After a few years of upgrading and changing your PC, you’ll probably have quite a collection of used computer parts, monitors, cables, and an abundance of documentation just sitting there waiting to be used. While you might not be able make much use out of your old warranty cards, monitors often sit in neglect at the bottom of a closet until eventually disposed of, donated, or simply forgotten about until the end of time.
There are, however, many ways to put an LCD monitor to good use. Sure, you might not be willing to part with your brand new shiny 30″ LED screen any time soon, but there are other ways to do something interesting with these still-functioning screens.
Here are five ways to put an old LCD monitor to good use.
The one awesome feature about most LCD monitors out there is that they are wall mountable. A relatively inexpensive mounting bracket can be attached to the wall with the monitor itself fastened securely on. With a little ingenuity, you can hide the cables as well, leaving a truly impressive digital picture frame available for everyone to enjoy.
How do you get the pictures to display on the monitor? That part is easy. You can secure a Lenovo Q150 to the back of most LCD monitors fairly easily, which gives you more than enough computing power to handle video playback up to 1080p, photos, and other entertaining options. You can also affix an Apple TV, iPod with video out cable, or other electronic device in much the same way.
If mounting an LCD to the wall isn’t your ideal solution, you can also get away with setting it up in a variety of different places around your home that might benefit from a digital image.
In a world becoming increasingly dominated by laptops, it’s easy to forget just how awesome having two monitors can be. Watching Netflix on one side while vanquishing your enemies in the land of Azeroth on the other is just one example of how having two monitors can be a big difference in the way you enjoy your desktop computing experience.
Sure, your new monitor might be all the rage, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping a few desktop-hogging applications such as instant messengers, IRC, Twitter, calendars, system resource monitors, and other such programs off to the side.
For some applications, including video editing, dual-monitor setups can unlock functionality that just isn’t possible on a single screen.
Ultimately, the best use for old tech may well lie in making it available to those who could really put it to good use. Your old monitor might be a forgotten memory sitting in a closet, but to someone who needs a working computer, it could be an inexpensive way to make that happen.
Goodwill has a great recycling program for computer hardware. Everything from Macs to PCs, monitors, hard drives, keyboards, mice, and even cables can be made available through one of its many stores across the country (and now online). Not only will you be freeing up space in your closet, but you’ll also be helping someone find a job.
Did you know that your digital LCD monitor might actually make a decent television? The cable box made available by your local cable provider might actually be compatible with a monitor by simply connecting through HDMI or a DVI to HDMI adapter. Sure, it might not be the 40″ big screen you’ve always dreamed of, but it very well might work as an extra television in your home office or bedroom. All you need is a good set of external speakers (or an audio-capable HDMI monitor) and you’re all set.
One interesting bonus to using a monitor as a television is that TVs tend to be much pricier than monitors. While they essentially do the same thing, monitors are often priced lower because they do less processing on the signal. Cable boxes handle a lot of this processing already, making monitors a pretty decent companion. Just bear in mind that the volume control on the cable box’s remote won’t necessarily work.
You can also connect a low-cost PC to it and use it in conjunction with iTunes, Netflix, Boxee, Hulu, and one of countless other entertainment systems available for OS X and Windows. Linux systems also make great entertainment hubs.
Selling your old monitor is a great way to save money for an even better gadget down the line. Granted, you won’t receive anywhere close to the amount you paid for it, but you’ll be surprised at how many people will bid on a decent monitor to go with the computer they just won on an eBay auction.
Take photos of your monitor in use, but make sure you’re putting it in good light. You don’t want to take a shot of it from the side because LCDs tend to yellow as you view them off center. Make sure it looks crisp, clear, and bright. These are a few differences that can make or break a sale.
Craigslist is a great option for selling your gear locally. As an added bonus, you won’t lose any money on shipping. Be wary, though: by selling your monitor locally, you’re essentially cutting down your field of potential buyers significantly. Don’t expect to get top dollar for it with a limited field. It’s better to ask for slightly less than you want than a great deal more. Negotiations start with a good deal, not a lousy one.
eBay is a great option if you’re not afraid to take some responsibility for shipping. Monitors are relatively durable, but you’ll need to check with your preferred shipping service to see how much it can set you back. Regardless of whether or not you charge the winner shipping, that amount will be taken from the top of whatever it is you want to get for it. No one will pay a premium plus shipping for a used monitor.
You could also add the monitor to a more appealing auction as a value add. For example, selling an old PC can only get you so far. Throw in that dust-gathering old LCD and you’ve got a sweeter deal that might appeal to a much larger potential buyer pool.
You can also try selling to Gazelle, an old tech buying service that pays top dollar for your old equipment. All you need to do is sign up, tell it what you have and what condition it’s in, and it’ll pay the freight for you to ship it. After the quality has been confirmed by its team, you’ll receive your money. It’s really the easiest way to get rid of old gear.
No matter what you decide to do with that old LCD, remember that nothing good can come from a decade’s old stockpile of old PC parts. A good rule of thumb is to clean out that parts closet at least once every two years. Unless you really think you have a good use for that old monitor, you might be able to put the cash you could get for it to even better use.