HDTV monitor for new 2012 mac mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by humblpirate, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. humblpirate macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England

    I'm looking for the best 32-42" HDTV to use as a monitor for the new 2012 base mac mini (arriving Monday!)

    I have been looking at samsung led 1080p 32-40" screens. Are there any specifications other than HDMI that I should think about? I keep seeing differing refresh rates, can that be important?

    I've been reading that it can be difficult to use such a large screen as a computer monitor. What is the optimal size really?

    1. I will be sitting 2-4' away from screen depending on what my preference is when using as a computer. 10' away when using as tv.

    2. This is for my new computer, I am replacing my 13" Macbook (2006) with a mac mini and need a screen.

    3. I will be watching some movies on DVD and some tv through hulu/netflix.

    4. The display will always be connected to a mac mini, will be used as a computer monitor as well. I mostly read articles and surf the net. I use MS Office and look at graphs and such. I definitely need the text to be sharp.

    5. I will not be using bluray and will not be using cable (at this time, maybe in the future). Simply a computer screen now.

    6. I am looking for the best bang for my buck. Would like to spend less than $500 on a 32-40" screen.

    7. I do not want 3D. I do not need a smart tv.

    8. I can control the lighting in the room.

    9. $300-$600 dollar budget.

    10. I will sit a couple feet away when at a desk and about 10 feet away when using it as my tv.

    I have read about problems with the set up concerning the menu on the TV and the display settings on the mac. Any tips on that as well would be great. I am somewhat technically saavy, but generally I like things to just work (hence loving macs).

    Thank you for your help. I would appreciate a few suggestions for different TVs or things to look for. I am planning on buying through Best Buy so that if I need to return it, I can do that with ease.
  2. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England

    I would like to be able to browse the internet, read some articles, type some emails, work with excel (those sorts of things), when using it as a computer.

    I have been stuck on the idea of using an HDTV as a monitor because I would also like to use it as a TV. However, if it really isn't feasible to do the above things on a TV screen, lets say a 36", then which 27" monitors should I be looking at? Same uses, but less TV watching, probably.
  3. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England
    Samsung 37" led 1080p

    I'm thinking about a Samsung 37" LED.

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Samsung...4.p?id=1218672939118&skuId=5612094&st=samsung 37" tv&cp=1&lp=1

    Was the Best Buy associate correct in directing me to LED screens? I have a lot of faith in Samsung as a brand, would I be sacrificing anything by picking a less expensive version of this tv? Its $500 and the 32" is only $350. I don't know if $150 more is worth it for 5" more.
  4. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England
    Samsung 32" LED 1080p HDTV 5000 series (UN32EH5000)

    So I bought a Samsung 32" LED 1080p HDTV 5000 series (UN32EH5000) to try it out after receiving no responses on this forum.

    I have them connected by a Monster brand HDMI-HDMI cable, 8'. Having done a lot of research on these forums already, I have it connected in the HDMI-1 port, I have the source set to PC.

    I have a pretty good picture but the text just isn't quite there. I have played with the "sharpness" settings, but the lower I set it the more blurry it gets.

    What can I do?

    Should I try a different kind of cable set up?

  5. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012
    I'm sorry I can't help you but I'm really interested in the results you get. I want to put a hi def tv in my office to use in client presentations, including using interactive spreadsheets. I've been holding off because I haven't been able to see one in action hooked to a computer. I'm concerned that with the text large enough to be read from 8 feet away the resolution will be bad.

    Please keep posting your results.
  6. Poki macrumors 65816


    Mar 21, 2012
    I know, I know, it's a bit over your budget - but: If you want to do anything serious with your Mac Mini, do yourself a favor and buy a cheap 21 - 24" computer screen AND a TV (and, if you don't want a HDMI cable between the Mini and the TV, a Apple TV). So much better for working, even if it's just writing a short story or something like this.
  7. kinnyboy macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2004
    I'm also interested in your results with this as i'm considering doing the same with a new Mini and 32 HDTV. It's a shame more people haven't commented on this as im sure many of them will be using a similar setup.
  8. Voch, Oct 29, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012

    Voch macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2006
    For years I've used my 2Ghz Core 2 Duo Mac mini on my now six-year-old Sharp LC-32SH12U 32" TV. This older mini doesn't have native HDMI; I tried a DVI-to-HDMI adapter but the software adjustment on that mini was either way overscanned or underscanned (and the TV lacks the "pixel-for-pixel" or "dot-for-dot mode" to make the adjustment itself...newer TVs are likely more computer-friendly). So I used VGA (and SwitchResX to force the 1366x768 resolution) and a headphone cable for sound and it worked great for TV shows and occasional surfing (watching the web-only extended Daily Show interviews, for example). For input I'm using the Apple wireless keyboard and recently added the Magic Trackpad to make surfing easier (before that I used MouseKeys for when I needed to move the cursor).

    I got the itch to finally upgrade that mini this week to the base 2.5Ghz i5 Ivy Bridge model. The TV is now driven via HDMI (the overscan slider adjustment works great on my TV) but there's a few small quirks that I'm living with (see below), but generally I like it more than VGA...better colors (might be a placebo effect because I *know* I'm using HDMI) and fewer cables and adjustments (not running a separate audio cable and no volume adjustment with digital audio, and no more SwitchResX).

    Quirks: I had to crank down the TV's sharpness to smooth out video and text (otherwise it looked blocky). When watching a video with VLC, I switch away from the HDMI channel (INPUT5 on my TV) and switch back VLC drops the audio (there's talk of this on the VLC forum...the workaround is to reselect the audio track and all is fine); I assume HDMI is two-way and the Mac or VLC is told to shut off audio/video when I switch away from INPUT5...not a big deal.

    Also, I have other users set up on the Mac so I can remote to as a separate VNC session from my MBP, so if I can use the machine as a computer (handy for background tasks like downloads, etc., that I don't want my MBP to do) while watching videos on it.
  9. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    That's odd, text looks fine for me on a 1080 TV. Is it connected at 1920x1080? You want that output from the Mini.

    Sharpness settings in TVs are often horrible. You generally want them set at the least change, whatever that might be. So if it is a scale from -10 thru +10, 0 is close to the setting you want, maybe not exactly. This shouldn't be any different for text from a computer. Note, this may not be the setting the TV was set at when you first got it.

    And I would start by shutting off any extra fancy picture settings like:
    Noise filter
    Clear motion rate
    Anything that says "Plus" in it

    If you decide you like some of those, fine. But start with them off is my recommendation.
  10. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012
    What size TV are you using and what is the viewing distance?

    I have a 42" 720p hooked up to a mini at home and the text isn't good enough to use for presentation at the office. I have a TBD at the office, so I'm looking for something significantly bigger that still displays text pretty good.
  11. jack92029, Oct 29, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012

    jack92029 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Sitting 2-4' Away


    According to the above article a 24" HDTV or Monitor (what I ordered for use with my Mini) is the ideal size for 2-4' distance. :D

    A 32" will probably be blurry.

    The 10.1" iPad is enjoyed by 100,000's of people who probably hold it 12-18" away. I doubt that you need 3X the screen size to view it from 2X the distance.

    Hope you can return the HDTV for full refund ;)
  12. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England

    Yep, the mini is set at 1080p. The sharpness scale is 0-100, and I think I get my best results from the 50 mark, which is probably "0" on other TVs. The text is definitely getting better.

    I found the "digital noise filter" setting but I cannot access it. It is set to "Auto", but I have no control over it. That option is greyed out. I'm going to contact Samsung to see if there is a way to access those options.
  13. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England
    TV settings

    By changing the source from PC to anything else I was able to access some of the other settings. I don't notice any extreme difference by turning off the digital noise level and the led motion plus, but overall the text seems to be getting better with each thing I do.
  14. santos. macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    In my experience Samsung TVs handle PC signals weirdly until you change one specific setting. Try this... Plug the HDMI cable into HDMI 1 on the TV. On the source list on your Samsung highlight HDMI 1 and press tools, then change the name of HDMI 1 to say "PC." That should set scaling to 1:1 and make everything a whole lot nicer.


    Just saw you already did that... That was all it took for me. Sorry, good luck!
  15. santos. macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    For reference, I just fired up my Samsung and checked the settings. Under display on the mini I have it set to scaled-1080p, refresh rate 60hz (NTSC), and underscan set to off. These were most likely the defaults, but changing away from any of them results in a drastically different picture, one which is blurry and clearly unlike a computer monitor. The above settings however, combined with setting HDMI 1 to PC in the Samsung settings, have resulted in a display with clarity and sharpness (though perhaps note color reproduction) that matches a 1920x1080 monitor, so it is achievable. I have the UN55D6000, and from the couch (~10') I can read even the smallest fonts with ease (as long as I have my glasses on!). I would definitely keep the PC setting on the Samsung and play with it from there. If you have any specific questions let me know, I'll keep it hooked up for a while.
  16. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Mine is a projector with a 90" screen at about 12'. Both text and video look great for me from theMini. 720 TVs aren't great for PC usage, IME. I always recommend 1080 models if any computer use is expected. But you should still be able to get it on-blurry, just with much fewer pixels. It seems like some TVs just don't work well with PCs.
  17. LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
    Some tv's won't handle sharp images and text so well, but this also applies to just how far away from said tv you're sitting.

    Personally I'd go with a cheap 24" monitor and a decent 37" lcd tv.
  18. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I ran my Mac Mini on a 42" TV using DVI-HDMI converter for a while. With Bluetooth mouse & keyboard, I used a portable table & sat about 6 feet away. Worked pretty well. I ended up getting Apple TV for that set & moved the Mini into a different room with a normal 21" 1600x1200 monitor on a desk, it's a lot more comfortable and the Apple TV does everything that I need in terms of media streaming from the Mac.

    I guess the only thing I'd suggest is back away from the TV a bit, if you're 2-4 feet away from a screen that big the pixel density is just too low for clarity.
  19. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England
    What does the text look like? Does the font show up as thin as it does on a computer monitor? How large are you displaying the text? Did you change any settings on the TV (other than the source as PC)?


    Also, is it possible that I should have gotten a bigger TV? I'm seeing posts from people with tvs in the 40-55" range ... is it possible that they have better luck with the resolution because they aren't trying to display the text as small?

    Just a random thought?
  20. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I would guess that they have better luck with the resolution because they are sitting farther away.

    all 1080p HDTVs have exactly the same number of pixels 1920 x 1080. Going to a bigger screen means that each pixel must get bigger, and you need to be farther away before they look like a single picture instead of a series of dots.

    Personally, I wouldn't want a monitor larger than 32" on my desk (2-3 feet viewing distance), because I would have to turn my head to scan from edge to edge. Maybe you have better peripheral vision than I do.

    For anything larger than 24" at desktop distance, I would want higher resolution than 1080p, again because of the pixel density at that size and distance. Higher resolution monitors are very pricy - the Apple cinema displays are really priced pretty well ($999) for their size and resolution.

    It's cool that you can easily connect an HDTV to a Mac now using HDMI, but it doesn't make a TV a good monitor. It just makes the Mac a really powerful set top box at TV viewing distance.
  21. santos., Oct 30, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012

    santos. macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    I haven't changed any font sizes or settings on the mini, nor any settings on the Samsung besides the input name. Color temperature is a bit off but it's fine for my purposes. Attached is a photo of the screen displaying my earlier post, if it helps.

    The text is very legible. I will say that from less than a few feet the pixels are so large that it becomes less clear, but this is the same as any monitor, and from a distance that makes the pixels no longer discernible the fonts are very clear at any normal size.

    As soon as I switched the name of the input to PC on the Samsung it was like I went from watching a youtube video of a computer screen to an actual monitor, I am disappointed it wasn't as simple for you. Have you tried attaching another computer to see how it fairs?

    Attached Files:

  22. santos. macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    Few more things...

    Do you notice any change when switching the name to PC? Because with it off my display is scaled wrong, everything is jaggy, and fonts are definitely much less clear. Also, I have the 2011 mini with the 3000 graphics, not sure if that could have something to do with it.
  23. humblpirate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2012
    New England
    Source: PC

    Oh yeah, of course. There was a huge change from any other source type to PC. It actually looks pretty good, I just think that the font is a little off ... but I may have reached the limits of what an HDTV can do.
  24. NeuroticNomad macrumors newbie


    Apr 3, 2007
    1080p Screens for watching Mac-based TV

    From an old blog post on one of my old websites:

    Whether it’s a TV or a computer monitor, your screen should have a native resolution of 1920 x 1080.

    Pitfall #1: Buying a TV
    Not all “1080p” TVs are 1920 x 1080. Some TVs “support 1080p” but have a 1366 x 768 screen. These TVs “support 1080p” signals, but scale the 1080p picture down to 720p then back up to 768p – resulting in a soft, muddy picture. Check the native resolution, because that’s what you’ll actually be looking at.

    Pitfall #2: Buying a Monitor
    Not all “1080p” monitors are 1920 x 1080. Some are 1920 x 1200. Like TVs, these monitors support 1080p signals but stretch the image 10% too tall when connected to DVD Players, Blu-Ray-Players, Netflix Boxes, and video game consoles – making everyone look sickly thin with elongated heads. These are 16:10 monitors, and you want 16:9.

    Some 16:9 aspect ratio monitors have resolutions higher than 1920 x 1080, but as long as it’s 16:9, your picture will be the correct shape. Resolutions higher than 1920 x 1080 are great for computers but wasted on TV/Movies because nothing is distributed at higher resolutions than that.

    Refresh Rate
    While showing 1080p, it should have a refresh rate of at least one of these: 60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz, 480Hz, etc. (Movie buffs like 24p and 48p modes, but the screens that output them are as uncommon as the commercial content encoded at that framerate.) Beware TVs that claim 240Hz on the box but reveal in the fine print that it only does 240Hz in 480p mode and does 1080p at 30Hz. Check the 1080p refresh rate, because that’s what you’ll actually be looking at.

    After resolution and refresh rate, the next important thing is ports.

    An increasing amount of copy-protected content requires an HDCP-compliant port, such as HDMI and DisplayPort, or else it degrades the picture. Neither DVI nor Component connectors are HDCP-compliant, so if you’re connecting anything to your TV with DVI or component, you aren’t looking at full 1080p as often as you think.

    To get the most from Online Television, your screen should have at least one (1) HDMI 1.3b or higher port, or one (1) DisplayPort/MiniDisplayPort.

    More ports can be better but if you’re getting all four basic pieces you’ll only need one on the screen.

    A Word on Built-In Online TV Services:
    If you’re going to do at least 2 of the 4 pieces, and one of them is a screen, chances are the other piece will do Netflix Streaming so it’s (next to) pointless to have it built-in to your screen. It needlessly complicates the menus and prevents us from tossing the remote in a drawer and forgetting about it.

    A Word on Dynamic Contrast Ratio:
    Anything that passes all the other tests is going to be good enough. Don’t go broke chasing a bigger number spread.

    That’s it
    Your screen doesn’t need anything else. It doesn’t need a tuner or speakers or Picture-In-Picture or a fancy remote. It just needs to be able to show you the best visual representation of what 1080p content can offer.
  25. jack92029 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    HDTV - Samsung SyncMaster T24B350

    I recently received a Samsung SyncMaster T24B350 (24") from Costco for $199 (regular price is $289).

    This a 1920 x1080 monitor HDTV combo with 5W speakers built in and Samsungs great color rendition. I connected a HDMI cable between the Monitor and the computer and it all works.

    Of course, you need to connect the TV to the cable before it reaches the modem for the TV. and then the HDMI cable for the computer.

    This is a wonderful Combo (TV & Internet) for less than $200.

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