Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]

hdtvgaming4   Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]Computer monitors were once a very specific class of device. The CRT models of a decade age were large and bulky, had a limited screen size and usually one video input. Early LCD monitors were slimmer, but otherwise no better for general, non-computing use.

The rise of HDTVs and HDMI however, has blurred the line between computer monitors and general-purpose displays. This makes the use of a television an attractive alternative to a normal monitor for gamers – what gamer wouldn’t want to play their favorite PC games on a display twice the size?

But is using HDTV as a gaming monitor a good idea, or are there hidden flaws in the theory?

Making The Connection

hdtvgaming2   Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]Back in the bad old days of displays it was difficult to use a television as a computer display. Part of the problem was the connection – most old tube televisions have nothing more than a co-ax (cable) input.

Today’s HDTVs, by contrast, offer a buffet of connection options. Even the most inexpensive televisions will typically offer multiple HDMI inputs, component, and co-ax. More expensive models might also include DVI, S-Video and more.

It is HDMI, however, that is becoming the most important connection. Modern video cards are compatible with HDMI. They’re also able to send an audio signal via HDMI. This means a true one-cable connection is possible between a computer and HDTV. From a connection standpoint the use of a television for gaming seems to make sense.

Resolution Problems

hdtvgaming3   Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]The second problem that prevented televisions from use as computer displays was resolution – tube televisions simply weren’t capable of the fine detail required to display small text at a usable resolution. That is no longer a problem on today’s high resolution monitors, right?

Actually, it is still a problem. The HDTV industry has been cramming the benefits of high-resolution televisions down the public’s throat with such force that many gamers find themselves caught in the hype, eager to try gaming on a 1080p television. This sounds exciting, but there are devils in the details.

The typical 1080p computer monitor has a display size of 24 inches. The typical 1080p HDTV is 40 inches or larger, but let’s go small and assume a 40 inch display. Both displays have the same resolution, but the HDTV is obviously much, much larger.

This means that the pixels on the HDTV are also much larger than the pixels on the computer monitor. This makes text hard to read on a 40 inch television.  The problem becomes worse on larger televisions and is also worse on older televisions that are limited to 720p.

Suddenly, gaming on a HDTV doesn’t look like such a good idea.

Conclusion: What Kind Of A Gamer Are You?

hdtvgaming   Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]A modern HDTV is easy to connect to a gaming computer, but the resolution compared to the display size is poor. Where does that leave us?

This depends on what kind of gaming you do. Reading text on a HDTV usually isn’t fun, but not all games use much text. If your favorite game is Left 4 Dead 2 you may not care about how text is displayed because you don’t usually need to read text while in the game. In this game the large size of a television can give the game vibrancy and life that isn’t possible on the typical monitor.

If you play World of Warcraft, on the other hand, gaming on a HDTV is going to be difficult because the game’s interface relies on the use of small text. You can mess with in-game interface settings to make text larger, but this can only help so much. Besides, no one wants half of their display taken up by chat windows in size 22 font.

The determining factor when deciding to do any gaming on a HDTV is you. Do you play first person shooters and action games, which typically have a minimal interface? Or do you play RPGs and strategy games, which usually rely on small text and fine graphical details? The former group will enjoy using HDTV as a gaming monitor, but the later group is better off sticking with a traditional monitor.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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15 Comments -

0 votes

Yousef

Lol I just hooked up my PC to my 42″ Samsung plasma 3 days ago and I’m never going back.
When i was in my office using my 17″ Acer monitor, I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair with an uncomfortable posture. Now I’m sitting on my lazy boy in an absolute comfortable position plus I’m using my surround sound system too and it’s so sweet.

As for resolution I currently have it set at 1600×900 with 125% text increase from Windows 7 options and me and my brother can read everything crystal clear from about 10 feet away from the screen. Web pages in Chrome we set to 144% magnification and everything fits the screen and becomes readable.

All games I play I put at 720p resolution for the best readability and performance. I have a MSI GT240 1GB and q8300 oc’d to 3.0ghz and it runs all the games I have on it at the highest settings at full frames, or at least good enough that I don’t notice it. The latest games I have that include this are: Fallout 3, Oblivion, Left For Dead, Left For Dead 2, Mass Effect 2, Far Cry 2, and Dragon Age:Origins.

It’s awesome and I advise everyone to try it out. It did take a couple hours of testing and retesting to find the best resolution, text magnification, and settings for games, but the settings we have seem optimal.

0 votes

Jonny

When I came to college I bought a really cheap 26″ 720p HDTV. I got it solely for my xbox 360 until I realized that my laptop and this tv both have an HDMI connection. I’ll never go back to my one tiny 13″ laptop screen again. The huge productivity increase makes all work easier. I’ve never noticed any difficulty in reading text even though the tv has to be set at 1360×768.

I will say that I did try using my parent’s 60″ 1080p HDTV as a monitor once. That failed miserably. Any and all text was illegible from any distance. Although turning on an HD movie looked fantastic.

0 votes

Taggbro

I recently bought a 32″ Vizio 1080p for work (I work with architectural plans) and have my gpu set to 1900×1200. All I can say is I love it! I sit about normal distance (the same as I would from a regular size monitor) and the graphics are fine. I labored over whether to make the switch and I have absolutely NO regrets. Because the xp machine is older, there is some lag when rendering large prints so gaming on this machine would probably not be a good thing! I’m running on 2gb ram XP, and an older AMD chip. I can only imagine hooking it up to my 6gb ram, core i7 win7 4850 gpu.

0 votes

M.S. Smith

It does depend on the size. As some comments have said, you can have a happy experience on an HDTV…if the size is similar to what a monitor would be anyway.

I wouldn’t play RPGs on a 40+ plus HDTV, though. I’ve been down that road and I thought the experience was pretty poor.

0 votes

M.S. Smith

It does depend on the size. As some comments have said, you can have a happy experience on an HDTV…if the size is similar to what a monitor would be anyway.

I wouldn’t play RPGs on a 40+ plus HDTV, though. I’ve been down that road and I thought the experience was pretty poor.

0 votes

Aibek

same here, I have a 50” HDTV but the games don’t look as good as they do on my 24” Dell monitor. I think it really depends on the game.

0 votes

TechnGuide

I think it’s an excellent idea. Go for it!

0 votes

TechnGuide

I think it’s an excellent idea. Go for it!

0 votes

Ian

Im playing at a 23 inch HDTV 1080P ( its made for trips i guess )
But it seriously works great for me! got it connected with hdmi.
Got to mention though that my acer 19 inch next to it got ( on my opinion ) better deeper colors but anyhow! i give it a big go! since i got a DVB-C+ HDTV tuner in it aswell i can just switch to TV anytime i want.. great for a queue for Battleground in WoW for example.

0 votes

Ian

Im playing at a 23 inch HDTV 1080P ( its made for trips i guess )
But it seriously works great for me! got it connected with hdmi.
Got to mention though that my acer 19 inch next to it got ( on my opinion ) better deeper colors but anyhow! i give it a big go! since i got a DVB-C+ HDTV tuner in it aswell i can just switch to TV anytime i want.. great for a queue for Battleground in WoW for example.

0 votes

900tones

Im using my 27″ Samsung HDTV and everything looks great. text is perfectly rendered at 1600×1050. Played Fable 2, LotR Online, and Civ5 and all look amazing on the screen.

0 votes

Jon Jon

I just bought a 46″ 7000 series samung hd/3d lcd TV, all I can say is wow!! . I hooked up my gtx480 through a dvi hdmi converter plug to the tv and Racedriver grid is awesome. The tv is 200hz so I get 60 fps solid silky smooth.
I usually game on a 27 iyama wide 1920×1200 but down res’d to 1920 1080 for the tv and its awesome, I just mey get me a 40″ to use as a monitor :)

0 votes

Jon Jon

I just bought a 46″ 7000 series samung hd/3d lcd TV, all I can say is wow!! . I hooked up my gtx480 through a dvi hdmi converter plug to the tv and Racedriver grid is awesome. The tv is 200hz so I get 60 fps solid silky smooth.
I usually game on a 27 iyama wide 1920×1200 but down res’d to 1920 1080 for the tv and its awesome, I just mey get me a 40″ to use as a monitor :)

0 votes

ElliottK

why not buy a hdtv monitor and do both with great resolution and still be able to get about 30″ displays

0 votes

Dotma

All games I play I put at 720p resolution for the best readability and performance. I have a MSI GT240 1GB and q8300 oc’d to 3.0ghz and it runs all the games I have on it at the highest settings at full frames, or at least good enough that I don’t notice it. The latest games I have that include this are: Fallout 3, Oblivion, Left For Dead, Left For Dead 2, Mass Effect 2, Far Cry 2, and Dragon Age:Origins.