Buying an LCD Monitor as a TV

I went shopping for a TV with my friend Jamie last night. I myself ended up making the decision to buy an LCD TV rather than a monitor several years ago (LCD TV vs LCD monitor, no difference between them, and my eventual BenQ DV2680 purchase). The technology has evolved in the meantime, and Jamie ended up with a 22" LG LCD monitor (L226WA - $349 at Future Shop). The neat thing about this monitor is that it also has direct composite video inputs, so it can be used for any video source.

We did do the back and forth between a larger LCD TV, but it was 3x the price, and for that you "just" get a larger display (but lower resolution for computer work), speakers, and an HD tuner. But, if you don't have cable, and will be hooking up a DVD player and/or a computer, the tuner is not needed, and external speakers are going to be better quality. Seems like a no brainer, especially considering that the Shaw PVR now actually has an HDMI connector on it as well.

The monitor connections:

  • composite video inputs: the "old" high quality standard that most people will have, and that most game consoles have
  • HDMI input: video and audio
  • single audio out: a simple headphone jack style audio output, meant to put out the audio carried in over the HDMI cable. This can then easily be plugged into a set of computer speakers or use headphones.
  • DVI and D-SUB connectors: for easily connecting in a laptop or other computer

The DVD player then hooks directly into the monitor via the HDMI connection. Audio can be taken directly from the audio outputs it has, or pushed through the audio out on the monitor.

One of the most expensive parts of the system? A 3ft HDMI cable cost $70. And that was the cheaper one that Kate found after the salesperson got us the "basic" Monster cable that was $140! A cable that costs more than a DVD player...wow.

In any case, it was fun to dive back into what the current state of the art is with consumer electronics. Computing and consumer electronics continue to merge, the content owners are trying to lock down legitimate use with these hard core new cable technologies, and I can barely remember the massive mix of acronyms and cable connectors we need to deal with.

At the end of the day, watching an upsampled DVD in one moment, and a great downloaded Planet Earth episode the next, I can only see the mix of computing and video getting easier. Especially when folks immediately jump to solutions like "now all I need to do is hook up a Mac Mini to this...".