How to Convert a Computer Monitor Into a TV

Written by jennifer claerr
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A flat panel television can be very expensive. If you have a spare flat panel computer monitor lying around, you only need to make a small investment in equipment to convert it to a television. In fact, you can even use your computer monitor to receive television stations while it's attached to your computer. TV tuners for computers are usually inexpensive and easy to install. However, deluxe models are available if you'd like to enhance your viewing experience.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Compare internal and external TV tuners that are designed for use with computers. See if the tuner supports HD, DVI, component video, S-video, stereo, surround sound or other features you might like to use. Ensure that any internal devices will work with the expansion slots in your computer.

  2. 2

    Purchase a regular TV tuner if your monitor has S-video, coaxial or RCA inputs. These can be seen at the back of the monitor. S-video should be clearly marked; coaxial is a large round port, and RCA inputs are typically smaller and brightly coloured. If your monitor does not have these inputs, purchase a special TV tuner designed just for computer monitors. If you would like to use the tuner with your computer and monitor, choose an internal TV tuner. If you're using your computer monitor as a television on its own, select a stand-alone external tuner. Install the internal TV in your computer, if applicable.

  3. 3

    Connect the TV tuner to the monitor with the proper cable. Select S-video as the connection option if both your tuner and monitor support it. Choose RCA component video as your next option. Use coaxial only if your monitor and tuner do not have the aforementioned connections. If your monitor has none of these connections, use a standard VGA cable to connect the tuner and monitor.

  4. 4

    Connect the tuner's audio outputs to your monitor's speakers. If your monitor has no speakers directly attached, connect external speakers to the TV tuner. This can usually be achieved using regular audio or RCA cable.

  5. 5

    Install an HD antenna high on a wall if you will be picking up free over-the-air television signals with your monitor. If you will be using satellite or cable TV with your monitor, simply plug the satellite or cable set top box into the tuner using RCA or coaxial cables. Then connect the tuner directly to the monitor.

  6. 6

    Set your tuner to the channel you use to pick up television stations. If you receive free over-the-air television, this channel will be 3 or 4. If you have satellite or cable TV, this station is determined by your television service provider. Check the documentation that came with your system to determine which channel to set the tuner on. You will probably need to change channels using the satellite or cable box rather than the TV tuner.

Tips and warnings

  • As of February 17, 2009, all over-the-air analogue television signals will have ceased. It is important that you do not purchase an analogue tuner for your computer if you plan to use over-the-air signals. When in doubt, ask the salesperson if the tuner you're considering purchasing is analogue or digital.
  • If your satellite or cable is an analogue service, get an analogue tuner.

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