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Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:58 am
by Stephen Hart
I brought this up on the old forum, and I'll reprise it here.

I'm going to replace our old CRT TV with a flat-screen model. Probably a 37" from Costco. I'm confused by the many different models Costco offers. Any tips from SMUG?

I'll use it with a DVD player (probably a new but simple one) and with a MacBook Pro (mid 2010) for playing streaming Netflix movies. I'll probably use a set of computer speakers with the TV, not a surround-sound setup.

I have a DVI adapter for the MacBook Pro (see below). Do I need an HDMI adapter?
Will the TV come with cables long enough for connecting to the MacBook?

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:44 am
by Ray Bentsen
Stephen Hart wrote: I have a DVI adapter for the MacBook Pro (see below). Do I need an HDMI adapter?
Will the TV come with cables long enough for connecting to the MacBook?
I have been using the same DVI adapter, but am using it with a DVI to HDMI cable. I would bet that most current HDTVs come without DVI in ports. I would shoot for a new TV with at least three HDMI ports.

Most HDTVs don't come with any cables, but you could always check the box to see what is included. I would also check out Radio Shack and see what length cables they have in stock in planning for your purchase.

One other suggestion: Consider an AppleTV ($99) to wirelessly stream video/audio to your new HDTV (either from iTunes on your MacBook or from an iPad)... it might save having a cable draped across the family room floor. Also, consider that 25' HDMI cable alone could cost around $80.

;)

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:50 am
by Stephen Hart
Thanks, Ray.
I wasn't thinking about running the cable across the room, just far enough to let the MacBook sit on a cart with the TV. I think the Remote app will let me control the movie with my iPhone.
This cable seems like it'd do fine:
http://store.apple.com/us/product/H4637ZM/A

I see that Apple TV works with Netflix. You still need an hdmi-hdmi cable, but Apple's is only $19.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:48 am
by Richard Serkes
I seriously doubt that the HDTV will come with any cable other than the power cable. Most peripherals (e.g., satellite receiver or DVD player) will provide you with the proper cable to connect to your HDTV. The typical HDMI cable length is 6' so if you need a longer run you're going to have to buy an additional cable.

Don't watch movies using some substandard computer speaker set. COSTCO sells a great sound bar from Vizio for $89. And if you want good bass then COSTCO also has a set from Vizio that includes the sound bar and a wireless subwoofer.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:13 am
by Stephen Hart
Thanks.

How's the volume on such speakers? We sometimes find that older movies have poor soundtracks, both in quality and volume.

It would be convenient to have less cable clutter. The system we have now is a kludge, with a regular TV plus computer speakers (with bass unit) running out of the DVD player and a rat's nest of cables.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:33 pm
by Richard Serkes
We use the sound bar on a new flat panel HDTV and it sounds great. It connects to the HDTV via a single audio optical cable but you can use RCA cables if you like clutter.

Give it a try. If you don't like it you can return it to COSTCO within a specified time frame.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:20 pm
by Stephen Hart
Richard Serkes wrote:you can use RCA cables if you like clutter
I just finished making two large computer desks preparatory to moving our office and then working on the room it's in now. (And then moving it back.)

Each has a 24" x 4" cutout on the back edge, with a shelf 4" below the cutout to hold a power strip out of sight. There are still a lot of cables.
All of our keyboards and mice are wireless, of course. See second image below.

[Back on topic]
We keep our TV on a wheeled cart, and I'm going to buy a new one to move toward a cleaner look.

I will think about the advice you've both given. I may be able to sell the Apple TV to my wife as a way to watch video lectures when we don't have a movie in mind. (I'm going to start a new thread about Apple TV, as it seems to be enough far off the topic.) This is the series I've been listening to (and sometimes looking at) recently:
http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:49 pm
by Richard Serkes
Just a thought... Before you start buying any external speakers or bar and the appropriate cables check the HDTV and see what kind of audio out ports it has.

For our setup I go from the source (satellite TV receiver) directly to the sound bar and bypass the HDTV completely. You may or may not want to do it that way based on your setup.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:58 pm
by Stephen Hart
Richard, your last post is right on. I'll just buy the TV and experiment with its own speakers and the computer speakers we have on hand.

Re: Flat-Screen TV as Monitor

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:15 pm
by Richard Serkes
Stephen Hart wrote:Richard, your last post is right on. I'll just buy the TV and experiment with its own speakers and the computer speakers we have on hand.
You have my personal guarantee that you won't use the HDTV's internal speakers. These new flat TVs just don't have any room for speakers so what you get is just awful. That's why we had to buy the Vizio sound bar for $89. Be prepared to shell out some more loot for sound.