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5 Ways To Watch TV On A Computer Monitor (2023 How-To)

Watch TV On A Computer Monitor

“Today of all days.”

You sigh as you attempt to open your TV for the hundredth time.

Now, you’re on the hunt for a new one to watch the finale of your favorite show.

Don’t buy one yet.

Instead, let me tell you how to use a different device on your home as a TV:

Your PC monitor.

Keep reading to discover:

  • 3 swift steps to use a computer monitor as a TV output.
  • The crucial differences between your TV and a computer monitor.
  • TV Tuners: The essential device so your PC can receive TV signals.
  • How to use your Digital Cable TV Subscription on your Windows PC.
  • And so much more…

How to watch TV on a computer monitor – 5 ways

#1: Connect your TV to the PC with an HDMI cable

Step 1: Check if your computer has an HDMI port

Here’s the thing:

There are a lot of ways you can watch TV on your computer.

But the easiest way of doing so?

Through HDMI cables.

Not only is this the quickest method, but using an HDMI connection can also ensure the following:

  • Less latency.
  • Better reliability in terms of the connection.
  • Lossless transfer of data, resulting in better audio and display.
  • HDMI cables are remarkably cheaper than buying wireless setups.

Now, here’s the problem:

Note: Not all computers have HDMI. Depending on your monitor, you’ll also need a VGA to HDMI adapter for this to work.

Feel around the back or at the side of your monitor to check. It should look like a rectangular port with 2 heavily rounded bottoms.

Once you’ve confirmed that such a port is available to you, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Purchase the correct HDMI cable

Purchase The Correct HDMI Cable

So, you have an HDMI port. The next thing you’ll need is an HDMI cable.

Now, it might be tempting to buy the first HDMI cable you see on the market.

However, allow me to convince you otherwise:

Buying the wrong HDMI cable for your devices can result in a handshaking issue. It’s called such because it’s like shaking hands with 2 right hands, only with connected devices.

This is what happens when you use an incompatible cable with your devices.

Handshaking can usually manifest in a lot of different ways, some of which are:

  • No external device recognition.
  • Flickering on the output screen.
  • Discoloration on the output screen.

Another reason this glitch happens is the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). This is a protocol embedded in HDMI cables that protects content from piracy.

This is how companies protect their data.

The problem here is that not all cables have HDCP. This is another factor that you need to consider before buying a cable.

Now, lecture time’s over. Here’s what you need to do:

Find out your TV and PC’s native resolution and refresh rate. You can get this information using these quick steps:

  1. Go to Google.
  2. Type and enter the model of your devices.
  3. Look for the official website of your manufacturer.
  4. Your resolution and refresh rate should be available under specs.

Alternatively, you can also consult your device’s physical manual.

Types of HDMI cables

Now, use that information to buy a new cable along with this table:

HDMI CableRefresh RatesResolutions
Cat 1 — Standard30 Hz720p to 1080p
Cat 2 — High Speed60 Hz at 1080p, 30 Hz at 4K1080p to 4K
Cat 2 — 4K60 Hz4K
Cat 3 — 8K120 Hz at 4K, 60 Hz at 8K4K to 8K

There’s 1 more thing you need to buy before you can proceed to the next step:

An HDMI adapter.

Now, you might be wondering:

“Both my TV and PC already have an HDMI port. What’s an adapter for?”

You’re correct, but here’s the issue:

The HDMI port on your TV can only input devices and not output.

In other words…

You can watch other devices on your TV but can’t use an HDMI cable to output your display to other devices.

An HDMI adapter takes care of this issue.

After you’ve secured 1…

Step 3: Connect your TV to the PC

You now have all the requisite tools to watch TV on your computer.

All that’s left to do is connect your TV to the PC. Follow these 5 quick and easy steps:

  1. Insert the HDMI adapter into your TV’s HDMI port.
  2. Connect the Input end of your HDMI cable to the PC.
  3. And insert the other end (Output) into the HDMI adapter.
  4. Turn your TV on.
  5. Go to the channel or app you want to watch.

Now, wait for a couple of seconds. Your PC should now be reflecting the display of your TV.

Note: As previously mentioned, there are many ways to watch TV shows on your PC. Here are some of them, arranged from cheapest to most costly:

#2: Watch shows using streaming apps

So, you want to watch TV shows on your computer.

Here are some of the streaming apps you can use to watch your favorite movies or series:

If so, it would be easier to use these apps on your PC directly instead of on a TV.

For this to happen, all you need is a web browser and the websites for these respective apps. Furthermore, some apps are also downloadable on Windows and Mac devices directly.

This way, you won’t have to go through the hassle of purchasing peripherals like HDMI cables. Instead, all you need to buy is their subscription services.

#3: Use a TV tuner

Note: This tip is for those who have a spare antenna in their home. If you don’t, jump to the next tip.

Now, you’re wondering if you can use it on your PC. Only, there’s nothing to connect your antenna to.

Well, wonder no more.

You can use an antenna with your PC using a TV Tuner. This device allows your PC to receive signals like a TV would.

The only question now is:

Which TV Tuner should you buy? Here’s what I recommend:

Once you’ve secured your TV Tuner, these are the instructions you must follow to enable this on your PC:

  1. Download the software that comes with your TV Tuner. You should receive an installer with your device.
  2. Insert your TV Tuner into a USB port on your PC.
  3. Connect the coax cable on an antenna to the other end of your TV Tuner.
  4. Open your PC.
  5. Launch the TV Tuner software.
  6. Wait for your software to finish scanning for channels.
  7. Pick a channel you want to watch.

Note: Are you experiencing TV Tuner issues? Well, you’re in luck…kind of.

Windows PCs offer free troubleshooting for your TV Tuner. To take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is:

  1. Open your Control Panel.
  2. Type and enter “troubleshooting” on the search bar.
  3. Launch the Troubleshooting menu.
  4. Press View All.
  5. Select “Set Up TV Tuner.”

#4: Buy a streaming device

Another thing you can try is to buy a streaming device and connect it to your PC.

After all, streaming devices do their best to emulate the UI of a smart TV. So, connecting a streaming device to your TV is a great way to get a “mock TV” on your PC.

Streaming devices also have the following features available:

  • TV-like interface.
  • Quick and timely updates.
  • Ease of use due to its portability.
  • Controls using famous Voice Assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri.

Here’s the problem with this setup:

HDMI ports on your CPUs are only Input, not Output. However, there should be an Output port on your monitor.

So, what remains is to talk about which streaming device is the best out there. And for that, I only trust the following:

#5: Get a cable subscription

Are you subscribed to a Digital Cable Service?

Check if your cable offers PC services. To know for sure, see if your cable box came with a Digital Cable Tuner.

If so, look for a CableCard next, which should look like a normal credit card with circuitry at the side. This will allow your PC to recognize cable networks.

Now, all you need to get cable on your PC are these 2 steps:

Step 1: Set up your cable device

  1. Look at the back of your Tuner for its Unit Address and CableCard Serial Number. Take note as you’ll need these later.
  2. Insert the Digital Cable Tuner into your PC’s USB port.
  3. Connect the CableCard to your Digital Cable Tuner.
  4. Set up your Digital Cable Tuner with the cable box.

Step 2: Enable cable service on your PC

  1. Open the Tasks app on your PC.
  2. Go to the Settings page.
  3. Press TV.
  4. Select Set Up TV Signal.

After that, call your cable service provider and give them the Unit Address and Serial Number. They’re the ones responsible for enabling the use of cable on your PC.

Note: This is only available for users in the United States.

BONUS: Get YouTube TV

Alternatively, you also have an option to avail of live TV streaming services.

My pick?

YouTube TV. After all, they offer the following:

  • Live sports and shows.
  • Unlimited DVR recording space.
  • Up to 6 accounts per subscription.
  • Bundle option with YouTube Premium and YouTube Originals.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? The only problem is that it’s only available in the United States.

But, if you’re in the USA, this is how much a subscription to YouTube TV costs:

YouTube TV PlanFirst 3 MonthsAfter 3 Months
Base Plan$54.99$64.99
Spanish Plan$24.99$34.99

Now, if you’re convinced and you want to try YouTube out, here’s what you must do:

  1. Go to the YouTube TV website.
  2. Press Try It Free.
  3. Log in using your Google account.
  4. Avail of your chosen subscription.
  5. Enter your payment details.

And you’re done. You can now enjoy these channels on your computer any time you want.

If you’re interested in learning more about YouTube TV…

You can watch this in-depth video explaining the ins and outs of the app:

What’s the difference between a TV and computer monitor?

The difference between a TV and a computer monitor primarily concerns their displays. With TVs, you generally have a larger screen for watching that can range from 32 inches to 75 inches. Meanwhile, monitors tend to have smaller but faster and less laggy displays.

Furthermore, a computer monitor is better than a TV in terms of:

  • Resolution: Better configured for CPU.
  • Latency: Faster response time for your peripherals.
  • Refresh Rates: Smoother display due to more frames per second.

On the other hand, TVs are better for watching shows. This is because of their large displays and the following features:

  • Noise reduction and display upscaling.
  • HDR, HDR10, and Dolby Vision: For truer blacks and lifelike colors.
  • Various new display technologies like Crystal LED, OLED, and QLED.

You might also be interested in: Is A TV A Computer?

Can you turn a computer monitor into a TV?

You can turn a computer monitor into a TV. You’ll only need the following materials:

  • The correct HDMI cable.
  • HDMI adapters for connectivity.

As for how: check the section in this article titled:

“How to watch TV on a computer monitor – 3 steps.”

Is it worth it?

It’s not worth it to use a computer monitor as a TV. Not only is it more expensive, a computer screen just isn’t the ideal medium for watching shows. After all, it’s:

  • Smaller than a TV screen.
  • Less color and contrast-capable than a TV.
  • Unable to receive TV signals by themselves.

That’s why a TV is always better for watching shows.

Moreover, you also have to think of your home aesthetics. Wouldn’t it be weird to see a small monitor in your living room instead of a true TV?

However, if you’re insistent on using a computer screen to watch TV, consider buying the following: