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Video Displays: Monitors vs. Televisions

Monitor or television? These displays aren't interchangeable, so know the difference between a monitor and a television when it's time to shop for one.

Most displays comes with a built-in TV tuner (so that you can plug in an antenna or a cable connection and immediately watch TV). This type of display is categorized as a television.

Other displays — for example, many projectors and plasma displays — come without any built-in TV-tuning capabilities. These displays are called monitors or HD-ready displays. In fact, some monitors don’t have a built-in audio speaker, so they don’t offer even a minimal audio capacity. Of course, any home theater worth its salt already has a good audio system, but for casual viewing, such as watching the news, you may not want to fire up your audio system.

The majority of HDTVs sold today are truly HDTVs, with built-in tuners for picking up broadcast and (in most cases) unscrambled cable TV signals. The only HDTVs that typically do not have a built-in TV tuner these days are

  • Front-projection systems

  • Some plasma TVs that are sold as commercial models (such as the ones you see used as digital signs or kiosks in stores, hotels, and airports).

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