Goodbye TV licence — The best big monitors to replace your TV

There are several monitors and smart displays available in South Africa that don’t require a TV licence to buy or own, but still offer the big screen viewing experience of a TV.

Over the last few years, many households in the country have shifted from watching broadcasted content to primarily using online video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Showmax.

If you only use these services to watch content, your display actually does not require a built-in TV tuner to receive the analogue or digital signals used to transmit free-to-air channels such as SABC 1, SABC 2, S3, and E-tv.

This hardware is also necessary for a display to be classified as a TV, and is specifically named as a requirement for the set to be subject to TV licence payment.

Unfortunately, for those looking to save on the annual R265 licence fee, or who want to avoid taking one out altogether, most TVs sold in the country still come with built-in tuners.

While they tend to be more expensive than TVs with comparable sizes, monitors that are used as displays for PCs are a possible alternative.

Many monitors come with components and features which eliminate the need to link them to a computer and bring them closer to the standalone capabilities of a smart TV.

Some boast Wi-Fi connectivity or an Ethernet port to connect to the Internet directly, as well as operating systems that can play media and run streaming apps natively.

In addition, many models also offer built-in speakers.

Mecer’s smart monitors, which are also referred to as smart panels, are good examples of these.

Ranging from 43 to 75 inches in size and boasting up to 4K resolutions, these displays offer a smart TV-like viewing experience with all the advantages of a monitor, including lower response times for gaming.

Samsung is another manufacturer which has started offering smart monitors of up to 43 inches that feature HD and 4K resolutions. In South Africa, it currently only sells the 27-inch and 32-inch variants.

Aside from the other TV-like features, these monitors also include a remote control for navigating around menus and changing settings.

The Samsung M7 Smart Monitor boasts two HDMI, three USB-A, and one USB-C port.

Monitors do not have to be “smart” to replace the functionalities of your TV, however.

With the wide variety of ports available on most monitors, you can connect a media player and external sound system to complete your entertainment setup.

Below is a selection of both standard and smart monitors, with displays of 32 inches or larger.

Curved and ultra-wide monitors are specifically excluded, as these are better suited to gaming or to for use while sitting closer to the display.

Philips 32-inch Full HD Monitor – R4,799

Mecer 43-inch Full HD Smart Monitor – R5,899

Samsung 32-inch Full HD Smart Monitor – R6,199

Samsung 32-inch 4K Monitor – R8,718

Mecer 55-inch 4K Smart Monitor – R9,645

Mecer 65-inch 4K Smart Monitor – R11,698

Dell 55-inch 4K Monitor – R15,829

Dell 55-inch Monitor

Mecer 75-inch 4K Smart Panel – R15,384

Now read: Digital TV migration in South Africa – behind schedule, but happening

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Goodbye TV licence — The best big monitors to replace your TV