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9 Reasons You Should Never Use Your TV as a Computer Monitor

Hooking up your computer or laptop to a TV screen seems like a simple way to get more sizeable pixel real estate. However, displays designed primarily for passive big screen entertainment quickly fall down in the productivity, responsiveness, and ergonomics needed for computer work. Read on as a digital display technology expert explores the reasons why TVs make for abysmal computer monitors.

Optimal Computer Viewing Distance Differs Greatly From TVs

Computer displays are designed for relatively close viewing – about an arm‘s length away on average. Exact recommended distances vary by screen size, but around 20-40 inches suits mostmonitors. While you can obviously sit closer or farther if desired, this rough zone allows comfortable viewing without excessive eye movement or squinting.

In contrast, televisions work best when placed faraway from the viewers on a couch or chairs. Viewing research group THX suggests the ideal distance equals 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal length. For a common 65” screen, that equates to roughly 7 to 11 feet viewing distance.

Attempting computer work on a giant 65” TV two feet away strains your eyes trying to focus across a wide field of view. The difference strains ocular muscles leading to headaches and eye fatigue much quicker versus using a purpose-built 30” monitor two feet from your face.

TV’s Lower Pixel Density Makes Reading Text Difficult

Besides sheer enormous size differences between TVs and monitors, pixel density also greatly affects viewability from close distances. Pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI) measure how densely packed pixels appear.

Studies show computer displays need 100 PPI for comfortable reading at close distances. Our same 65 inch 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) TV clocks in at only 68 PPI. But a 27” 4K monitor boasts 163 PPI, easily crossing that 100 PPI threshold A 32” 4K display lands at 137 PPI. much more suitable for work tasks involving heavy text consumption.

Why does pixel density matter so much here? Insufficient pixels in a given viewing area, especially when sitting so close to a 65” TV, mean visible pixel structure with text appearing jagged or glitchy. Your eyes constantly refocus around these pixel abnormalities, once again introducing strain. A 32” 4K monitor avoids these close distance pixel visibility drawbacks.

Signal Processing Causes Frustrating Input Lag on TVs

Televisions rely on complex video processing systems to decode analog cable signals, upscale HDMI feeds, handle digital compression formats like streaming media, and more. This processing incurs display lag as additional buffering and smoothing operations occur before showing each frame.

According to television rating site, newer TVs average around 15 ms input lag across major models. But this fluctuates widely by model from 6ms up past 50ms And spikes over 80 or even 100 ms show up for many sets. These measurements assume Game mode enabled with as much processing disabled as possible. Lag gets even worse outside game modes.

In contrast, responsive monitors designed for office work rather than complex video processing benefit from extremely quick sub 10 ms pixel response times. Top gaming monitors drop as low as 1ms. That order of magnitude faster response provides instantaneous visual feedback after mouse movements.

You may not consciously perceive an extra 25ms delay moving the cursor around on a TV versus nimble monitor. But that lag throws off years of muscle memory tuned to expect instant results after subtle mouse gestures. Our brains work harder reconciling hand movements against disjointed laggy cursor translations leading to yet another exhaustingognitive burden.

Ergonomic Issues Abound Cramming TVs Onto Tiny Desks

The ideal computer workstation allows positioning of the screen directly center in front of the user while sitting straight backed in an ergonomic chair. But the gigantic horizontal footprint plus bulky back casings on large screen TVs hardly fit within the constrained real estate of cubicle desks and compact home office spaces.

You invariably end up shoving other workspace items aside to make room for a TV, and likely still need to crane your neck off axis to view the whole breadth of the large display. Such awkward postures over prolonged periods lead to painful back, neck, and shoulder issues. Chiropractor visits soon enter the chat.

It‘s much healthier and sustainable to choose a moderately sized monitor fitting nicely within the available workspace area. Tilt/swivel adjustments fine tune the display centered in front of your seated position. The limited size and varied positioning combinations reduce strain on the ocular muscles and skeletal structure.

TVs Lack Essential High Refresh Rates for Smooth Gaming

Gaming monitor specs cater towards high frame rates from beefy video cards rather than passive screen media consumption. Fast refresh rates up to 360 Hz combined with adaptive sync technology yield silky smooth visuals from supporting GPUs. Response times down to 0.5 ms ensure lag-free transmission of frame buffer contents to the display.

Meanwhile, modern televisions max out at 120 Hz refresh rates with few exceptions. Response times languish around 8 to 15 ms depending on image processing settings. These numbers still trounce legacy 60 Hz televisions, but fall well short of proper gaming displays. The comparatively sluggish refresh and response capacities on TVs make for subpar gaming experiences. Slow frame delivery and control lag severely impede fast paced shooters, racing games, arcade-style titles.

Uneven Backlighting and Local Dimming Distracts Eyes

Whereas computer monitors strive for uniform backlights across the panel area, TVs often concentrate zones or areas of local dimming to increase static contrast ratios. This works well for movie watching in dark rooms but the zones become obviousand bothersome when staring at a TV as a brightly-lit computer display from nearby.

Additionally, the inherently lower nits brightness from larger LED TV backlight diffusers lead to light bleeding around panel edges and dimmer corners. Again, fine for a darkened cinematic experience but problematic seeing dark regions and bright spots constantly competing when screen sharing desktop work. The uneven lighting distribution strains eyes which expect and compensate for uniform brightness.

TV Color Gamuts Don‘t Match Real World For Productivity

To make on-screen movies, shows, and sports more vivid, TVs boost color saturationand expand ranges beyond normal sRGB standards. Wide color gamut technology like quantum dots, OLED, or filtered LED backlights enhance apparent vibrance through overdriving hues past real world levels.

This conflicts with color accurate needs for productivity spanning design work, video editing, photo manipulation, financial modeling, engineering apps, and beyond. Professionals require faithful rendition aligning with standardized gamuts like sRGB and Adobe RGB to craft realistic creations that translate reliably across devices. Otherwise, oversaturated red becomes neon pink losing original creative intent.

Most televisions also lack factory calibrations or hardware calibration tools to precisely dial in color and brightness settings across panel variations. So even attempting display profiler workflows proves fruitless getting a TV to match realism needs for commercial workloads.

Television Power Draw Over Time Dwarfs Monitors

Larger screens inherently consume more power proportional to backlight needs and components housed inside chunky casings. Taking our 65” television again, power draw while streaming video lands around 280 watts based on rating site measurements. LED TVs hover between 150 and 400+ watts depending on size, brightness, and features.

Meanwhile, a quality 27” QHD monitor sips below 30 watts on average. Even ultrawide counterparts or 4K models draw less than 100 watts. The 4 to 10x power differentials add up over years, especially in regions with high electricity rates.

Estimating very conservatively at 5 hours usage per weekday, 50 weeks per year, a 65” TV needs around 700 kilowatt hours per year. Compare to 125 kWh yearly for a 27” monitor. San Francisco‘s high $0.30 per kWh commercial rate equates to $210 in annual TV power costs versus $38 for an energy efficient monitor – over a 5x difference!

Recommended Monitors By Primary Use Case

Rather than shoehorning an entertainment-first television into unsuitable office environments, consider monitors designed specially for productivity, creative work, entertainment, or gaming. Look for size, resolution, feature sets, and price points matching primary usage scenarios.

General Business Monitor: Dell S2722QC

Dell‘s 27” 4K S2722QC hits the sweet spot for general knowledge work under $300. Height/tilt adjustable stand, USB-C connectivity, plus low blue light and flicker reductions keep users comfortable focusing over long hours. Accurate sRGB 99% color coverage renders office documents, web pages, photos reliably without oversaturation or banding artifacts.

Budget Basic Monitor: Acer SB220Q

This affordable 21.5” Acer monitor sports 1080p resolution and an IPS panel covering 72% NTSC color spaces. Ergonomic tilt functionality lets users angle the screen avoiding glare. While lacking frills like USB hubs or card readers, the SB220Q delivers stunning visuals for under $100. Streaming video pops thanks to high 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16.7 million color depth support.

Design & Editing: Dell U3818DW

Visual creative editors should check out this ultrawide 38” WQHD+ 37.5” Dell display. The generous real estate and curved aspect ratio immerses users across graphics, video, photography, CAD, animation projects. Hardware calibration and 14-bit 3D LUT please color perfectionists requiring advanced tuning to hit critical color spaces. At 60Hz refresh rate and 99% sRGB coverage, this monitor renders vibrant yet realistic images coming to life while preserving creative intent.

Gaming Monitor: ASUS ROG Swift PG279QM

This 27” monitor maxes gaming performance at a $799 asking price. Packed pixel density combining QHD 2560×1440 resolution plus rapid 240Hz refresh rate means eSports pros experience ultra smooth scenes rendered across the fast IPS panel. NVIDIA G-Sync processor ensures screen draws match GPU buffer updates eliminating tears or artifacts. And with certified VESA DisplayHDR 600 contrast, both bright and dark details get portrayed accurately without losing environmental cues. FPS titles, racing sims, fighting games all shine powered by this premium ASUS monitor.

Wrap Up

I explored numerous technical and ergonomic explanations why televisions used as makeshift computer monitors result in productivity loss and physical discomfort. Subpar sizing, pixel density, response times, refresh rates, backlighting uniformity, color spaces, power consumption quickly overwhelm users. Purpose built monitors better match weekday desktop productivity needs across various price points. While the big screen TV excels at lean-back weekend entertainment, recognize the vastly different environmental and performance goals separating these display categories. Mixing those diverging use cases leads only to compromised experiences. I welcome any questions or personal display quandaries where I can lend professional insight.