Lamont Wood: Why Monitor Size Matters — A Lot

Written by Lamont Wood

Monitor size matters, says Lamont Wood. It matters a lot. Here’s his advice for maximizing your big screen for use as the best monitor you can imagine. — Monitor size matters, says our Lamont Wood. It matters a lot. Let him count the ways … Bigger is better.

At least, that’s the case when you’re using a 24-inch TV as a computer monitor.

You see, I had a three-year-old 24-inch Toshiba 60hz LED-LCD HDTV that was no longer being used as a bedroom TV. I saw that it had a PC monitor connection in the back.

So I unplugged my old 19-inch 1440×900 flat-panel LCD monitor that I thought was so great when I used it to replace a CRT back in 2007 and plugged in the TV instead.

I used the remote control to set it to PC mode at 1920×1080.

It worked. The result is like having a desktop billboard. Reading is stress-free, and you’ll discover previously-overlooked details in program icons. If your eyes are tired, make the text of what you’re reading or editing as big as you like. At 100 percent zoom, two Microsoft Word documents are easily and comfortably displayed side by side.

I was working on a book project that partly involved transcribing handwritten 168-year-old transcripts of several U.S. Army courtmartials. Following a tradition still adhered to, the transcripts had text on both sides of the pages, and by now the ink had thoroughly bled through. Despite the fine hardwriting and impeccable spelling, I had to puzzle it out line by line. The national archives had sent me (at 80 cents per page) scans in PDF format, and with the new screen I could blow up problem text as much as was needed.

At one point I saw that a defendant, a captain, was complaining that he had not been able to (what?) with the enemy, and (what?) clearly had four letters. I dissected  it with some anticipation — the language of the proceedings had been strictly G-rated, despite the work topic being a combat debacle. I felt deflated when the new monitor revealed the word. The defendant had not been able to “cope” with the enemy. Cope? No wonder he ended up on trial.

Meanwhile and back to the monitor, there’s always a downside. In this case, the big one is that you’ll want to use the available controls on the unit to turn the backlight level down — and I mean way down. Ten percent may be adequate.

In my specific case I settled on 20 percent.

The default 100 percent setting assumes you will be watching football from across the room. Using the TV as a computer monitor with that setting is equivalent to putting a blazing billboard in front of your face. Aside from wasting electricity, it’s a great way to trigger migraine headaches. You’ll want a subdued glow.

Also, there was no on-off button switch that I could find. Yours may be different.

So I have to keep the remote control around to turn it on. When the computer is turned off the TV notices a lack of signal and soon shuts down. This also applies to sleep mode. When the computer wakes from sleep mode the screen does eventually come back on, but for whatever reason it takes several minutes. So I just use the remote to turn it back on.

Additionally, the pedestal of most TV sets is simply designed to hold the TV upright atop a piece of furniture and these pedestals are not usually even two inches high. With the TV sitting atop a desk this means you’ll be hunched looking down, since most action occurs at the bottom of the screen. So you’ll need to set the TV on top of something that lifts it several inches above the desk. A 24-inch TV will weigh eight or ten pounds, so you’ll want something with appropriate strength.

For, I’m .

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Lamont Wood is a senior editor at He’s been covering tech trade and mainstream publications for almost three decades now, and he’s a household name in Hong Kong and China. His tech reporting has appeared in innumerable tech journals, including the original BYTE (est. 1975). Follow href=””>Lamont’s posts on Google here — email him at and follow him @LAMONTwood .


  • 24″ 1080p monitors have become the standard around my office, wherever they fit the furniture. Excellent no-frills units (from Asus, Viewsonic, etc.) can regularly be had for less than $150 online. If space allows, there’s really no reason to go any smaller.