How to Convert a VGA Monitor to a Television

by Jeff Grundy

Many modern computer monitors resemble standard televisions. However computer monitors do not have the tuner devices needed to receive broadcast signals over the air, unlike TVs. Instead, VGA monitors receive video signals via a direct cable connection from a computer. If you don’t want to purchase a new TV, you can use your VGA computer monitor to receive and display standard TV broadcasts.

Using Computer as a TV Tuner

Insert the installation disc for the USB TV tuner into computer's optical disc drive. Wait for the TV tuner setup wizard screen to appear automatically. Click “Setup” or “Install” in the TV tuner setup wizard window, and then follow the prompts to install the tuner driver and TV player software. Restart your computer if prompted.

Plug the USB TV tuner into a free USB port on your computer, then wait a few seconds for Windows to configure the TV tuner using the driver you installed from the setup disc. After Windows configures the TV tuner successfully, a small confirmation box appears at the bottom of the screen.

Connect the cable from your cable box or TV antenna to the coaxial port on the USB TV tuner. Tighten the coaxial cable with the ring connector, if it has one.

Open Windows Media Center or the TV player application you installed from the disc. Click “Watch TV,” "Watch Live TV, “View TV Channels” or another similar link in the player application. Press the up and down arrow buttons on the remote control that came with the USB TV tuner or use the mouse to click the channel buttons in the player program to browse available programs in your area.

Click the “Full Screen” button in the player application to watch the selected TV program on your VGA monitor. Sound from the TV broadcast plays over the speakers connected to your computer.


  • Generally speaking, most USB TV tuners perform reasonably well and offer good picture quality when connected to a cable box or antenna. However, manufacturers such as Hauppauge and Pinnacle have a good reputation for making quality tuner and video devices that are affordable. Your local Radio Shack store usually has TV tuners from one or both manufacturers in stock.
  • Windows Media Center and some other TV player applications enable you to record TV programs directly to your computer without special capture hardware (link in Resources).
  • Depending on your current media setup, you may also be able to purchase an external TV tuner box to turn your monitor into a TV without using a computer.

Items you will need

  • TV antenna or cable signal with coaxial connection
  • USB TV tuner

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images