We recently wrote about a Mecer smart panel you could buy in South Africa that does not require a TV licence, bringing a strong response from readers.
Readers called for manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Hisense to make smart TVs that did not include TV tuner capabilities – essentially making them smart PC monitors with built-in operating systems.
The Mecer 55-inch UHD LED Smart Panel Monitor we referenced comes with everything you need from a modern TV, and fills the role without a TV tuner.
This includes running Android, a UHD display, built-in speakers, wireless connectivity, multiple HDMI and USB ports, and a remote control.
Importantly, you do not require a TV licence to buy it – as it is not technically a TV. However, it can run Netflix, Showmax, and DStv Now.
Smart panels vs PC monitors
It is important to note that while the Mecer display is not a TV, it is not a PC monitor either.
PC monitors are typically displays without a built-in operating system, speakers, or a remote control.
They can include USB ports, but generally only feature display input ports like HDMI or DisplayPort.
This means that unless you plug a media player like an Android TV box, a gaming console, or a PC into one, it cannot serve any entertainment.
A smart panel, however, packs similar features to a PC monitor – HDMI input and USB ports – but includes an operating system, speakers, and a remote control.
This renders it closer to a TV, minus the ability to receive a traditional broadcast signal such as that used by SABC 1, 2, 3, and eTV.
Neither of the display types require a TV licence, though.
If you are looking to buy a new display and do not want to go the TV route, it is important to keep these differences in mind. Examples of large PC monitors and smart panels are shown below.
Mecer offers a range of smart panels, including 43-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch displays.
The Mecer 65-inch UHD LED Smart Panel Monitor features a UHD panel, Android OS, speakers, HDMI, VGA, RCA, and USB ports. Wireless connectivity, a pedestal stand, and a remote control are also included with the monitor.
The panel’s ability to run without being connected to a PC or media player – thanks to its Android operating system – is what separates it from the likes of a PC monitor.
The 65-inch panel sells for just over R13,000 locally.
While a PC monitor will not run Netflix by itself, it has many applications in the modern living room.
For professionals who use or want a large PC screen, the Dell UHD 43-inch monitor below is an attractive choice. It features a UHD IPS panel, 8ms response time, and multiple display inputs.
When it’s time to stop working and relax, plugging in an Android TV box, or an Apple TV, or leaving your laptop connected turns it into a home theatre (as it features built-in speakers).
The monitor can also be used as a full-time “TV” via a connection to your existing media player, gaming console, or media PC.
The Dell 43-inch UHD display sells for R9,900 locally.