Mark from Montreal writes: "Just read your LCD vs. DLP rear-projection column
. Great stuff, but I think you should also do a column specifically for the 30-plus-year-old gamer with kids and enough cash to get a 50-plus-inch HDTV for movies and games."
I don't think Mark meant to imply that I should write a column just for him. Rather, he was intimating that there are a lot of other people, even non-Canucks, in the same predicament: "mature" gamers who now have the dough to set up a dream home entertainment system that can fully exploit the more advanced A/V elements of today's gaming machines--and future ones. Guys like Mark--and, yes, guys like me--are also the ones who study the backside of Xbox
game cases to see whether the title supports wide-screen 480p
or even 720p
modes. If you think a high-res session of NBA Ballers seems a much better use of a big-screen TV than, say, watching a King of Queens
rerun, count yourself among our ranks.
"I thought of 'modding' a PC as a project," Mark writes. "But I'd rather 'mod' my den in my house. So do I get an LCD rear projector, a DLP rear projector, or a front projector ceiling-mounted with a 100-inch screen on the wall? Expecting heavy TV usage, at least 40 hours a week."
Thanks for asking, Mark. Hope this helps. Going big
The ultimate gaming HDTV has to have an extralarge screen dimension because extreme
is what ultimate is all about--even if the picture quality will ultimately be trumped by the likes of a 34-inch-wide direct-view set such as Sony's KV-34XBR910
. Sweet: plasma or direct-view LCD
While plasmas have gotten a bad rap for having burn-in
issues (when you leave an image on the screen for too long, it gets ghosted into the display), manufacturers have taken steps to greatly reduce the problem to the point where it's almost
a nonissue--if you set your contrast to halfway or below and don't leave your game on a paused freeze-frame for hours on end. Used with care, plasmas actually make good gaming displays, especially since many perform better than LCDs or DLPs in terms of delivering solid blacks.
|Pioneer PDP-4340HD 43-inch plasma display
LCD direct-view sets are getting bigger and don't have burn-in on their rap sheet, but they're still really expensive (upcoming models such as Samsung's 46-inch LTP468W
and Sharp's 45-inch LC-45GX6U
will retail for around $10,000). Lackluster refresh rates are the real deal killer, though, causing the image to smear and blur, especially in fast-motion games. But if you have the cash to burn and aren't one to nitpick, a large LCD certainly makes for a sexy gaming display.
Standout products: Pioneer PDP-4340HD
(HD plasma); Panasonic TH-42PA20U
(plasma); Sharp LC30HV6U
(LCD). Sweeter: LCD or DLP rear-projection
Don't have a dedicated home-theater room or space for a 9-foot screen? Consider instead LCD and DLP rear-projection TVs
. They offer an impressive amount of screen real estate for the money (43 to 61 inches), and--unlike plasma TVs--their microdisplay projection technology is not susceptible to burn-in issues. But you will have to pull the shades down in bright rooms to get a good picture. The big question is: which is better for gaming? The answer is that they're about equal as far as we can tell, though some people may experience rainbow effects with DLP sets (read my previous column
to get the full skinny).
|Sony's KDF-60XBR950 Grand WEGA 60-inch LCD rear-projection TV
In his e-mail, Mark says that a salesman in an electronics store mentioned that since LCD rear-projection sets have no moving parts (DLP HDTVs are built around a small spinning color-wheel projection element), they're less likely to break down over time. Unfortunately, what the salesman at the store didn't tell him was that some experts argue that LCD projectors have issues that may cause the picture to degrade over time. Also, Sony had some quality control issues with an early batch of Grand WEGAs in 2003. Bottom line: With so few miles logged, I don't think we're ready to declare one TV more reliable than the other.
Standout products: Sony KDF-60XBR950
(LCD); Samsung HLN617W
(DLP); Hitachi 50V500
(LCD). Totally swank: front projector
In our A/V lab, a.k.a. the Miniplex, at CNET's New York office, we have a 106-inch diagonal Da-lite screen on the wall, and every once in a while, we connect an HD-enabled Xbox to a new front projector
such as BenQ's $7,000 PE8700
DLP and throw a game or two up onto the big screen. You want the ultimate? That's the ultimate.
|BenQ PE8700 DLP front projector
Standout products: Panasonic PT-AE500U
(LCD); Sony VPL-HS20
(LCD); BenQ PE7800
(DLP) Connectivity is king
Mark wants to hook up a ton of equipment--including three gaming consoles (Xbox, PS2, and even a "classic" Nintendo N64), a PC, a DVD player, and an HD satellite receiver--to whatever TV he buys, which means he needs it to have a multitude of inputs
. Front projectors tend not to have all that many inputs, and most HDTVs never seem to have quite enough component-video inputs, although an A/V receiver that does video switching and/or video upconversion takes care of that problem.
For Xbox users who've opted to purchase the high-definition jack pack
accessory, it's important to take note of just what kind of component-video inputs are on the back of a set. Samsung's 2003 DLP sets, for example, have three component-video connections, but one accepts 480i signals while the other two accept 480p, 720p, and 1080i signals. The problem is the Xbox start screen is only output in 480i, which means that you have to manually switch the cables from one input to another depending on what game you're playing and what video modes it supports. We've seen this issue with other sets as well, so beware. (To be fair to Samsung, it has resolved this problem in its next-generation DLP TVs, due out shortly.)
A similar caveat applies to PC users who want to put their games on the big screen. While many small and midsize LCD flat panels are specifically designed to work as a TV or a PC monitor, the DVI input of many other, larger TVs (namely Sonys and Hitachis) is compatible only with DVI or HDMI
signals from other consumer devices--not
the DVI output from a PC's video card. Be sure to check carefully the manufacturer's specs if you're planning to connect your PC.
Ideal connectivity: one DVI (for PC, DVD, cable, or satellite receiver); one HDMI; at least three full-bandwidth component-video inputs; three S-Video inputs; and one built-in memory card reader.
Standout models: Pioneer PDP-4340HD
(HD plasma); Panasonic TH-42PX20UP
(HD plasma); Sharp LC30HV6U
David Carnoy is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. Have a question for him? Let us know!