26-inch monitors for cable tv?

My cable box does a fine job of splitting the signal it gets, and sending just the one channel that I want to the television, on channel 3. It even adjusts the volume for me. My cable box even has a socket to plug the tv into, and the remote control has a button which controls whether or not any current is flowing to that socket.

So what do I need a full-blown television for? I certainly do not need a channel tuner or remote control, and with my cable box I don’t need a volume control, or even an on-off switch! All I need is a screen and a speaker. I wouldn’t even need a single antenna jack, since the cable box has separate “video out” and “audio out” jacks.

I would think that this would simplify the manufacture of such a device quite a bit. It doesn’t need the fine detail and tiny pixel size of a computer monitor. It’s just a stripped down television, and I think I ought to be able to buy one – in a size anywhere between 13 and 29 inches – for a lot less than a regular television costs.

But I have not seen any advertising for such a thing. Perhaps they’d be called monitors, but I’m expecting that it would be less detailed (and less expensive) than something which a computer would require. Also, it would have simple antenna-type jacks, not fancy computer-type 25-pin jobs.

Does anyone know if such a thing exists, and if so, who the manufacturer would be?

They used to exist all the time. They were called RGB or CGA or 40-column monitors. If you check your used computer store you might be able to find one (probably a 13") model. I hooked one up to my VCR and used it for exactly the purpose you’re talking about.

The reason they never caught on was that the resolution wasn’t good enough for reading text in computer applications, and it doesn’t cost much to throw a cheap tuner in there and make a full TV out of it. Maybe when HDTV catches on they’ll try some other computer/TV hybrid.

I wasn’t going to bother mentioning it, but in actual fact, I do have such a 13-inch monitor (which I got around 1985 for my Apple IIe) which I currently use for exactly this purpose, hooked up to my vcr and cable.

I just find it hard to believe that with so many people using various forms of cable tv and vcrs, no market has developed for this. Is a tuner really that cheap? Is the remote control system (both the handheld transmitter and tv-encased received) really that cheap? Wouldn’t this stuff easily take $50 to $75 off the price of a tv set?

Think of the less-complicated instruction manual, and the fewer things that would bring it back for repairs!

I can’t see how, given that it’s possible to buy a cheap VCR which includes a tuner for about $75.


Thank you, torq. I now feel like a total idiot.

Let’s let this thread die mercifully. Thank you all.


Just before this thread dies altogether, I just thought I’d let you know that you can buy video monitors that don’t have tuners or speakers. They are not very popular though because they actually cost more than your typical TV set. They are predominantly for high fidelity “nuts” who are really, really into home theater. I knew a guy like this. He spent about $5K on a monitor (I think it was a 35 inch, which was state-of-the-art about 4 or 5 years ago when he bought it). He also spent more than $1K on just the tuner and God knows how much on the surround sound system. The whole setup was in his den and was hidden behind a secret wall that opened up with a remote control (kind of James Bond-ish). I was told by a semi reliable source that the guy had more than $60K in the whole setup which included his stereo system and a 16 track reel recording studio.

One day he invited me over to sit in his leather captain’s chair (that was optimally placed in the room) and watch Blade Runner (while drinking 30 year old scotch and smoking a presumably illegal Cuban cigar)… It was quite impressive, but to be honest, I’ve had more fun sitting in front of my 27 inch Toshiba TV with a beer and a football game… to each his own.

A tip from a former Cable TV tech:


Anything you buy now will be a dinosaur in less than six years. When digital and HDTV become the standard you will be like the guy trying to follow the 1925 World Series on his recently acquired telegraph!

Save your money for the revolution. Don’t be one of those people who have to use converter boxes to change high quality 21st Century broadcasts into an inferior 20th Century picture.

If it’s absolutely necessary to replace an existing TV that’s totally beyond do-it-your-self repair, buy something cheap. In a couple years your 1999, $2000 big screen TV will be worth about as much as that Apple IIC you have in your garage.

Ursa, does that apply to DVD also? I’ve been thinking about getting a DVD player, but I’ve been hesitating because of the HDTV issue.

I disagree with your advice. It doesn’t matter how long you wait, whatever techno-toy you buy will be obsolete in a year. That’s the nature of the business. The best philosophy to adopt is buy what you need today and enjoy the use you get out of it until it ceases to please you sufficiently… then buy the latest and greatest techno-toy… knowing full well that it too will be obsolete within a year.

There is no revolution… only evolution… and it goes on forever.

FWIW, I recently put a Toshiba DVD drive into an aging PC. It plays movies very nicely on a 17’ monitor.



If that’s not a revolution, I don’t know what is. HDTV and the transition from analog to digital broadcasting isn’t just a simple upgrade in picture quality, it’s a whole new technology. In 2006, the tuner in the TV you bought this year WILL NOT be able to receive most TV broadcasts!

I’m not sure. I think the transition will only effect analog tuners and picture tubes, but don’t hold me to that.


I see it, but I don’t believe it. Expecting all consumers to upgrade all of their TV’s in the next 6 years is insane. Expecting all broadcasters to upgrade their equipment, including satellites in that same time frame is even more insane… I really don’t believe that it can happen that fast.

But that’s not really my point. My point is that even if that does happen, that won’t be the end of your ‘revolution’. Change is inevitable and even after such a conversion, there will be more changes a few years down the road that will make large chunks of the population feel the need to upgrade their equipment to take advantage of the very latest in technology. Hence, this is merely one evolutionary step (granted a rather radical one).