Gaming and LCD TVs

So I got (myself) a new 46" Samsung LCD HDTV for Christmas. This is a significant upgrade from my 12-year-old 20" Sony Trinitron.

I also just got my Wii back from the repair shop (darn graphics card).

I decided to test out my new TV’s gaming mojo by starting up Guitar Hero 3 and hitting a few of the songs I know well. I can usually crank through “Black Magic Woman” on Hard with little trouble.

This time I got kicked off the stage about 10 seconds in.

After some study, I discovered that there seems to be a slight delay in the video, so that I have to strum maybe 0.25 to 0.5 second earlier than I’m accustomed to. I’ve since heard that this video delay is a known phenomenon with LCD TVs.

Has anyone else encountered this issue? Am I just going to have to readjust my reflexes to account for this, or have folks found it to actually ruin their gaming experience?

(For the record, I’m playing Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn right now, so the video lag isn’t an issue at all.)

Yep. Totally put me off my PS2 games.

Starting with Guitar Hero II they offered a calibrating thingie, where you watch some motronomic type display that you strum along with in time as well as possible, and it configures the delay for you. It’s still a pain though.

Not sure if I want to revisit the HDMI clusterfuck I got into yesterday, but I believe with a digital signal to the TV from the Wii (pretty sure they have an HDMI slot) that problem is solved. I don’t have any Guitar Hero type games for my PS3, so I’m not entirely sure if that’s the case, but every other video game I play seems pretty un-delayed to me.

One other LCD complaint I have is the screen-burn. Have you run into that yet? The burn generally goes away relatively quickly – like maybe several hours of down time – but it’s such a pain when playing some game with a dedicated HUD or something, then switching back to regular TV and seeing it in like this shadowed blue shade over everything. Irritating.

Ah… welcome to the nightmare of modern LCDs.

What you’re dealing with is called Input Lag. It’s a delay caused by the processor in the panel attempting to display the picture correctly. Basically your monitor is storing multiple frames at a time and displaying them in a way that will reduce artifacts.

No it’s not as much as 0.25 to 0.5 seconds (500 ms). But it can be as bad as 60ms which equates to about 3 to 4 frames. Then you add to this the Response Time (which is usually listed on the monitor specs) and it can get upwards of 75+ ms delay.

Anyway, the type of panel affects Input Lag. I’ll give a brief explanation of most popular LCD panels.

S-PVA - Very high input lag. Good viewing angles. Moderate price.

IPS - Low to medium input lag. Perfect viewing angles. Very high price.

TN - Zero to low input lag. Horrible viewing angles. Low price.

For and idea on prices, a typical 24” TN panel will cost around $300, an S-PVA will cost around $500 and an IPS will cost around $800. That’s for computer monitors. Almost all HDTVs use S-PVA panels.

There are a few HDTVs that use IPS panels. For instance I have my eye on the Panasonic TC-32LZ800. It’s a 32” IPS panel that was on sale for $650. My only problem with it is that it uses a Glossy screen (it reflects light almost as bad as a mirror, but gives slightly better contrast ratio and viewing angles). As apposed to a Matte screen.

LCDs are extremely frustrating because there’s no such thing as the “best” type of TV. You really have to pick your poison, or just keep waiting for the perfect TV that will likely never show up.

Don’t worry, you can calibrate the lag:

I played drums on Rock Band 2 at a friend’s house, he’d just got the game. I expected I’d have to get used to his TV and drum set, but it almost felt like I was playing a different song than everyone else. I kept missing notes on easy songs, really frustrating. I finally made everyone stop playing and calibrated the drums, that made a HUGE difference.

So look in your options/settings and that will fix you up.

Thanks for the quick responses!

I’ll have to check and see if GH3 offers a calibration option. Thanks for the tip.

The Wii doesn’t have an HDMI output; they have a proprietary video output with standard composite video and component video options (the former comes with the system; the latter cable you have to buy separately). I have the component video hookup, which allows the Wii to output at 480p (which is more like EDTV, rather than true HD).

I haven’t noticed screen burn yet; I only get maybe 60-90 minutes of gaming time on any given day so maybe it hasn’t been on long enough? I thought screen burn wasn’t supposed to be an issue with LCDs. :confused:

As someone who is researching HDTVs in preparation for an eventual buy… is this a problem with Plasma screen units as well as LCD?

ChadVader, thank you for all the information. I admit my estimate of the input lag was simply a WAG. :o

control-z, thanks for the link. Looks like I’ll be trying some calibration experiments when I get home tonight.

My ~3 year old plasma does exhibit short-term burn-in, but I’ve not seen anything permanent. Of course I’m careful not to leave it on a static image for long periods of time. The TV itself can be set to shift the pixels periodically to minimize burn-in, but if you have a large static area on the screen for a long time that won’t help.

LCDs take less energy, the picture isn’t much worse, and don’t easily burn in, so I’d go with LCD if it was me.

I thought so too, but I sure get it with mine. Nothing permanent. Maybe that’s the thing – no *permanent *screen-burn.

On an LCD screen it’s called image persistence and is not generally permanent. This is a different situation from CRT and Plasma burn-in which can be permanent.

See if your TV has a “gaming mode” or something like that available in the options. Some TVs feature this which cuts down on the image processing and frame buffering in order to reduce input lag.

It does. I’ve used it. Didn’t make me any better at the game, mumble grumble.


Yes. There are some more expensive models that make it less of a problem, but mostly you’re just stuck with it. I’ve resolved to do all of my classic gaming via emulator.

Bummer. :frowning:

I played around with the calibrator last night. It felt best at around a 60 ms lag, but I may try to refine this further. I still can’t get past the Kaiju Megadome level though (stuck at 3 out of 4 songs on Hard)! Argh!

I wish CRTs were still manufactured as a niche market. I finally got around to switching to an LCD monitor recently, and although I did a ton of research and got pretty much the best monitor ever made for my purposes, it’s still irritating. CRTs are still superior in every way except size/weight/energy.

Just shy of two years ago, I picked up a 51" CRT HDTV for $700. Pretty much the last of the genre. I’m going to make this baby last as long as possible and then some - nothing can compare for silky smooth, rich colour, picture. No lag. no “native resolution” crap, no bulbs to change. Ahhh…