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I'm wondering if someone has any experience with programming on an HDTV. I'm trying to decide between dual pc monitor vs one big HDTV, like 32" (or maybe even dual hdtv). The nice thing about hdtv is that they cost alot less than an equivalent sized pc monitor. I will specifically be using this for programming and graphics (photoshop, etc). I'm just wondering if HDTV is bad if I use it as a workstation b/c maybe it's worse for the eyes or not really good for programming (b/c maybe the fonts won't be crisp enough), etc. Any thoughts?


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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, GlenH7, Robert Harvey, gnat, Bart van Ingen Schenau Nov 29 '13 at 8:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

9 Answers 9

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At home, I use an LG M227WDP as my second monitor, and it doubles as a HDTV for gaming. It's not bad, the colors can be adjuested similar to the main monitor, and text is displayed quite clearly - but the quality is noticeably inferior to my main monitor, which is nothing expensive, it's a cheap LG W2261VP-PF.

I would opt for the 2 monitors for sure. Adding inches without adding pixels is pointless IMO. I doubt you'll find a HDTV which has greater resolution than 1080p.

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"Adding inches without adding pixels is pointless IMO" -- was the sentence that made me understand the issue at hand! –  foreyez Mar 29 '11 at 18:11
And xkcd covered the issue xkcd.com/732 –  Wudang Oct 19 '11 at 17:37

The main use I can see for HDTVs would be to provide a larger picture instead of a denser one. An HDTV will give you less resolution than a good monitor, but you can get a huge picture on the cheap and if your eyesight is bad then it's more useful.

I have essentially no eyesight problems (after glasses) so for me I want almost as many pixels as I can stuff on the screen so I can fit three editing windows and several debug views on the monitor at once. However, I've seen many people at work and elsewhere who turn down the resolution on LCDs no less, making the image blurry, because they want the font size to be larger. Most of them don't know you can resize the main font on Windows, and even if you do the results are nothing like perfect. These people would all benefit from using an HDTV as their monitor if only because then they could get a larger screen size with the same resolution and make everything big enough for them to see.

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Or you could play around with the DPI. –  Carra Mar 29 '11 at 12:40
It's always better to just increase the font size. More pixels applied to the same space makes it look crisp, clean, and easy to read. –  Berin Loritsch Mar 29 '11 at 13:30
A good HDTV has a resolution of 1920x1080, which is better than most monitors I commonly see (my 22" is only 1680x1050). I think dual 24" HDTVs would make a fine set-up. –  TMN Mar 29 '11 at 14:24
@TMN: 24" full-HD TV? That's more likely 24" monitor with TV tuner. 24" TVs use 1366x768. –  vartec Mar 30 '11 at 11:17
@Berin, I agree. However, many Windows applications rely on custom pixel-based spacing for graphical elements and they're not going to support font size changes correctly. Also, a lot of users are not comfortable making that kind of change. It's better to buy a good monitor and spend 15 minutes learning how to change a useful setting, but my experience is that many users simply don't want that level of comfort configuring Windows. –  jprete Mar 30 '11 at 15:32

Cons of HDTV:

  • some HDTVs still use TN; obviously that's much worse than IPS or PVA;
  • most HDTVs offer very low pixel density (1920x1080 on 42" is just 52dpi);
  • most HDTVs standard mounts are very limited in terms of height adjustment, tilt, swivel and pivot;
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I have a dual monitor setup. One 32" and one 42" HDTVs and I enjoy them very much. I can sit back comfortably while still seeing everything clearly. I highly recommend this kind of setup.

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I also used to use a 42" HDTV as a monitor. The key is to not sit too close to it. I quite liked it, and it was great for playing videos. :) –  Zan Lynx Oct 20 '11 at 0:13

Might as well go for 2x 22" as the price is just a few dollars more and the vertical difference is very noticeable.

You'll never make up for the pixel loss with the 32". You'll also lose the advantage of positioning your windows like only 2+ monitors will allow.

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I have a 37" 720P TV for home use. This is convenient for me because I can watch TV, Skype, play XBox or work through the same device without compromising on position. But the programming experience is no better than a single 1360x768 monitor, except that I can sit further away and still read it clearly.

At work I have two 19" monitors and that works considerably better for programming, but I wouldn't want to watch a night's entertainment on them.

Take that for what it's worth.

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My own two data points are from relatively inexpensive HDTVs from Costco: a 40" and a 37" screen, connected both through an HDMI cable as well as through a VGA cable.

My conclusion was that it was shockingly poor.

Using the preferred resolution of the TV, fonts were sharp in some places, but fuzzy in many more places. More odd still: the pixels did not seem evenly spaced, or that is, where each line in a window was placed on the screen relative did not seem to be the same consistent physical distance from the prior line down the line.

My conclusion was that I should go back to using a monitor, and that perhaps I needed to buy $100 gold plated HDMI cables, or a better HDTV.

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For many months I've thought that what I should do is to get good monitors, and channel public, cable, and optical video through my computers, even for what they call home entertainment centers. I haven't tried it yet, though. –  Apalala Mar 29 '11 at 2:47
I've been using a 46" HD TV as part of a video project. It certainly gives you good posture sitting upright staring at the screen instead of hunched over - assuming you can touch type! –  Martin Beckett Mar 29 '11 at 3:26
I have my 42" HDTV connected to a PC via VGA (for my media center set up) and while I couldn't use it as a normal computer (the screen is just too big) I didn't notice any of the problems you mentioned. Also, gold-plated cables are a total scam. –  Dean Harding Mar 29 '11 at 3:32
As @Dean said, expensive HDMI cables are a waste of money. For example see here and here. –  Steve Melnikoff Mar 29 '11 at 15:00

I find two or more monitors better for me because it makes it much easier to have a varitry of tools open and up at the same time. With 4 monitors I can have IDE, DB Tools, Specs, and Notes/Web/Email all up at the same time. And all without trying to shrink things to fit or flipping between screens.

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I'll make it obvious: no, because they're physically large, will be in an awkward position (too close / too high) and are relatively low-resolution.

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