External Monitor Quality + Crop Questions

I finally decided to replace the old 20″ 720p TV that I had been using as a second screen on quite a few Macs for 11 years (iMac 21.5, 11″ Air, 13″ Air and 3 different 13″ MBPs). I feel like I have a pretty good “I know what I know” understanding of how this should work, but I’m not as tech-savvy or savvy as I maybe was 10 years ago years… so I come to you, MacRumors community, with a few questions:

Quick background: For my use case, a 24-inch Full HD monitor seemed perfect. I’m currently using an Intel 13″ 2020 for staff and a 13″ butterfly for work. I work in a business and mostly live in MS Office, and personal use is pretty basic – moderate photo editing is about as heavy as it gets. The screen space is large, but needs to be balanced with the size of my apartment/home office.

First of all, honestly, I don’t see much improvement in quality from the old TV. Text and images certainly look a little sharper in comparison, but overall it doesn’t look much clearer. I’ve read a few takes that Mac OS is optimized for higher quality displays and anything less than 4K looks bad by design and/or it’s just because I’m looking at a Retina display from the other side. Is this really the case with current Macs? My last machine was a 2015 MBP and obviously all the others I mentioned above were older so maybe not as noticeable? The 720p TV has worked with my current machines for a few years, but I’m replacing it for a reason.

Second: Is there a reason why the new monitor wouldn’t fill from edge to edge? There is a thick black “frame” about half an inch that runs along the edge of the monitor (see photo), which makes the size of my old screen negligible. Is it just a weird aspect ratio, even though it’s a standard 16×9 screen? I know you can adjust overscan when using a TV as a monitor to fix this problem, but I didn’t expect to have any issues with a real monitor.

Finally, I initially took a 24-inch Full HD TV, but switched back to a real monitor after reading a bit about why they were better. I doesn’t open it or compare again. But, if the quality of the HD monitor isn’t great anyway, should I just try the TV to benefit from the edge-to-edge/overscan and the added flexibility of the device? My priority is the best possible display quality for the job, but I would occasionally stream video to the screen through a browser or native TV apps.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and input.


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Steven L. Nielsen