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Hdtv = Gaming Disaster?


JPickford (retired mod)
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http://www.4colorrebellion.com/archives/20...secret-of-hdtv/

The Dirty Little Secret Of HDTV

[4cr Guest Columnist - octorok]

This is a warning to anyone who would consider

buying an HDTV for the purpose of gaming

$3579.99 is how much cash I handed the clerk at Fry’s Electronics. I was especially happy because I had driven one hour south into Oregon where I made my purchase tax-free. After reviewing my extended warranty with the floor supervisor, I promptly exited the store with the largest smile you’ve ever seen on anybody’s face EVER. As I was securing my priceless cargo into the rear of my truck, people were walking by with envious comments like, “You’re taking that to my house, right?” I was in the sweet la-la land of outrageous techno-geek-paradise… And it was good.

At 11:30pm I played the first game on my new 56″ DLP HD behemoth: The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time (from the MasterQuest duo) via component inputs. It was glorious. Playing videogames on a screen that big is like having a dream that you’re flying amidst the mountainous cliffs of the Grand Canyon - I never wanted it to end. The picture was absolutely phenomenal! Clear, crisp, vibrant. The controls felt a little strange - “I guess I’m gonna have to re-learn some things now that I’m sitting in front of this wall of righteous gaming glory.” I thought to myself.

I had spent months researching which TV to buy and what technology was best suited for videogames, and I was concerned that I would have to hire a professional calibrator to come out and dial-in my picture. But, after seeing and experiencing the glory of my new and flawless gaming portal I was sure that I could just tweak it myself and save the $300 on the pro calibrator.

Next I threw in Wind Waker: Awesome! Then, Prince of Persia SoT: Fantastic! Then, Luigi’s Mansion: Unbelievable! And so on, and so on, and so on… The last game I chose: Metroid Prime. I nearly began to cry tears of nerd-joy… I had found the Promised Land. I took Samus deep into the impact crater and came face to face with the dark worm that dwelt in the blackest recesses of Talon IV. The monstrous beast lumbered across my huge screen like a 10-story-tall mechanical spider. Having not played Prime for almost a year, I was doomed …And as Samus took her final breath in the clutches of phazon-mutated death, the smile on my face reached the boundaries of human encapsulation. The dreams of my childhood self, the aspirations of my desire to be one with my game were finally coming true… At that moment, I knew ecstasy.

At about 2am, I started to feel nauseous and had to stop. “I’m gonna have to get acclimated to playing on such a big screen”… I thought to myself as I went to sleep that night… All was right with the world.

Then everything went wrong.

It all started when I came home from work the next day and found my wife playing Animal Crossing. I sat for about 15 minutes just watching her play; picking weeds, digging holes, talking to fellow residents, it was glorious! Then, when she came upon my 2 story house in the center of town I said, “Hey, go inside and let’s play Super Mario Bros!” I thought it would be oh-so-nostalgic to play my old favorite game on my new gigantic monitor. So, she took her cutesy character into my NES-game-filled house and started up Super Mario Bros. (For those of you who don’t know: Animal Crossing contains a playable, full version of the original NES Super Mario Bros.) After about 1 minute of playing SMB, my wife looked at me and said, “The controls are all messed up…” I was like, huh? What are you talking about? And she said, “Yeah, the controls are all lagging and slow-like…” I took the controller into my hands and played for myself the ultra-familiar level 1-1.

Indeed. There was a distinct lag between button-press and onscreen-response. In other words, when I pressed the JUMP button, Mario JUMPED about ¼ second later. At this moment I turned to my girl and said in a monotone voice, “What did you do to my TV?!” She responded quickly, “I didn’t do anything - I pushed power on the TV remote, put in Animal Crossing, turned on the Nintendo, and sat down.” I looked back at my new TV and stared for a long, long moment. I grabbed the remote control and went through all the video options and made sure everything was correct. I reset the Nintendo and went into the Gamecube setup screen to check for any video options, which there weren’t any. Again, I fired-up Animal Crossing… Mr. Resetti popped up!! After dealing with him, I quickly played SMB again - same problem as before: Mario’s jump response was just slightly after I pressed the jump button. It was at this point that I began to notice that the sound was slightly off as well. I proceeded through levels 1-1 and 1-2 and, I sucked. I was missing ? blocks, falling off ledges and dying, getting hit by goombas - it was disgraceful! I turned off the TV, the Nintendo, and pulled the plugs from the wall.

After about 5 minutes, I turned everything back on and tried it again… Same story. Then I popped in Wario World… Same story; the jump response was latent. Again I stumbled around in the game. My timing was horribly affected by the lag between button-press and screen-response. I tried Prince of Persia: same thing. Tetris: same thing. Metroid Prime: same thing; when I made Samus curl into a ball and drop a bomb, the bomb appeared about ¼ second after I pressed the button. I wondered why I hadn’t noticed this lag while playing the previous night, but I guess I was so in awe of my new HDTV that I wasn’t really paying attention all that closely. Once again I shut everything off and restarted… It was no use.

I unplugged the Nintendo and took it downstairs and hooked it up to my 27” CRT - everything was normal; Samus’ bomb response was instantaneous. I popped in Animal Crossing: Mr. Resetti!! - but Mario’s jump response was normal and I flawlessly flew through level 1-1.

At this point desperation was beginning to set in. Could this be caused by the fact that I was using Gamecube component cables? Is there a power issue? Is my controller messed up? Is it the TV? I knew a way to answer these questions once and for all…

Out of the closet came my original NES. I hooked it up to the monstrous 56” screen via the AV1 inputs (red and yellow cables) I popped in my Super Mario Bros cartridge, pressed the power button, and…

To make a long and sad story short - I drove my brand new 56” DLP HDTV back to Fry’s Electronics the next day… Defeated.

After my NES failed to be immune to the HDTV latency problem, I vigorously researched the issue. Apparently, “Latency” is the dirty little secret of HDTV. It is a well know and well documented problem that affects all formats of HDTV: DLP, LCD, Plasma, LCoS, and even CRT. The vast majority of HDTV users experience latency while trying to sync up video with sound; essentially, what you see onscreen falls behind what you hear from the speakers. As a solution for home theater latency issues, several companies offer devices that off-set the sound so-as-to sync up audio/video. But no such device can be used to fix the Videogame/HDTV latency problem. The problem occurs during the process of video “upconversion” and there is NO real-time permanent solution. Not yet.

Upconversion is the process that HDTVs use to convert analog and low resolution digital signals to the higher native resolution of the TV itself. For example, the Gamecube puts out video via component cables at a resolution of 480i (some games have a progressive-scan 480p mode). The native resolution of my 56” DLP HDTV was 768p. So, the 480i video coming out of the Gamecube must be “upconverted” to match the 768p native resolution of the HDTV. This process can take anywhere between 35 and 500 milliseconds - the death-blow for videogames. I did find some ways to minimize latency on my particular HDTV model: I shut off digital noise filtering, reduced the SNR threshold, turned off DNIE, but the result was still short of acceptable. To make matters worse, it is VERY hard to find any resources that deal specifically with gaming related HDTV issues. Apparently some gamers detect the latency, and others do not. From what I’ve been reading, it’s about 50 / 50. I wish I was one of the other 50.

Since that dreaded day when Hi-Def reality hit me like a ton of koopas, my research has been thorough, and the truth about gaming on HDTV is this: The current generation of HDTVs and the technology that makes them tick is inherently flawed by processing speed issues. Even a $20,000 plasma screen will have your Mario jumping just a little behind schedule. Accordingly, the ill-suited-for-gaming nature of HDTV begs one important question: What are PS3 and XBOX360 going to do when ½ of all gamers complain that their slick, new HDTV compatible game consoles have mind-numbing latency issues. Time will tell…

In conclusion, it is always smart to test out the findings and facts of others. If you are still dead set on buying a large format HDTV for the purpose of gaming - TEST IT OUT!!!!! Take your Gamecube/Xbox/ps2 down to the local electronics store and plug it in. Try the analog inputs, the digital inputs. Mess with the various video settings and get a feel for the television. Maybe you are among the lucky 50% and won’t detect latency. Believe me when I tell you that over the past 4-5 months I have read TONS of good things about HDTV technology and not 1 single thing about video related latency until I specifically looked for it. I’m sure the HDTV manufacturers are happy about that.

Might be bollocks. I haven't played a game on such a set. It is feasible that de-interlacing and upscaling are buffered (in fact they must be) so there will be a lag of at least a 30th of a second - possibly more.

A proper prog-scan signal shouldn't need buffering though. So perhaps we'll have to play old games on new hardware (like Revolution).

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The link appears to have stopped working. Can't you play a few games on the currennt Xbox at 1080i? Have there been any problems?

An interlaced signal being displayed as interlaced should be fine. The problem will occur when an interlaced signal is being de-interlaced.

Games with a slowish framerate (like halo) might be able to deal with the lag better than a 60fps game.

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Well i have a 46" dlp hdtv and have used every console on it without this problem. I also have a 27" hdtv lcd which again i have used every console on and none have showen this problem. I have heard about it before on certian dlp tvs but i never found one in store that had a problem.

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Interesting reading, and seems to make sense.

Thankfully though I have never experienced the problem, and I have played all current consoles (plus n64 and DC) on mine, not to mention a load of emulators.

He does mention not everyone can see it though.

No doubt now its been pointed out though I will go home tonight and I will see it!

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Can someone explain it in layman's terms? I haven't a clue about these things.

Your HDTV is a higher resolution than the native resolution of some games you will play on it. To compensate the TV has to perform a slight calculation to make the picture display properly on your screen. The time this calculation takes results in your button presses and what appears on screen to be out of sync.

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Your HDTV is a higher resolution than the native resolution of some games you will play on it.  To compensate the TV has to perform a slight calculation to make the picture display properly on your screen.  The time this calculation takes results in your button presses and what appears on screen to be out of sync.

Cheers.

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That's odd.

Will it really need to buffer the frames to upscale? I can see why for de-interlacing.

Well yes but I suppose the buffer could theoreticaly be just a couple of scanlines - making the delay more or less zero. I imagine this will vary a lot depending on the hardware.

At worst this is a problem for playing current\old games. Prog-scan games should be lag-free I think. Assuming the TV doesn't work in some sort of worst-case mode all the time.

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I'm not convinced by it myself, I've not heard of it before. I get a similar thing if I put a console through my DVD recorder though, but not a TV. I know it's delayed as the audio goes out of sync with the TV in the other room.

Maybe his TV is faulty?

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I'm not convinced by it myself, I've not heard of it before. I get a similar thing if I put a console through my DVD recorder though, but not a TV. I know it's delayed as the audio goes out of sync with the TV in the other room.

Maybe his TV is faulty?

It's hard to imagine how an interlaced signal can be de-interlaced WITHOUT a delay. I suspect he had a particularly slow TV but I reckon he's right.

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I've heard of this before, but only for some models (most commonly Samsung DLP HDTVs - searching for samsung dlp delay returns quite a few related results).

After checking the link it does seem that the TV that the person who wrote that bought was a Samsung.

A followup on the same article sounds reassuring:

The problem with UP conversion is that most TVs only take certain resolutions natively. This is NOT a problem with all HDTVs. If you are going to buy an HDTV make sure it resolves 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i (at least), natively. My TV does not take 720p natively and it converts it to 1080i. I don’t have much of a problem because only FOX broadcasts at that resolution and I don’t play Soul Calibur 2 on Xbox, which is one of the few games with 720p. At this very moment I am playing Tales of Symphonia (great game, btw) and no latency issues. My tv is connected to Xbox, PS2, GC, Gameboy player, NES, DVD, and HD broadcasts and I’ve never had a problem. This is not because I don’t notice it either; I regard myself as a twitch gamer (halo2, SSBM, etc) and would not be able to play these games well if there was latency.

I was looking to buy a DLP tv because as of now, they are the highes quality HDTVs around, but I did notice these very weird native resolutions such as 768p (this comes from the PC industry, 1024×768), which no one broadcasts and no console will ever output natively. So to sum it up, HDTV is wonderful, just make sure that your HD set takes 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i natively (1080p if you are thinking of buying a PS3 I suppose).

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Ah, as Eoin posted, hopefully it's just teething problems with a new technology :lol:

If two fields are being combined into one (de-interlace) then the TV can't really start displaying until it has all the data. That means a 30th of a second delay. Or perhaps a 60th if it starts displaying the de-interlaced image while the second field is arriving.

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If two fields are being combined into one (de-interlace) then the TV can't really start displaying until it has all the data.  That means a 30th of a second delay.  Or perhaps a 60th if it starts displaying the de-interlaced image while the second field is arriving.

Man!

Kick me whilst I'm down :lol:

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