Decide to buy the biggest flatscreen possible on which to play Call of Duty Black Ops and you might end-up with low-fuzzy foregrounds and blurry battlefields.
Best TV for gaming: plasma, LCD or LED?
LED backlighting as a genre adds better contrast to LCD models, and also tend to include other high-end features useful for gaming – such as 100Hz modes (see below) – but what about the plasma TV alternative? Formerly avoided by gamers because of burn-out, there are now some compelling reasons to consider plasma if a 42-inch screen (the minimum size for a plasma) is on your shopping list.
Plasma traditionally produced smoother motion, but now the many of the high end LCDs use 200Hz panels and direct local dimming LED backlighting to match this performance as well – these can provide superior brightness, sharpness and more brilliant white output. But Plasma aficionados (like me) beg to differ.
LCD/LED TVs are traditionally sharper with still images, but tend to display a blur when showing fast-moving sequences. Plasmas, meanwhile, haven’t always been quite as sharp with still images, but the cells react much quicker to moving pictures and don’t lose resolution.
When it comes to using a TV for gaming it is important that the TV is capable of creating strong vibrant colours, bright images, sharp edges and smooth motion. It’s also crucial that there is absolutely minimal lag – the time it takes from the picture to come from the games console or computer to being displayed on the TV screen – which requires switchable processing and fast response panels.
The scanning rate on an LCD panel is now routinely doubled from the normal 50Hz by software that inserts repeats and estimations of frames of video, though any advance on 100Hz is technically down to ‘creative arithmetic’ and, usually, ‘backlight scanning’, which is basically some flashing lights!
However, because the phosphor in a plasma reacts instantaneously, motion blur is far less of an issue – though so standard has become the ‘hertz’ marketing that plasma makers have started quoting figures like 600Hz to provide an answer to punters with ‘must have 100Hz’ already burned on their consciousness by LCD marketing.
Image retention, also known as screen burn, was the bête noir of gaming TVs. the possibility of images displayed onscreen for long periods becoming permanently visible has often put-off gamers from investing in a plasma. However with few games now using static backgrounds, this is a virtual non-issue on plasmas built in the last few years.
In theory screen burn could still be a problem for plasmas, but you’d have to leave the game on for a very long period, and the game itself would have to have a static part to the picture. Many new games make sure that the static part shifts after a period of time to avoid screen-burn issues.
What about the need of pure black- essential in games where you are wandering about at night or in dark spaceship hulks. Plasma wins the day here, no question, though the gap is closing with LED backlighting becoming more and more effective. Edge LED sets – which tend to be slimmer, so more popular – don’t achieve the kind of contrast possible with the (slightly) chubbier, more expensive Direct LED backlights, but we’re fast approaching a plateau where the differences between the various technologies in this areas are slight enough for gamers (though perhaps not home cinema addicts) to ignore.
Plasma handles motion really well and is best for black reproduction levels. Contrast is important if you’re playing you’re playing a first person shooter, whereas if you’re playing football the colour and motion are really important. What about a TV’s “Game mode”. Often found as a preset on a TV’s ‘AV mode’, game mode is essentially a combination of all the relevant features on a TV that makes gaming look great. When games mode is selected the TV creates vivid images, but de-selects processing meant for movies or normal TV viewing, thereby reducing time lag to the minimum. More games are now in 3D. For example KillZone 3 on the PS3. There will be a lot more to come. After 2010’s positive reviews and sales figures, 3D is perhaps the most compelling reason to consider plasma as a gaming platform. All in all, at this moment in time, a Plasma 3D TV is arguably the best one to buy if you are anything more than a casual gamer.
Here’s one of the Panasonic Viera range which will probably fit the bill for you:
Panasonic Viera TX-L32ET5B LED 3D Smart TV, 32″, Freeview HD, 4x 3D Glasses with 3D Blu-ray Player, less than £700.
For more information on plasma TVs you can check: http://reviewed-plasma-tv.com/