Ask LH: What Should I Do With My Old Flat-Screen TV?

Dear Lifehacker, A simple question: what can I do with a 32-inch spare flat-screen TV? Thanks, Bigger Screen

Dear Bigger Screen,

Broadly speaking, there's no shortage of possibilities presuming the TV is working. Older CRT TVs can be a challenge to redeploy: they're relatively power-hungry and take up a lot of space, so it's no surprise to see them stuck on the side of the road during council cleanups even after people have happily liberated mattresses of frankly dubious provenance. But a newer TV has several happier options if it's working. (If it isn't, contact your local council to find out what electronics recycling schemes it has in place.)

The biggest restriction on potential reuse is probably the number and type of inputs the device has. If it's an older model with RCA inputs rather than HDMI, you might have trouble connecting some newer kit to it. But there's still plenty of possibilities:

  • The obvious one is to rig it up as a secondary TV in a kitchen or study. If you can't get decent reception, it could still be a useful playback device for an el-cheapo DVD player or hard drive recorder. (As an older TV, it's not likely to have any networking options, but that doesn't matter if the player connected to it does.)
  • If you're particularly into gaming, then using the TV as a dedicated games screen can save household arguments along the lines of MasterChef versus Gears of War.
  • If you really don't want the television, then giving it away is a sensible option. Note that many charity shops don't like receiving electrical goods, so don't just dump it in front of the local branch on a Sunday afternoon. Try listing it with your local Freecycle group.
  • As ever, there's always the option of selling it on eBay — though I wouldn't assume you could make a fortune given how cheaply you can buy a brand-new 32" TV these days.

Any other ideas to add to the list, gentle readers?

Cheers Lifehacker


    I got a 32" Sony Bravia LCD during a council pickup week in a rich suburb, greatest find ever. If the poster really doesn't have any use for it, posting it on their facebook or their local freecycle group will see it gone in a matter or hours. It's surprising how many people still have CRT TVs.

      Very lucky find there.

      The streets of my suburb were littered with CRT monitors and TVs. On the drive to the train station the morning everything was due to be picked up, I noticed that someone had apparently gone by and dropped all of them, so they were completely useless.

    I had this problem last year, my 32" had suffered from some weird issues that affected the image (hard to describe, but it looked almost like a water stain on about 1/3 of the screen), so I replaced it with a shiny new 40" TV that came with a home theater system.

    Originally, I was going to sell the old screen but it was going to be too much hassle to get a decent price for it thanks to the damage. After it sat around for a few weeks, I decided to see if I could make use of it as a second TV in my bedroom.

    The time it spent sitting around unused seemed to cure most of the issues with the screen (although it is still faintly there if you look for it), but otherwise it is a very serviceable TV.

    So the old PS2 got plugged into it and I now have a TV and DVD player set up in my bedroom, letting me watch Arrested Development as I go to sleep.

      The water-like stain is probably from the built-in speaker or anything that emmits a magnetic field, which disrupts the display panel. Disconnect power from the TV for a while, over-night, and this will reduce the stain effect.

    Angus, I'm deeply upset that you missed a perfectly good opportunity for a Master Chef versus Master Chief joke.

    I'm planning on repurposing my old TV at work, for a NOC display.

      Now you've pointed it out, I'm quite upset with myself as well!

    Assuming it has HDMI, buy a Digital PC Monitor to HDMI cable (should only be about $20 at the most) and you can use it as a computer monitor.

    This also assumes that you can sit far back enough from it to prevent yourself getting eye strain :D

    create a virtual window. like this;

    create an arcade machine with SNEs emulator

    It's funny how fast technology is growing...
    We used to say "Old fatback TV"(I still do).

    Retrofit it to your fridge - then you'll be the latest person on your block to have one of those equally awesome and useless technology enabled whitegoods.

    that an fantastic idea Stewart Walker, even i was looking for some good use of my old flat tv but was unable to do so. i found flattest tv online and got these information i think i will make a good use of it.


    I've always wanted to have a large second monitor off to one side/mounted on a wall with persistent data, emails open, social networking, to-do list, large clock, calendar all in one etc.

    I've got my 60cm Sony Trinitron on eBay with STB. It's up to $1.50 so far. yay. At least it is better than breaking my back lugging it out to the curb for collection.

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