Personal Technology

Buy A TV or Computer Monitor?

Mike wants a Big Monitor to hook up to his laptop docking station. The question is this: buy a HDTV or a computer monitor? There is no comparison when it comes to cost — the TV monitor is lot less moola. Why?

To answer that, I brushed off my search skills. I know we need to think about screen resolution and refresh rate — but what else?

From a UK ecommerce site:

When deciding between a standard PC monitor and an HDTV, you will have decide what the main use of the PC will be. If its mainly used as a games machine then the HDTV’s deficiencies as PC monitor will be less obvious and even outweighed by the stunning view of a large screen to play your games on. Likewise if your PC is going to be used as an entertainment center to watch movies or music video’s etc then the quality of of the screen will be more than acceptable. However for general PC use, I.E. office type applications or web browsing you may find that the quality of text can vary wildly from screen to screen.

He is not going to be using this output device for entertainment — this is to boost the screen real estate of the laptop. It’s a work station, not a play station.

Panel types

Response time

How long does it take the LCD crystals to change state? Response time (also called gray-to-gray, GTG) is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is related to but different from the refresh rate. The smaller the number, the better.

Refresh rate

How many lines can be “refreshed” per second? For a PC monitor, the “accepted minimum refresh rate would be 70hz…  Look for an HDTV with at least a 100Mhz refresh rate to ensure that this does not cause any viewing problems.”


An HDTV has either a 1280×720 resolution or 1920×1080 resolution. That means a 26″ TV will look sharper (the pixels will be smaller) than a 42″ TV, all things being equal. This is why TVs look fine from a distance but may not be as easy on the eyes when you are sitting right across from it, like you are when sitting (or standing) at a desk.

Connection types

Mike’s docking station has two video inputs:  DVI and VGA.

The contenders

viewsonic32″ Viewsonic: CDE3201 : MSRP $549

  • 32″ LED
  • Optimum resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HD
  • Contrast Ratio: 1200:1 (typ) / 15000:1 DCR
  • Response time: 3ms (GTG)
  • Refresh rate:  75Hz/82kHz
  • Brightness: 300 cd/m2
  • Inputs: VGA/HDMI/DVI
  • Built-In Speakers
  • Net weight (with stand): 14.3 lb
  • Warranty: Three-year limited warranty on parts, labor and backlight.
  • Other: includes VGA video cable, HDMI cable
  • Amazon: $396.24; NewEgg: $399


LG 32LN530032″ LG: 32LN5300 : MSRP $449

  • 32″ LEC / Direct LED
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080p
  • Contrast Ratio: N/A
  • Response time: 6ms
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Brightness: N/A
  • Inputs: HDMI (3) / USB (3.0/2.0)
  • TV tuner, built in speakers
  • Net weight (with stand): 14.8 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 Year Parts & Labor
  • Costco: $299; Amazon: $313.95; BestBuy: $329


vizio39″ Vizio E39A1 : MSRP $369

  • 39″ LEC / Direct LED
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080p
  • Contrast Ratio: Dynamic 200000:1
  • Response time:  8.5 ms
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz
  • Brightness: N/A
  • Inputs:  HDMI (2)/USB
  • TV tuner, built in speakers
  • Net weight (with stand):  22 lbs
  • Warranty:  1 year warranty
  • Costco: $399 ; Amazon: $368


40″ sony ldl-45r450aSony KDL-4oR450A : MSRP $599

  • 40″ Direct LED backlight technology
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080p
  • Contrast Ratio: 40,000:1 / Dynamic Contrast Ratio over 1 million
  • Refresh rate: 60hz with Motion Flow of 120
  • Response time: 4ms
  • Brightness: N/A
  • Inputs: HDMI (3)/ USB 2.0
  • TV tuner, built in speakers
  • Net weight (with stand): 16.3 lbs
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • Other: introduced in 2009
  • Costco: $459 (through mid-March); Amazon: $448



By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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