I am confident that you know by now that I am all about buying, using, re-using, adjusting, calibrating; oh God! “Electronics“. Having said that, this topic and the article I am about to write on is no different.
Who doesn’t have a TV or is remotely not aware of what TV’s are? Well, if you really don’t know what TV’s are, then I suggest you head back to your grandma and ask her what that is! *banter intended*.
TV’s are great, but what if I tell you that you could use the computer monitor that you have hooked up to your laptop or your desktop machine, as a standard Television. Would you be happy with this kind of a scientific; technological; new invention kind of an approach? Well, then read on.
Fasten your seatbelts, grab your self-proclaimed engineering gear on; as I would covering in great detail in this topic, what exactly can you do to convert your computer monitor into a fully-functional television set. Yes, you would also be able to stream movies and stuff! Yay.
So, there are two aspects to this article. Namely:
- If you are in the process of buying a monitor to be used as a TV later on
- If you already own a monitor and want to convert it into a TV
In the first scenario, where you are still evaluating which monitor to buy, which can also act as a TV later on. I would strongly recommend keeping the following in mind:
- Make sure it supports HDMI connectivity
- Make sure the monitor has an Audio-Out Jack / or at least has integrated speakers
- Make sure the monitor is HDCP compliant
If you want to find out if your current monitor is HDCP compliant or not, then head over to this article by Techwalla where they cover precisely how you can do it at home!
Table of Contents
What Is the Difference Between A Computer Monitor and A Tv Screen?
Potato, PotAto! Well, if I spelt that right; then you must have gotten the gist of it by now. There is not much difference between the two. Both a computer monitor and a TV screen are supposed to display images and videos to you. And yes, if you are a tech-geek; then both are “OUTPUT DEVICES“.
Generally, the difference between a monitor and a TV screen is narrowing day by day. Still, you would want to keep the below chart in mind before hopping onto buying your new monitor or your TV and if you plan on using either one for projecting movies or hooking it up to your computer.
|Generally available in smaller sizes
|Available in both small and large sizes
|Aspect Ratios can be broader or narrower
|Typically offers a standard 16:9 aspect ratio
|Capable of displaying high-resolution images
|Usually comes with a high-resolution screen
|Supports most popular connectivity ports (except the coaxial cable connection)
|Supports a wide variety of connections including (HDMI, VGA, USB, Coaxial)
|Can support multiple display modes (With the limitation of the number of input connections)
|Capable of switching between a plethora of input devices
|Limitation of Audio Output jacks or Built-in speakers
|All the TV’s are equipped with a built-in speaker
As you can see from the chart above, both the TV and the computer monitor have a lot of similarities but at the same time; have critical differences in terms of usability and features. If I were to decide which of the above should I go for, then it all narrows down to my budget.
Cheapest of the TV’s can come at a price-tag of $100 and can soar up to a price-tag of $40,000 as well. It Whilst at the same time, a monitor that can offer equivalently crisp images and resolution can be bagged for a few thousand dollars as compared to a $40,000 tele. The key difference at this stage would be the number of inputs and outputs you would want. If your aim is to connect multiple devices and have the ease of displaying them on one unit, then go with a television. If that’s not your aim, then go for a monitor. Coz hey! The purpose of this article is to guide you how we can convert a monitor into a television. Stay focused people! *wink
So now, the million-dollar question!
Can You Convert A Computer Monitor into A Television?
The answer is “YES“. All the modern computer monitors come equipped with an HDMI port. Therefore, if your set-top box has an HDMI port; then it’s just a matter of plugging both ends of the HDMI cable into the ports and voila; you now can watch your set-top box channels on your very own computer monitor.
But what if there is no HDMI port present on the monitor?
Well, if you had purchased your monitor in this decade; then chances are that it would be equipped with an HDMI port. But if it doesn’t have an HDMI port on it, then your best bet is to connect the monitor using the VGA port and pray that your set-top box has a VGA port on it.
What if your set-top box doesn’t have a VGA port, but your monitor does? Then fret not, head over to this VGA to HDMI converter adapter from Amazon, and you are golden! With the help of this adapter, you can easily connect your VGA monitor cable into its input, and the output can then be connected to the set-top box you intend to hook up to your television.
Now since that’s out of the way! How do you currently plan on hearing the audio streamed from your set-top box to your computer monitor? Well, if your monitor doesn’t have a built-in speaker; then you are in a for a mess. Coz now you are required to buy this HDMI audio extractor from Amazon that would allow you to connect your external speakers directly into this device and then you may enjoy seamless audio and video; just as if you were watching a TV.
Don’t get confused on this extractor thingie! Trust me; it’s way easier than it sounds. The video below shows a practical example of how this is achieved.
User manual to the J-Tech HDMI Audio Extractor is available here.
How to Stream Movies on a Computer Monitor?
Well, if your monitor was bought in this decade; then chances are it already has an HDMI port. If that’s the case, all you need to do is just buy the Google Chromecast from Amazon. You can buy the Amazon FireStrick 4k which would connect directly on the HDMI port present on your monitor and voila. Stream away!
The Amazon FireStick 4k is capable to stream movies from a boatload of different streaming services, such as:
- Amazon Prime
And the beauty is, that if your monitor supports 4k resolution; the Amazon FireStick would pump out 4k images (Depending on the broadcasting service) and you can then just sit back and relax while enjoying your favourite viewing movie or stream.
If you are into streaming your favourite TV channels, then I would recommend swapping the Amazon FireStick with a Google Chromecast ULTRA. Since with the recent addition of services like Sling TV and Direct TV, the Chromecast now allows you to stream cable stations like
- Animal Planet
Directly to your Chromecast. There is a subscription to it, though. Approximately at $20 or more a month. Depending on which service package you choose and the tier your select.
NINJA TIP: Do bear in mind, the Chromecast users who have tried broadcasting in this way had reported issues of video display as either being laggy on their monitors. Or not functional at all! This is because Chromecast doesn’t support resolutions lower than 720p.– Smartnutter.com readers review.
Now, what if your monitor has an HDMI port but no Audio Output or built-in speakers. Hey, we at smartnutter.com ensure that our readers get the best DIY Smart home tips right at their screens. So, read on!
You have two options here.
Invest in an audio-extractor. Like the one, I have mentioned above. Here is the link.
Is a pretty cumbersome one though. You would need to screencast whatever you intend on watching, via your smartphone to your Firestick or the Chromecast. While that is happening, you would then need to connect an external speaker to your smartphone.
This option is not a recommended one, since there is bound to be a lag between the audio and the video being displayed due to the multiple channels through which the screencast is happening.
My best recommendation is to invest in an HDMI audio extractor (as mentioned in option A).
What if your monitor only has a DVI input?
In such scenarios, you would need to invest in an HDMI to DVI converter with an Audio Out port. Such a device is available at Amazon. If you click on the given link, you would be redirected to the product page.
How to Watch Local Tv Channels on My Computer Monitor?
This is absolutely possible! If your aim is to watch your local TV channels on your computer monitor, then you would need to do the following.
- Subscribe to your local cable or TV channel subscription
- Use a conventional antenna and a TV tuner box
In option A, you can connect almost all the satellite or cable boxes that are provided by your TV streaming service provider and hook them up to your computer monitor via an HDMI cable. If your monitor doesn’t have an HDMI cable, then resort to the HDMI VGA adapter I have mentioned in my article above. The only concern here would be the “AUDIO”. Hence, I would recommend to either connect external speakers to your cable box or use the HDMI VGA Adapter with an audio port such as this one and enjoy!
If you want to resort to option B, then you sir are in a for a wee-bit of DIY installation. This setup requires you to install those traditional ANTENNAS on your roof-top. Jokes! In the modern world of technology, there are sleek looking indoor antennas that you can use to broadcast local TV channels for free. One that I use is found is manufactured by Gesobyte and can be bought from Amazon with this link.
This particular model comes with a 200 miles range and should be more than sufficient for city dwellers.
Now since buying and installing an indoor antenna is out of the way. Let us now focus on getting those free channels broadcasted to your computer monitor. For this, you would need to buy a TV Tuner box. I would recommend the one I use by Mediasonic from Amazon. This box acts as a bridge between your monitor and the antenna you have just installed.
For my UK readers, head over to FreeView checker and just punch in your post-code to find out what channels are available via satellite in your particular area. For my US readers, please head over to AntennaWeb to get an idea of what channels you should be able to access based on your location.
Make sure you look at what kind of input ports are available in your monitor on which you plan on hooking up this TV tuner box. Since most of the new TV tuner boxes, along with the one I have recommended above; comes with an HDMI port. So, chances are if your monitor doesn’t support HDM input; then you would be required to invest into an HDMI adapter depending on which port is available in your monitor.
A couple of important points that need to be kept into mind before hopping onto Amazon and buying the indoor antennas is that there are not one but a couple of factors which can/might offer a bad quality of reception via these antennas.
- There is no clear line of sight between the broadcasting towers and your antenna.
Solution: Try changing the placement of where you have installed the antenna at your home.
- Loss of signals in the coaxial cable distribution.
Solution: Check to see if there are any loose cable fittings between your antenna and the set-top box. There could also be a possibility that the cable has been compromised.
- The coaxial cable running between the antenna and the tuner is too long
Solution: When the cable lengths reach over 100 feet, you can expect a signal loss of as much as 1/3.
- Faulty Digital Tuner
Solution: It doesn’t happen too often, but if you have tried all the above and ensured that you have followed the user manual that came with your antenna to set it up; there might be a chance then that your tuner box is faulty. Just get in touch with the supplier from where you have bought it and ask for a replacement/refund.
Can You Use A Computer Monitor as A Tv With Roku?
It is entirely possible to stream with Roku on your computer monitor. Roku supports endless entertainment and offers almost 150,000+ movies and TV series across thousands of free and paid channels.
The same is applicable to connect a Roku device to your monitor as what has been discussed above. I would suggest going through the above article to see what interfaces are present on your monitor to enable connectivity between your Roku and your monitor.
If you are keen to find out what is being broadcasted on Roku right now, then they offer a convenient search your favourite channel tool that would allow you to do just that!
How To Convert Monitor Into Smart Tv?
The possibilities or the explanations of what each individual calls a TV “smart” are LIMITLESS. But the basic functionality of a smart TV is to offer you more control as compared to a conventional “DUMB TV”. To achieve those, you can very quickly convert your computer monitor into a smart TV by hooking it up with
- Chromecast Ultra
- Amazon Fire Cube
- Amazon Fire Stick
How to Connect Set Top Box to Monitor Without Tv Tuner?
All the modern set-top boxes are equipped with an HDMI port. All you need to do is to connect the HDMI cable in between your monitor and the set-top TV, and voila!
I am confident after going through this article, you must have been convinced that with a tad bit of DIY (do-it-yourself); you can certainly convert your dumb monitor into a TV.
Although it requires you to buy a few extra accessories here and there, overall learning how to convert your monitor in a TV is not a challenging thing to do!
If you are still in the process of deciding whether to go for a monitor or television for your home. Then it would be wise enough to invest in a 4K / 8K resolution computer monitor with built-in speakers and a TV tuner card, that would allow you to stream both the TV and your computer programs via laptop or a desktop computer.
Hope you have enjoyed this article and I am looking forward to any comments, queries, questions you may have on it!
Stay safe! Stay smart.