Is it safe to use a TV as a computer monitor?

Using a TV as a computer monitor is a viable option, but there are important factors to consider for eye health. This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons, ideal setup practices, and long term implications of prolonged TV use as a desktop display.

Benefits of using a TV as a monitor

Some advantages of using a television for your computer screen:

  • Large screen real estate – Modern TVs are available in very large sizes up to 85 inches diagonally. This ample display area allows space for multitasking with multiple windows, reducing need for excessive scrolling and window toggling.

  • Cheap big screens –Big screen TVs typically cost much less than similarly sized desktop monitors. For example, a 50 inch 4K TV can be found for under $400 in many cases, while an ultra-wide 49 inch monitor would cost over $1000.

  • Built-in speakers – Most modern TVs have good quality built-in stereo speaker systems. This reduces cable clutter and eliminates the need for external computer speakers.

  • High resolution – 4K resolution TVs now match or exceed the pixel density of average desktop displays. This allows for clear rendering of fine text and details, especially in larger screen sizes.

  • Gaming capabilities – While not ideal for competitive esports, modern TVs work well for casual big-screen PC gaming. Features like 4K resolution, HDR, and 120Hz refresh rates provide an immersive experience.

Drawbacks of using a TV as a monitor

Some disadvantages to using a TV with your computer:

  • Pixel density – Even most 4K consumer TVs don’t quite match the pixel density (PPI) of desktop monitors. For example, a 32 inch 4K monitor provides 140 PPI versus only 70 PPI on a 32 inch 4K TV. This density difference can make text clarity suffer, especially noticeable in productivity tasks.

  • Refresh rates – Gaming monitors now achieve refresh rates of 144Hz, 240Hz or higher. Most TVs still max out at 60Hz, with only high-end models reaching 120Hz. The lower refresh ceiling results in more motion blur.

  • Response times – The best gaming monitors now offer response times of 1ms (GTG) or lower. TV response times range from 8ms to 20ms typically. This slower pixel transition speed causes smearing in fast motion.

  • Input lag – Video processing and scaling in TVs causes noticeably higher input lag compared to monitors. This lag is detrimental for competitive multiplayer gaming requiring quick reflexes.

  • Viewing angles – Most TVs utilize VA panel technology with relatively poor viewing angles compared to IPS monitors. Color, contrast and brightness shift significantly when viewing the screen off-center.

  • Eye fatigue concerns – Staring at a larger TV as a PC display could potentially cause more eyestrain than viewing a smaller monitor, especially if sitting very close over extended periods.

Ideal TV sizes for use as a computer monitor

When selecting a TV for use as a desktop monitor, size is an important consideration for both ergonomics and pixel density.

  • 24" to 32" – For normal desk viewing distances, this range is ideal for balancing screen space with text/content size. Allows fine details and UI elements to remain easily visible.

  • 40" to 43" – Provides ample real estate for immersive gaming and multimedia usage. Ensures individual pixels remain discernible for productivity tasks.

  • 49" to 50" – Maximum recommended size for desktop use. Starts to require sitting extremely close for fine detail visibility, or excessive head/eye movement.

General rule of thumb is to sit at a distance equal to 1.5 to 2.5 times the screen height. This prevents excessive neck craning and frequent eye movement to see different screen areas.

Adjusting TV picture settings for monitor use

For best results using a TV as a monitor, adjust these key picture settings:

  • Set picture mode to Game Mode or PC mode – Reduces input lag by disabling unnecessary video processing.

  • Disable motion interpolation (Motionflow, TruMotion, etc) – Eliminates input lag and motion artifacts.

  • Turn off noise reduction features like DNR – Again reduces input lag caused by video processing.

  • Reduce sharpness significantly – Prevents oversharpening of text and UI elements. Let GPU handle sharpening.

  • Lower brightness to around 120 cd/m2 – Matches monitor brightness standards and prevents eye fatigue.

  • Cool color temperature ~6500K – Gives a neutral white point aligned with ambient lighting.

  • Enable limited RGB range – Matches the 16-235 output range of computers.

  • Match display resolution to native computer resolution – Avoids unclear upscaling.

Connecting a computer to a TV display

To utilize your TV screen as a computer monitor, connect it using:

  • HDMI – Digital video and audio over a single cable. Use HDMI 2.0 or 2.1 for 4K 60Hz or high refresh rates.

  • DisplayPort – Alternate digital video connection method that also supports high resolutions and framerates. Requires USB audio.

  • DVI to HDMI cable – For older laptops and PCs lacking HDMI-out. Note that audio cannot be transmitted through DVI.

  • VGA with audio cable – Analog video works up to 1920 x 1080 resolution. Separate audio cable required.

Remember to set the correct TV input and disable computer display mirroring. Match the TV resolution in Windows display settings to prevent unclear upscaling.

How TVs and monitors compare spec-wise

TV Monitor
Resolution Up to 4K/UHD. 8K options emerging. 4K common. 5K+ found on high end.
Aspect Ratio Typically 16:9 16:9 or 21:9 ultrawide
Refresh Rate 60Hz to 120Hz is common 60Hz to 240Hz+
Response Time 8ms to 20ms 1ms to 5ms
Inputs HDMI, optical audio HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA
Pixel Density 70 PPI (4K 32") 110 PPI (4K 27")
Gaming Suitability Moderate Ideal
Text Clarity Moderate Ideal

Is a TV viable for gaming as a monitor?

For casual, big-screen PC gaming, a TV works reasonably well thanks to features like 4K resolution, HDR support, and refresh rates up to 120Hz. However, for fast-paced competitive esports gaming, a monitor is still ideal. The lower response time and input lag of gaming monitors gives a real performance advantage. Their higher refresh rates also provide a much smoother, tear-free experience. So while TVs can provide an immersive gaming display, serious players will want to stick with a dedicated gaming monitor.

TV usage and myopia risk in children

Excessive close screen usage has been linked to increased incidence of nearsightedness (myopia) in children and adolescents. Researchers believe this is related to lack of distance focus variation. Sustained TV viewing as a monitor could plausibly contribute to myopia progression in young users since their eyes stay constrained to a close fixed focal distance. Frequent screen breaks and distance focusing are important for healthy visual development.

Blue light concerns with prolonged TV use

Blue light exposure from screens like TVs and monitors can potentially disrupt natural circadian rhythms by suppressing melatonin production. This is most concerning with nighttime use, as it may negatively affect sleep quality. Using a large TV as a computer display for many consecutive hours, especially at night, could plausibly exacerbate these effects. Enabling warm color temperature modes in the evenings could help limit blue light output. Additionally, avoiding bright TV screen exposure for 1-2 hours before bedtime helps maintain healthy sleep.

Optimizing monitor ergonomics and posture

Arranging your TV properly helps minimize eye and muscle fatigue during prolonged use as a monitor:

  • Position the screen directly in front of you rather than off to one side. This prevents frequent glancing and neck strain.

  • Place the screen at eye level or slightly below. Looking upward induces frequent blinking and facial tension.

  • Sit with your eyes 18-30 inches from the display. This reduces effort to change focus between the screen and other objects.

  • Avoid slouching forward or leaning your head/neck forward. Keep your head balanced above your shoulders.

  • Take frequent short breaks to stand, stretch and refocus your eyes on distant objects. This also relieves muscle tension.

Ambient lighting considerations

Proper lighting helps reduce eye fatigue and accommodation stress:

  • Position the TV/monitor perpendicular to windows and avoid direct glare or reflections.

  • Use bias or ambient backlighting matched to screen brightness and color temperature. This reduces flicker perception.

  • Enable blue light filter settings in the evenings to limit melatonin suppression effects.

  • Keep room lighting reasonably bright during the day to avoid excessive pupil dilation.

  • Minimize overhead lighting reflecting directly off the screen surface.

Matte vs glossy screens

Matte or anti-glare monitors and TVs dissipate ambient light reflections for improved clarity in bright rooms. Glossy screens provide more vivid colors and contrast, but suffer from noticeable glare. For a TV used as monitor in varying lighting conditions, a light matte finish is ideal to balance image quality and reflectivity. Completely glare-free screens can appear somewhat hazy.

Audible distractions from built-in TV speakers

While convenient, relying on built-in TV speakers for audio as a monitor has some potential downsides. The open-air sound can be distracting to others nearby compared to headset or nearfield monitors. Fan noise from large TVs may also be audible. Dedicated external speakers or headphones block ambient noise for better focus as well as preventing sound disturbances in shared environments.

Long term posture considerations

Using a large television as a desktop monitor could potentially encourage poor posture habits over many months of daily use. Slouching forward and leaning toward the screen becomes more likely as the display size and viewing distance increases. Neck, shoulders and upper back can remain tensed for extended periods. This makes frequent breaks and ergonomic discipline all the more important. Standing desk usage can also minimize sunk-in postures promoted by large screens.

Are computer glasses beneficial for TV use as a monitor?

Computer glasses or gaming glasses with anti-reflective, blue light blocking lenses may provide some benefits for prolonged TV use as a monitor:

  • Blue light blocking filters help limit exposure that can potentially disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep quality when using screens at night.

  • Anti-reflective coatings reduce eyestrain-inducing glare and reflections from ambient light sources.

  • Tinted lenses filter high energy blue/violet light for overall ocular comfort.

  • Light magnifying lenses relax eye focus demands for close distance viewing.

Ultimately, computer glasses represent another tool you can employ in conjunction with proper usage habits and ergonomics to maximize visual comfort.

The verdict: Is prolonged use of a TV as a computer monitor bad for eyesight?

There is no clear evidence that merely using a TV as your computer screen will inherently damage eyesight or cause disease over time. However, improper ergonomics and overuse may contribute to progressive eye fatigue, strain, and nearsightedness risk in some individuals. As with any close-distance display, employing healthy practices is key:

  • Take frequent short breaks following 20-20-20 rule

  • Ensure proper posture and ideal viewing angle

  • Use blue light filters and limit evening exposure

  • Maintain adequate lighting conditions

  • Have regular comprehensive eye exams

With conscientious usage habits and optimal setup, modern TVs can serve as functional monitors. But prolonged productivity and gaming still favor purpose-built displays. Ultimately, listen to your eyes and avoid visual discomfort or fatigue. Moderation and adjustment are key for healthy computer TV use.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.