Introduction: Use an LCD Monitor As a TV Without a Computer
LCD TVs have come down in price, but not enough. If you have a cable box, than your tv tuner is in the that box, not in the tv, so then why buy a tv with a tuner you will never use? Believe it or not you can save almost $200 when you buy a computer monitor instead of a tv.
Step 1: Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Things
To start, make sure that your cable or satellite provider offers a cable box with DVI or HDMI output. Next, you need speakers. Any kind will do, but it needs to accept RCA audio cables (or digital, whatever kind of sound cable your cable box uses). I used a small sony stereo with a remote. If you picked a cable box with an HDMI output you will need an HDMI to DVI Cable (If your monitor has HDMI input you don't need that, but most do not).
Step 2: Choosing a Display
Now for the most important step, choosing a display. There are a few requirements for the monitor. First, it MUST be HDCP Compliant (High Definition Content Protection, think TV DRM). Next, it must have a DVI or HDMI input. It doesn't have to, but I recommend getting a widescreen monitor. Also, make sure that it can display at Least 720p (use This image to make sure). I used a dell E207WFP which I will be using as an example for setup. It can display up to 720p and is cheap with a picture rivaling most high end HDTVs.
Step 3: Setting It All Up
The exact cable setup will be different for everyone, but the diagram below is the basic idea
Now the setup. If you don't see a picture on your display do not panic! Your cable box is probably trying to display a resolution which your monitor can not display. Find out how to enter HD setup mode, or change the maximum resolution (for Explorer cable boxes turn off the box and hold guide and info at the same time). After you find the instructions, Follow the them to change the maximum resolution to the resolution of your monitor (most likely 720p). Also, if the cable box says your monitor is not HDCP compliant, either you bought the wrong kind of monitor, or it is like my setup which flashes that message everytime I turn on the monitor, but only for half a second or so.
Step 4: Other Things
You can wall mount your monitor, tiger direct has a good mount, but it doesn't swivel. I got it, and it was easy to setup and install. Also you can connect your computer to the monitor for an extra usage. I also chose to connect the power cable of my monitor to my cable box so I could turn it off and on by turning my cable box off and on via remote. This may not be a feature on all cable boxes. My monitor also happens to return to its last state when it is plugged in (So if I turn the cable box off when it was on, when I turn the cable box on again, the monitor will turn on). This also may not be true of your monitor, but it is easy to test. Just leave your monitor on and unplug it, if it turns back on when you plug it in, then this trick will work.
Step 5: Downsides and Conclusion
So far there are only two downsides. One, you are limited to the consoles you can attach, but a switch or a cable box with inputs will fix that. So far, the combination of my cable box and computer have allowed me to watch pretty much anything on my display.
Also, you can not turn the TV on and off with a remote unless your cable box features a built in plug (or you buy a remote control surge protector, I think Belkin makes one). Everything else (volume, channel, etc) is on the remote which controls my cable box.
So, if you want an LCD TV without the price, and can deal with some minor inconveniences, this is a great option but if you want a lot of inputs, 1080p and a huge 50" TV this is probably not for you.
Check me out on flickr if you liked the project!