Using TV as Monitor


Nov 1, 2004
I own a SONY widescreen 32 inch standard TV. Wish to use it as a monitor using an Hercules 3D Prophet 4500 with TV-Out.
First of all... Is this any good, i.e., using an analog Tv for this purpose? (its not HDTV ready though it as an S-video input... i think...)

Now that i'm buying a new graphic card (ATI Radeon 9600 Pro) what do i need more to complete the equation? Must i buy a new TV?
The final purpose is to use the PC as an HTPC.

I realy need help on this subject as i know nothing!


Even using SVHS to connect, it is far from the quality of a computer monitor. For games it's not bad, although chat logs and other text can be hard to see. For internet surfing, or working with text, it is aweful. You'll be forced to bump up font size just to read desktop icons. I've tried at least 6 different video cards/systems hooked up to a Sony XBR TV, and none provided acceptable text quality with RCA video cable or even SVHS. A LCD with DVI inputs would be a different story. So I guess it depends on what you are expecting. For an HTPC, or a spare system, you may be happy with the results. But by no means does it make for a good all-round computer.

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Like paul said, most things other than text will be fine, but any test work will drive you to distraction. It will 'function' but never be 'good' for text. There are certain tweaks you can use to display text better, but they are still unsatifying IMO due to very high 'dot pitch' of TV, and the edge-bleeding/blending properties of the TV.
To get and Idea of what you're dealing with try to set your deaktop resolution at 320x240 (yes SDTV/EDTV is 720/640x480[for NTSC], but this is for effect) to get an idea of what text will look like that will likely STILL be better than on the TV.

So the question is what are you doing with it? For menu navigation etc. heck it's fine, for quickly composing an e-mail or IM it'll be acceptable, but for any real word processing or office applications, or even surfing you will find it extremelly annoying and not up to the task. In the early days of the internet (like mosaic days and before [like text based gohper, archie, et al]) it wouldn't matter because everything was LOW-RES, now you may scroll alot even using a 1024x768 desktop, so 640x480 will make sites like THG painful to navigate (lots of scrolling/mousing). And you can forget any kind of detailed view of things like circuit boards in reviews. Like Paul said use bigger font, also try different fonts that may be more ditinct (trial and error). You will also find that you have to mess with TV functions like Sharpness,contrat and brightness to try and tone down what will likely be very harsh edges on boxes (even HUD areas in games).

If it's just for casual work, and mainly to use as an Audio/Video Jukebox and for gaming it'll be fine, if it's for any regular day to day use, then get a cheap laptop to use instead (a P166mhz laptop with 8x6 passive LCD would be better IMO [which is why I've always gone that route instead of the TV {using the DELL right now (MMmmm warm Nutz! :evil: while watching Antiques roadshow on CBC while eating BlueBerry Waffles :lol: )}]) because it will give you a far better experience than any TV. HDTV is a different story, as are LCDs, but S/EDTV will be unsatisfying for anything but motion video and gaming.

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Nov 1, 2004
So... let's move to another level...
If as you say analog TV has that many cons (in the light of the type of usage i had in mind), i should be looking forward to HDTV, correct? I bought that Sony for little less than $2000 and i have no problem in doing so again.
If so, is there anything i should know about?
I'm planing on using the TV and the PC as part of a home entertainment system, i.e., to play DIVX movies, listen to some MP3, send an ocasional e-mail and surf the web.
What i'm looking for then? DVI? LCD? Plasma? I'm blind as a bat.
I would welcome your honest opinion on this subject.


Dec 16, 2002
<A HREF="" target="_new">Go here</A> - It's a forum of all dedicated Audio/Video guys. People there are really knowledgable about HTPC's and can offer you first hand experience on what HDTV to get for the money you have to spend.

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Standard TV is GREAT for games. The slight fuzziness it what makes crappy consoles look OK. But they don't have the resolution needed for displaying most computer sized text. Unless you plan on reading a lot of text, it will be fine for things like games.

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Well at work we have a 50inch Sony Plasma in the Lobby for quick glance info (like time, company stock price, scrolling news, video interviews with company officers, etc.) from the company webpage. It looks great and has well defined edges for text, but it's like 1400x768 so you have a good pixel size for characters in that case. You still won't think of it as being VERY crisp thanks in part to the size of the display, although plasma is one of the best IMO, but considering your uses it should be fine. If you are thinking of a new TV for this, then LCD and Plasma would be my choice for HTPC based applicantios, but they are the most expensive too. I don't like DLP (we use the portable projection ones for presentations at work) the whites looks a little yellowy-grey and under motion I don't like the colouring. I find even LCD projection to be better than DLP, and they are about the same price. My personal favourite (I'm always interested in upgrding my TV to a bigger one [my 27" and 32" are getting small]) is LCOS. I like the picture fidelity on LCOS screens, but honestly I haven't focused on text quality with them. The biggest barrier, Phillips dropped their LCOS line and INTEL dropped their development of the next GEN LCOS chip (Cayley), so it's likely gonna disappear it seems. I don't know why they dropped it (maybe something as sad as not being 'protifable' :wink: , I know INTEL dropped development because R&D costs were high, and with all the format competition out there it likely was a gamble, and INTEL of course has so little money! :mad: ). Thid sux if it's your choice which is the case for moi. Personally I'm still waiting for Xx<b>1080</b> to be 'reasonable'. But LCOS was 1400x800 almost universally (smaller Phillips 1280x768), and some 1400-1600x1050. Among the highest of 'entry level' to 'mid level' options IMO.

For the uses you have listed, I think any of the above will be fine, depending on which you like as a motion video viewer, the only one I would stay away from is the regular projection models because the cheap ones are just that, damn cheap. The Runco's are GREAT, but they are F'in expensive!

One of the problems will still be the refresh of the screen, TVs are almost all lower than monitors, and you may still notice the occasional flicker. Plasma does get rid of that though with it's scanning frequencies.

Now the things to look for would be DVI (a must IMO) forget HDMI for this application (although if you can get both, even better) and component inputs is too much of a pain and not as good a choice with this price range. Check the resolution, many lower priced Plasmas, LCD, DLPs have TERRIBLE resolution and are almost no better than a standard TV. I once went to see a Norcent Plasma TV on what appeared to be a super sale ($1200 CDN) only to find out it wasn't only NOT fully HDTV, but it was freakin' 7??x480 for a ~42-43" TV! So try and look for at least XGA Xx<b>768/720</b>. So if your current budget is around $2000 and you're in the US, I would say you're probably restricted to LCD projection (either as a console unit, or separate portable projector) and DLP (once again console and projector). IF you can find an LCOS TV, be it from Phillips or from someone else (like OleVia) I would say go for that. And you may find some deals on prices. But really you have to see them all in action before spending that kind of coin.

Nothing beats seeing them all side by side, make sure they are all properly set; alot of people I get asked to help, are initially impressed by TV A over B until I ask the sales guy if I can change the settings. Too many TVs are not properly adjusted in the showroom or people have messed with the settings when they con't know what they are doing (more colour is a good thing right, set that to max, same with sharpness!). I'm not saying all stores do this, but I tend to find that the lower priced TVs are the ones with the contrast off, colour off, and the sharpness off. Could this be to make people think that only the top TVs have good pictures, well I don't know but I do find it strange that they are the only TVs that don't seem to be even set at the mid-point for the controls.
Also, bring your own laptop if you can, or force them to use an in store laptop to show you what these screens look like with a basic picture. Take a screen caputre of THG or something plus a word document or two, so you don't have to connect to the internet (but I've found BestBuy and FutureShop in Canada and the US have unprotected wireless access in most of their stores. You may think that's asking alot, but most sales reps are very interested in making a sale, and if they aren't willing to do that for your 2 grand then re-think dealing with that store, there's lots of competition out there. Also know what you are looking for before you go in so they can't just pawn of the exclusive inverse-motion-AI-shadowing-enchancer feature, which is just their name for comb filtering or something.

EDIT: Also don't let them confuse you, be sure to find out the NATIVE resolution. ALOT of TVs/Salespeople will refer to 1920x1200/1080 with DVI connector or 1280x1024 using VGA, but really you want to know native resolution because text looks kinda bad when they are trying to mimic other resolutions, it's worst on LCDs but still not good in any situation compared to the true resolution.

- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TheGreatGrapeApe on 11/14/04 02:02 PM.</EM></FONT></P>


S-video is better than composite, but still less than 640x480. Really bad if you ever want to read any typing.

You need a) an HDTV (at least 1080i) and b) a video card that ewither has, or has available, an HTDV adapter for.

You can buy HDTV adapters for Radeons, just go to the ATI site.

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Dec 31, 2007
TV-out sucks due to two things, low resolution and low grade scan conversion.

In North America television uses NTSC which has maximum theoretical resolution of 525 scan lines per frame. Because of overscanning this effectively becomes 480 scan lines. In computer terms this gives you a starting resolution of 640x480, maximum.

Unfortunately, NTSC uses interlaced technology. Each frame is divided into two fields. One field displays the odd scan lines and one field displays the even scan lines. The eye combines the two fields into one frame. This is not a problem for a video camera which was designed to record in the same fashion. However for video cards this is not so easy.

Ideally a scan converter would break up the original frame and build the two fields. However this is technically difficult and expensive to do. Good outboard scan converters cost from $100's to $1000's. The cheap ones, like those built into video cards, take a short cut, a big short cut. They simply create one field and send it twice to simulate two NTSC fields. The logical resolution becomes approx 640 x 240 approx. NTSC needs two fields per frame but now both frames are identical. The resolution is cut by half.

This might only be true with older video cards (3 years or so). You could actually see that every other scan line is missing.

Could someone with a new video card do quick test? Set up TV-out and set a solid colored backround. The easiest way is to open any editor and change the color. If you see horizontal lines of background color on your televison as I described then you are getting only 640 x 240 resolution. If you get a solid color background, no lines, then you are getting true 640 x 480.

Note that I'm talking about standard televison using, RCA composite video and S-video, not a progressive scan model with VGA, DVI, or Component Video inputs. Nor am I talking about HDTV. Just standard TV.

<b>A mind is a terrible thing</b><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 11/15/04 05:49 PM.</EM></FONT></P>

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