Friday, December 12, 2008

Out With the Old and In With the New

For about the past 12+ years I have had the same gaming setup you see below.

Kev's Old TV

The TV you see there was a 27" Sanyo SDTV. It's so old that it only had an RF input, so I had to play all my gaming systems through a VCR. For the past two months, the screen had started to get wavy after a few hours of play and I had to leave it off for a few minutes to make the wavyness stop.

Anyway, I wanted my next TV to be an HDTV, so I could actually make out my games on it without having to squint at times. If you've ever tried to play Infinite Undiscovery on an SDTV or tried to write a game script for Dead Rising while playing on one, then you know how blurry some text can get while playing a High Definition game on an SDTV.

After much asking around from friends and in-store employees, I finally settled on this 42" Panasonic VIERA Plasma 1080p HDTV. A Circuit City employee and a Best Buy employee recommended it to me after I mentioned that I want a TV for gaming, so I went ahead and went with it. Mind you, it was bought for $999 at Best Buy then I found it later at Circuit City for $899 and managed to get a price match.

Here's a few pics:

Kev's New TV 1
Kev's New TV 2

My dad helped me set it up last Saturday. My first game to experience on it was the RE5 demo. I played it the day before on my SDTV then I played it the next night on my new HDTV. In the matter of a day, I had gone from extreme fanboy excitement (playing RE5 on... anything) to pure unadulterated bliss (playing RE5 in 1080i HD). There's no way I could have timed that better!

Dead Space looks fantastic on it too, and I still have yet to try many of my older games. Need to break out Dead Rising soon also. Wii doesn't look that hot, nor do any of the older systems, but at least there's no lag associated with them like I've read about with some HDTV's.

If you look at the pics, I've also got a new 5.1 surround setup (silver speakers in new pics) in place of my old 2.1 surround setup (black speakers in old pic). It's got a lot more bass than my previous speakers... well, that's what my parents have told me anyway, haha.


Nish said...

Nice! Can't go wrong with a Panasonic. I would have gone for one if the 37" available in the UK at the time wasn't bigger than my Sony 40". The 42" is just too big for the space I have.

Good work too on the 5.1. It's what Dead Space was made for.

Berserker said...

Yeah, I have to sometimes turn down the subwoofer whenever I shoot the Pulse Rifle or the sound vibrates throughout the house. All the mana and corruption sound effects in Prince of Persia sound good with a 5.1 setup also.

Sentox said...

Welcome to the present :P Seriously, though, it must be a joy to play in HD. I've been a PC gamer so long that I've never had much to do with low resolutions, but every time I see a console on an SDTV it hurts.

One minor question... why play RE5 in 1080i, or is it a typo? The 360 can upscale to 1080p.

Sentox said...

Oh, and for laughs, here's my console setup. As you can see, it comes with glorious 2.0 speakers :P My PC has 5.1, but there's no way to set it up in my bedroom.

Oh, and the walls still are hanging together, despite how it may look xD

Sentox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sentox said...

Geez, I'm cluttering up your blog :| I had to delete that last comment because it was the wrong link.

Anyway, I dug up an owner's thread for your TV over at AVS Forum. Of particular interest might be the info on breaking it in:

Berserker said...

The HDTV won't display 1080p through component. I can set it to 1080p on the Xbox 360 but it automatically resets it back to whatever it was at before. I have an older 360 without an HDMI plug, so I can't get 1080p unless I buy a new 360 and an HDMI cable. That $250 isn't worth it right now to me. I'm sure I'll have to buy another 360 some day though with this one already refusing to read disc every now and then (usually rare right now with certain games).

I have my PS3 plugged in with an HDMI cable and get 1080p on it. I have compared Street Fighter II HD Remix on both and it is a bit clearer on the PS3, but it still looks really good on the 360 as well.

I can't really decide whether 720p or 1080i looks better on the 360. 720p is darker and 1080i is lighter. It almost seems like 720p is a bit clearer though... hard to tell.

Can't get your pic url to work. It says it's been moved or deleted.

Thanks for the TV url! I printed out some of that info and will look through it more later tonight. The problem with me is that I can't stay away from my games long enough to watch normal TV. I think I'm being cautious enough with it though to not have worry about image retention. Haven't had any trace of it yet. I never leave my games paused for over 10 minutes.

Sentox said...

Given that your TV is 1024x768 (rectangular pixels, one of the idiosyncrasies of most plasma displays), it's going to scale the image no matter what you feed it. Since the 360 renders (nearly all) games in 720p then scales them to your output setting, it really makes sense to stick with that. Otherwise, at 1080i, the image goes through two scaling steps, and is unnecessarily interlaced and then deinterlaced by the TV (not to mention that interlacing can cause problems with fast motion). It is in the eye of the beholder, though.

Image retention isn't much of a problem these days, admittedly. The biggest culprit is game HUDs that don't change much (such as the health display in RE5).

Not sure what's wrong with that link... it's still working for me. Go Photobucket :S

Sentox said...

Maybe this one will work:

Berserker said...

I see what I was doing wrong with the url. I was trying to copy and paste it from the pop-up window and it wasn't getting it all since the window was too small... Shhh.

So that's where you perform all your devil hunting. Looks like a good setup for gaming. Any type of speakers are better than none at all. :)

Brian said...

Haha, very nice Kev. The entire room transformed, not just the TV! Nice tease with the Dreamcast hanging out the door too.

As for your Wii and older consoles, just set your tv to display in 4:3 for the time being, unless the game has an explicit widescreen mode (like Metroid Prime). It's not gonna be perfect but it beats some of the stretchyness.

Also, to simply squash the 720p/1080i debate... 720p wins because of better resolution and because motion is always better on 720p. 1080i is cripser but this is video games we're talking about, not Planet Earth :)

Sentox said...

Actually, 1080i is higher resolution than 720p.

Technically you can argue that because the fields are interlaced, there's only 540 horizontal lines. While this is true, if you do the math:

1920 x 1080 = 2,073,600 (1080p)
1920 x 540 = 1,036,800 (1080i)
1280 x 720 = 921,600 (720p)

So even if you argue this on a total mathematical level, one frame at 1080i carries more visual information than 720p. In practice, 1080i is certainly capable of communicating more detail than 720p.

Of course, this is all rendered moot by the fact that the internal resolution for 90%+ of 360 games is 720p, so the visual information just doesn't exist in the first place. No point scaling up and suffering the motion issues from interlacing.

Sentox said...

* "totally" mathetical level. Blogspot still needs an edit button ]:|

Also, I meant to ask... how has your Hori stick treated you?

Berserker said...

I tryed playing REmake through the Wii earlier and it looked pretty ugly no matter which way I set it. Wasn't unplayable, just not as smooth as it looks on an SDTV.

The Hori stick is working great. It's surviving the punishment that I can serve out onto a stick while playing Guile on Street Fighter, so it must be better made than what I originally thought.

I still can't get out some special moves the way I would like to since I'm still not used to the gumball top on the stick. I think that will be remedied around the time of Street Fighter IV though hopefully...

indigo0086 said...

Was that a Jock strap next to your old TV. What a beautiful mess your room is, makes me feel better about mine.

Nice tv though, and shame you don't have the HDMI. But if you do one day get a 360 with HDMI be warned that if you buy an aftermarket cable like monoprice's, the current setup is too narrow to allow both the hdmi and the cable for optical out. You'd have to buy a special cable for it that only MS sales, or you could tear off the plastic hunk on the current component cable and plug that in and the hdmi at the same time.

Berserker said...

Thanks for the info. The current 360 that I own will most likely continue to fail on me, so I'll probably pick up a new one eventually. I just sent it away for repair for the second time a few days ago.

And, yes, that is indeed a jock strap.

With the old pic, you're actually seeing the cleanest portion of my room. If you look to the left of the old entertainment center, you can see a big pile of stuff stacked up in a huge mound. Look closely and you'll see what appears to be a doorway - that's my closet that I haven't opened in about 10+ years. Haha.

I got rid of about half of that stuff when the new TV went in but I still need to clean out even more.

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