Can you turn an old monitor into a cheap TV?

When did you get your first computer? It’s probably been 30 years or more. In that time you could have had as many as 10 computers. But how many monitors have you had? It’s a strange fact that monitors last longer than computers. It’s not that they’re better built… it’s that monitor technology has been pretty stable for about 20 years. Monitors get bigger, but that’s really been the biggest change. The connectors have also changed but only once in the last decade.

What this means is you probably have an old monitor in the garage gathering dust. You don’t know what to do with it. What if you could turn it into a TV?

Here’s what you’ll need

This retro bit of kit is called a “converter box.” They were common a decade ago when people were trying to get more life out of their old TVs. It’s basically the part of the TV that tunes the signal. Solid Signal is one of the last companies that still sells them, and while your TV probably doesn’t need one, they could work great for that monitor. There’s only two other things you’ll need:

Your monitor needs an HDMI port. Pretty much every monitor made in the last decade has one. This is what connects to the converter box. There are adapters for older monitors, but at that point you might have to question your level of financial commitment.

If your monitor doesn’t have a speaker, you’ll need one of those too. Good news though, if your monitor has an HDMI port then it probably has a speaker. Or, you could have an old pair of speakers from an antique PC. You always knew you’d use it. If you need a small speaker, try this one from Solid Signal.

Why not just buy another TV?

Yeah, small TVs are cheap. But if you were going to go that way you would have already done it. Making use of old electronics instead of recycling them makes sense, and it’ll make you feel smart to make it work. It’s a great way to get free TV.

Oh, and you’ll need an antenna

The TV won’t get signal by itself, but luckily there’s one place where you can get the best selection of antennas. A TV antenna will give you dozens of free channels and Solid Signal has all the major brands. If you don’t know which antenna you need, get a recommendation from the professionals… I mean real technician not some robot app which is loaded up with pre-filled responses. That’s something you can only get from Solid Signal.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.