This is something I wrote up for a friend. It might contain useful information for some readers here as well.
Standard desktop computer screens and especially laptop screens can cause eyestrain as users get older. "Zooming in" the contents of the screen should provide some relief, especially if you’re working all day on a single task. On the other hand, if you’re surfing the net and get tired of hitting the zoom button every time you go to a new website, then another quick, cheap solution is to purchase reading/magnification glasses. Any good drugstore sells them for $20 in standard increments of magnification: 125%, 150%, and so on.
Another solution, albeit much more complex, is to use a big-screen TV as an “external display” for your computer: That is, hook your computer to your big-screen TV and use the TV screen as your computer screen while you sit a comfortable 6 or 7 feet away. You set up a table and chair with the mouse and keyboard at a comfortable distance from the TV for most tasks, and you can always zoom in or out with the keyboard controls as needed for fine-tuning for specific tasks.
This is especially handy for laptops with their small screens: You can put the laptop on a cooling pad and hook it to the TV while home for big-screen use, and then unhook it and take it with you for travel. (Meantime, the TV can be switched between computer, cable, DVD player, and game player as usual.)
By the way, this set-up isn’t merely a TV web browser for internet use only. If you set up your TV as an “external display” for your computer, you can then dim your computer screen and do all your usual computer work (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) right on the TV screen. Of course, it’s also great for moving on-line computer games onto the big screen for ease of play as well.
There are a couple tricks to making the computer-TV connection, though.
1) You need an up-to-date TV with HDMI, DVI, or RGP inputs
2) You need an up-to-date computer with similar outputs and an up-to-date graphics card.
3) You need to find a cable that will run between the computer and the TV; you may need an accompanying audio cable; you may need a converter cable or converter fittings to go from one type of output on the computer to another type of input on the TV.
4) If you are going to place your keyboard and mouse on a table 5 or 6 feet away from the TV, then you have to think about the lengths and numbers of your cables (i.e., use extension cables and maybe a hub) or play around with a wireless keyboard and/or mouse.
5) You have to play with the preferences on your computer in order to ensure that the video signal going out of your computer matches the screen settings for your TV. (This can be particularly problematic; there is always something about graphics cards that makes them tempremental.) And you have to set up your TV to accept incoming signals from the appropriate input port.
In other words, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to hook up. As far as I know, there aren’t any right-out-of-the-box set-ups for this. Given the wide variety of TVs and computers available, there are often varying degrees of incompatibility.
If you’re tech savvy, the instruction booklets for your computer and TV should provide most of the information you need. (Look for the section on “external displays.”) You can google tech sites for specific settings or troubleshooting help, and you can order the cables you need from on-line stores.
If you’re not tech savvy, on the other hand, you can call in an outside rent-a-computer-geek to pull together a working set-up for you, or you can try to get a salesman to walk you through it at a good computer store.
No one will fault you if you go the cheap, easy route and get reading/magnification glasses at the local drugstore. But if you spend a lot of time on the computer and you have the patience to set up your TV as an “external display” for your computer (or can rent a computer geek to do it for you), it will definitely give you a feeling of freedom to get that computer screen out of your face and put it across the room; and it will be nice not to have to fumble with reading glasses or worry about eyestrain after a long session on the computer.