For the past year or so, I’ve been using an LG C1 48″ OLED TV as my computer monitor. Today, I’ll go over 5 reasons why I decided to do this, and why you should consider using a TV as your computer monitor.
The first reason is OLED. The picture quality on OLED TVs is unbelievable and puts most computer monitors to shame. The high contrast ratios and blacks that are truly black are things that I’m not willing to give up after experiencing. Well, you might ask: why not just get an OLED computer monitor? Unfortunately, compared to how prevalent OLED screens are on small devices like phones, there aren’t really that many options for OLED monitors. And those that do exist cost a pretty penny, but more on that later.
The second reason is size. For displays, bigger is definitely better… up to a point. A TV can give you an immersive experience that is great for media consumption, watching movies or videos, and playing games. A larger size can also be great for people who don’t have perfect vision or feel their eyes getting older. You can use display scaling so you don’t need to squint to see the text.
The perfect size for a TV as a monitor is probably a bit smaller than what I’m currently using. The 48″ LG C1 has a 3840×2160 panel with a DPI of 91.79, while a 42″ screen would have a DPI of 104.9. If the screen size is actually 41.5″ (as they label some “42 inch-class” displays), then the DPI is 106.16, getting even closer to the optimal 110 DPI size that macOS is built around. Windows is a bit more flexible, but also inconsistent, with how it does scalingß.
In fact, these DPIs are very similar to a 27″ 2560×1440 monitor, which has a DPI of 108.79. At 91.79 DPI, the 48″ LG C1 I’m using matches a 32″ 1440p monitor, and is still OK for sharpness with scaled resolutions at my normal sitting distance of about 2.5 feet away. There is more than enough screen to fill my vision, however, so I think a 42″ screen would be better for the additional sharpness.
The third reason is to save space. It might be odd to think that a large TV can save space over a smaller monitor, but using a TV as your monitor means you might not need to have both a TV and a separate monitor. Instead, you have just 1 device for both purposes.
This setup works best if you have a small room. I used to live in a small studio apartment, and that’s when I used a TV as my computer monitor in order to save space. However, the TV at that time was a 40″ 1080p screen, which has a DPI of just 55. Sitting close to it was a horrible experience with very visible pixels. Do not recommend. Certainly not comparable at all with what we can do with today’s 4K and tomorrow’s 8K screens.
The fourth benefit is versatility. You can use a TV as a… well, TV, which means watching live TV on it if you are into that, or hooking up additional devices such as game consoles. You can try to do some of that on a computer monitor, but the experience probably won’t be as smooth since those are mainly designed for computer input.
As for using the TV as a monitor, it can do that really well too. With HDR and variable refresh rate support up to 120Hz, combined with pretty low input lag, it not a bad choice for gaming either. As long as you aren’t a super competitive gamer, I think the immersiveness of the large screen actually makes for a better gaming experience than ultra-high refresh rates.
And finally, the top reason, in my opinion, is that it saves money. Since you don’t need to get both a high-end TV and a high-end monitor, you can just get 1 high-end TV. And TV prices are actually cheaper than comparable monitor prices.
For example, the LG C-series OLED TVs are some of the more popular ones people like to use as monitors due to their low input lag, but also because they are priced competitively and you can often find sales on them.
Compared to that, one of the hottest gaming monitors right now is probably the Alienware QD-OLED 34″ UltraWide. I actually ordered the 2nd generation of that monitor, the AW3423DWF model with FreeSync support, tried it out for a couple of days, and… returned it. My primary complaint with it was the fan noise and coil whine. The fan was very audible and it would spin up after using it for a bit. I stand in the “please don’t put a fan on my monitor” camp, and luckily OLED TVs haven’t adopted them thus far.
But back to the point, the Alienware QD-OLED monitor retails for $1100 USD, while the first generation with G-Sync Ultimate costs $1300. That’s no cheaper than an LG C2, and TVs being updated more frequently with new models means there are deeper discounts on old models. Now that the LG C3 series have launched, you can potentially snag an LG C2 for less than $800.
So a single TV can do double-duty and cost less than a high-end monitor. That’s a clear win in my book.