When I’m not working, blogging or clearing snow (ok that last one only happened today), most followers of this blog will know that I’m partial to a spot of console gaming.
I have a PS3 which has been one of my greatest investments of all time. Unlike my PC, I’ve never had to upgrade the hardware and new updates keep coming out which actually improve the ability of the console rather than just take up some of my time and then apparently do very little!
Recently I bought a PlayTV add-on which, after the console itself, is one of my second best gadget-type purchases of all time. I’d been holding off buying a Freeview box for a long time. I’d borrowed a friend’s and ok it gave me a good picture and some more channels, but I don’t really go out of my way to watch the TV and it seemed like a bit of a worthless investment.
However, the fact that New Zealand will soon make digital TV the only option encouraged me to start exploring my options a bit further. Luckily, PlayTV had recently come down in price, from around $200 to just $119 at the big red shed, so I went ahead and bought one.
In comparison to any Freeview box you can buy at that price, the PlayTV is brilliant. It just does everything and for once the developers and had a really good think about usability. It’s so intuitive and easy to figure out. It has a full TV guide with a one-push record scheduling for programs. All you have to do is load up the guide, lazily scan through the programs, hit ‘select’ on a few that you fancy watching and you can come back later to watch your own personalised TV schedule.
It also records the programs in perfect quality. This can take up a bit of space on your hard-drive but so long as you don’t mind deleting a program once you’ve watched it, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Speaking of quality, I’ve been following the debate on which TVs are best for console gaming recently. Note that we’re now talking about gaming here rather than regular TV watching.
I’ve started to read up on the great ‘LCD vs. Plasma’ debacle. People seem to swear blind that one or the other is the best, and you can probably go to two different stores and speak to two different people and each will give you a different story as to why one is better than the other. This video shows a good summary.
Currently I have an LCD TV which I bought from Bond & Bond. They have a good range on offer and, being a Sony fan-boy, I ended up going with a Sony 32″ HD LCD TV. Mostly so that the Sony badge would match my Sony PS3 badge (not really, I’m not that bad).
Back when I bought mine a few years ago, it didn’t have many extra features built-in but today it’s packed full of them and is actually cheaper than when I originally bought mine. Great to see a good product coming down in price.
So what’s best for consoles?
This brings me to the question of ‘what’s the best TV for gaming?’. Well, a lot of games are all about shooting the bad guy before they shoot you.
Often I’ve found that the worst thing about the display while gaming is stopping the reflection of room lights and windows from reflecting on the screen and making it difficult to see key areas. These are usually the areas that the bad guy is about to jump out of and shoot you. As mentioned in the video above, plasma TVs can reflect room lights more than LCDs so to get the best out of them you’d have to play in a darker room.
It also used to be the case that plasma TVs ran the risk of ‘burn-in’. This is the appearance of ghosted outlines that are left on the screen when the same static image has been on display for a long period of time.
However, more modern plasma TVs are fighting this stigma and are becoming much better at reducing screen-burn and tend to have better contrast than they used to.
So which is the best? To be honest, you could probably search the internet and find a solid-sounding article that supports any argument possible. The best way to choose a TV for gaming is to visit a store and ask them to set up the TV that you’re interested in on a gaming console so that you can see the quality for yourself before making your purchase.