Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Z Tip: How to Re-Purpose Your Spare Monitor

This year alone, over five hundred thousand computer monitors will be replaced with newer, shinier, larger, higher resolution models. They will go from YouTube and World of Warcraft displaying glory to closeted, dust covered disgrace; banished to the hell fire of obsolescence. Some may even find themselves perched on top of a dumpster with a crude hand drawn sign reading "*Free* Still Works". Some will find their fate in said dumpster; never to see the light of a desk lamp again.

If you have one of these monitors sitting in your closet or waiting at the front door for garbage day, we have caught you just in time! This installment of On Z Tip is going to show you how to sap a little more life out of that monitor by giving it a new function that you just may not have considered. Think of us as the ASPCA for outdated tech.

Turn it into a television!!

There are three televisions in the average home. If you currently have less than three, this trick will get you closer to the status quo. If you already have three televisions in your home, prepare to be the above average citizen your mother always bragged you were. And you'll do it for a quarter of what a small LCD TV costs.

You can convert your discarded computer monitor into a fully functioning boob tube with a few small and easy to purchase components. Here is the recipe:
  1. External TV tuner with VGA output (VGA input is standard on most computer monitors)
  2. VGA cable (we recommend 6ft for adequate space)
  3. Cheap computer speakers (expensive if you wish)
Connect your cable/satellite or antenna (get cable already!) coaxial cable to the external TV tuner, connect the speakers to the 3.5mm  speaker output on the TV tuner, and link the TV tuner to the monitor via VGA cable and WHAMMO! TV for under $75. And you saved your poor monitor for an uncertain fate. Good for you! Captain Planet would be proud.

Most external TV tuners will have inputs RCA or S-video inputs. You can use these inputs to connect a DVD  player, video game console, iPod/portable video player (with recommended cable---see manufacturer), camcorder, and anything else that outputs audio and video through analog signal. Keep in mind that analog to digital conversion (analog to VGA) is not always as smooth as you'd like, so expect some minor picture degradation. As long as your expectations are in check, we think you'll be happy with your conversion/recycling project.

We're Byte Down, and that was On Z Tip.

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