation.
Televisions and some monitors have speakers built-in to them. This means you don’t have to hook up computer speakers or surround sound just to get some noise from the device.
However, computer monitors with built-in speakers have been known to sound extremely basic compared to computer systems that have dedicated speakers.
When it comes to TVs, the built-in speakers are usually completely fine for most people unless they prefer surround sound or the room is too large to comfortably listen from afar.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately, the biggest problems with gaming on a TV are high response times and, potentially, aliasing.
As mentioned above, a high response time can lead to extensive motion blur during fast camera movements, which may end up making fast-paced games a nauseating experience. However, this won’t be as big of a problem with a high-quality TV, especially if you are not used to super-fast response times anyway.
Aliasing is ever a problem on consoles since they don’t have the required graphics processing power for any anti-aliasing and they’re also commonly connected to large TVs. And, as mentioned before, this means lower pixel density and as such, more aliasing. If you’re connecting a solid gaming PC to a TV, however, this shouldn’t be as much of a problem when viewing the TV from an adequate distance.
So, let’s summarize!
As you can see, there’s a lot of difference between a TV and a monitor and the choice between the two mostly depends on what type of content you’ll be watching and what games you will be playing.
With that said, remember that a TV can never replace a computer monitor, but neither can a monitor replace a TV.
When objectively, monitors are more responsive and provide a cleaner image due to the high pixel density. On the other hand, if the lower response times and aliasing don’t bother you that much, a TV can suit the purpose just as well.