Can I use an HDTV as a high DPI monitor?

While computer monitors have higher dots per inch (DPI) ratings than televisions, a high definition television (HDTV) can be quite impressive for applications such as gaming, movie editing, and other graphics and multimedia applications. Unlike standard TV, HDTV is capable of finer resolutions that can better display computer output. A standard TV can also be used as a monitor, but the resolution will be very poor compared to a real computer monitor.

An HDMI® cable.

Driving an HDTV requires a decent graphics card with resolutions that support the HDTV you are interested in. These cards will feature a video output port such as DVI-out (Digital Video Interface), UDI-out (Unified Digital Interface), DisplayPort or HDMI-out (High Definition Multimedia Interface). HDTVs use HDMI interfaces, making the HDMI to HDMI connection the best. UDI, DisplayPort and HDMI carry digital audio and video signals, eliminating the need for separate RCA audio cables.

Many high definition televisions can be used as monitors.

Traditional video cards don’t carry sound, but video cards with built-in HDMI work a little differently. Some, for example, use SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) to pipe audio from the motherboard directly to the graphics card for output via the HDMI interface. This keeps all the digital signals, taking full advantage of the HDMI capability.

If your graphics card doesn’t have built-in UDI, DisplayPort or HDMI and instead has pure DVI output, you’ll need a DVI to HDMI cable. You will also need to install separate audio cables from the computer to the HDTV, as the DVI standard does not carry audio signals.

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Analog video output options such as composite, S-Video and component video can also feed an HDTV monitor, but you will be feeding a lower quality stream using non-digital technologies. It may also be necessary to route analog video connections through a VCR or receiver if the HDTV does not have analog inputs. The ideal, however, is to go straight from the computer to the monitor itself. This avoids potential signal noise introduced by intermediate components.

If the HDTV runs as a secondary monitor, in addition to the cabling, you will need to configure the graphics card to enable multi-monitor functionality. On Windows operating systems, you can access video applications by opening the Windows Control Panel and looking for the relevant video interface. Often, a quick launch icon for display settings can also be found in the system tray.

Many people who use an HDTV monitor claim that its size is far less important than how far you will be sitting from it. If this is your primary monitor, bigger is not necessarily better. Smaller screens also have the advantage of being sharper than larger screens, all else being equal. So if the HDTV is on a desktop right in front of you, you can save money by buying a moderately sized monitor. If you’re sitting at a distance of 10 feet or more, your wallet can probably gauge the size.

A high definition television can be effective for applications such as gaming, movie editing, and other programs that involve graphics and multimedia processing.

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