wii tv?
August 1, 2009 5:23 AM   Subscribe

Television recommendation just for running a Wii?

We don't have a television, but recently got smitten with playing Wii games. I've never bought a television before, so what am I needing? Not looking for something huge or expensive.

(Through reading comments, looks like trying to get my nice but surplus-to-requirements Viewsonic VGA/DVI widescreen monitor would be a lot of work and ultimately rather unsatisfactory. Would that be right?)
posted by scruss to Shopping (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Wii isn't HD, but you can buy component cables for it to get 480p output, which is the best quality available.

So for the best quality-to-price ratio, try and find a TV that isn't HD, but still has component inputs.

Finally, avoid plama screens, or the static on-screen graphics of most games will burn themselves in.
posted by Mwongozi at 5:29 AM on August 1, 2009

"plama" should be "plasma", of course.

And to answer your other question, yes, a monitor (or TV) with VGA, DVI, or HDMI would be pretty useless, since the Wii doesn't output those formats. You can get converters, but they're expensive and usually the output quality isn't all that great.

Component is the way to go.
posted by Mwongozi at 5:34 AM on August 1, 2009

Finally, avoid plasma screens, or the static on-screen graphics of most games will burn themselves in.

That's pretty much a myth, unless non-Panasonic brands suck a lot more than the plasmas I've owned. But the whole point of buying a plasma is to get deeper contrast when watching films, so an inexpensive LCD should be more than enough for use with a Wii.
posted by effbot at 5:35 AM on August 1, 2009

Old CRT TVs are now pretty much obsolete and a lot of them are for sale cheap. My local craigslist has a dozen or fifteen from $20 to $225. If you're near a town with a recycling center (formerly known as "the dump"), spend some Saturday morning there looking at / asking people about the TV's they're bringing in to get rid of. Don't like the one you got? Bring it back next Saturday and try again.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 5:38 AM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have repeated first-hand experience of games burning into plasma screens. It takes a long time (50+ hours), but it does happen.

I used to own a Pioneer plasma which ultimately had the "B" icon from the right-hand side of Zelda: Twilight Princess burn itself gently into the screen, which was annoying.
posted by Mwongozi at 5:38 AM on August 1, 2009

Sure, and I have repeated first-hand experience of Wii games not burning into modern plasma screens. Temporary ghosting, sure, but never any trace of burn in. And plasma manufacturers actually improve things too, so the roots of often repeated internet myths needs to be revisited from time to time.
posted by effbot at 5:47 AM on August 1, 2009

You definitely want component inputs. I have repeated first-hand experience with the Wii looking a hell of a lot better with component cables than with composite. :-)
posted by danb at 5:52 AM on August 1, 2009

Well, I'd say Wii games looks a hell of a lot better if you have a screen, so the first step is to get one :)

I'd agree with Tiller: if you have room for a CRT, that's probably the cheapest way to get something that works just fine with your Wii. The only thing you need to watch out for if you get an LCD is motion blur, but I don't think that should be a problem on anything recent.
posted by effbot at 6:03 AM on August 1, 2009

One thing to think about is how many people you want to be able to play this thing at the same time. Anything less than 32 inches will require people to stand closer to the screen than may be comfortable, especially since playing the Wii can be a rather... vigorous activity. Seriously, if you can find something in the 40-inch range, you'll probably be glad you did.

The other thing to think about is speakers. Most computer monitors don't have them, so if you decide to use one for the Wii, you're going to have to come up with an audio solution as well. Unless you're playing your console in the same place you use your computer--like I do--and are okay with not being able to use your computer and console at the same time, you're talking about getting another set of computer speakers and hooking them up too.

I'd recommend hitting up Craigslist for your metropolitan area. I'd plan on dropping $200 on the problem unless you're really not picky. But you may find that your experience on smaller TVs isn't quite as enjoyable, as everyone winds up crowding around, getting in each other's way.
posted by valkyryn at 6:19 AM on August 1, 2009

We really don't have a lot of space; the room is wide, but not very deep, and the TV has to be fitted into a fairly small console, so 40" is right out. May have to go for something like the Samsung T220HD.
posted by scruss at 6:49 AM on August 1, 2009

Maybe consider a projector?
posted by spilon at 7:30 AM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

480p--the Wii's maximum resolution--is sometimes called EDTV. If you're not getting cable and/or an antenna and watching HD channels (which may be available for free with an antenna, btw), paying more for an HD set over an ED set is not a good idea.
EDTVs are not super common or popular these days, so the price difference may not be that vast. Indeed, the Samsung HD monitor (which, mind you, has no tv tuner, so no channels even with an antenna. This is the fundamental difference between a TV and a monitor) is less expensive than most of the EDTVs I found in a very cursory googling.
posted by willpie at 8:21 AM on August 1, 2009

When you buy a TV, you need to consider where it will be positioned in relation to the seating; and in addition, the Wii's motion controls require some clear space around you. This makes the traditional couch -> coffetable -> tv stand setup a pain in the ass. The recommended distance is 3 to 8 feed from the screen, for anything involving pointing at it.

Trying to pop in a monitor in place of a TV can be a trick. You don't really need a high resolution TV for the Wii -- it's graphics are at most 640x480. However, you may want a larger screen just to be able to play at a comfortable distance from the screen. Monitors also have no sound, so you'd need a separate stereo that can take RCA inputs, or at least some wires to convert RCA to whatever speakers you have handy. It sounds like you may already have an entertainment center ("console") and perhaps a stereo, so you might already have this covered?

Looking at the Samsung you picked out, it won't work with the Wii out of box. The Wii comes with "composite" cables, which are common on many Televisions, and a few monitors (mine does composite, dvi, vga and s-video). You'll need to pick up some Wii HD cables (no need for official expensive Nintendo ones, HD signal is digital), or find a monitor that takes composite input. Finally, there's a resolution mismatch between that monitor and traditional HDTV. It's somewhere between 720 and 1080. Either one is way beyond the Wii's outputs, but scaling up can sometimes look bad when the output resolution (1680 x 1050) isn't a multiple of the input (640x480). You may need to fiddle with the screen settings to get it to scale but not stretch.

So in summary:

* Find / Make a space with seating and enough space to stand and spin around with arms stretched.
* Find a screen capable of accepting composite cables, or HD component. The bigger the screen the better, but there's no need to go for super high resolution for just the Wii.
* Get a cheap HD cable if you want the best graphics available.
* Find a source of sound, preferably one with RCA inputs.
posted by pwnguin at 11:23 AM on August 1, 2009

What is this "console" it has to fit into, and is it necessarily permanent? I don't mean to unnecessarily expand your question, but you are trying to fit a TV into a previously TV-free room. I'm typing this into a 22" Samsung T220 (non HD) right now, and I would only play my Wii on it if it were on the coffee table in front of me. I do know people, people who actually work in video games, who play on ~27" flat-panels from the couch, so maybe that's a decent rule of thumb.

Really though, it sounds like your space to put the TV is more of a limiting factor than the fact that you don't already have a TV.
posted by rhizome at 12:21 PM on August 1, 2009

> That's pretty much a myth

It's not a myth, pretty much or otherwise. We have a handful of two-year-old plasma screens at work that have our Powerpoint template permanently burned into them. LCDs are cheaper, too and they look just as nice, if not better than a lot of plasmas. Motion blur, ehhh, maybe you're looking at it too hard, I don't know. Your mileage may whatever.

Anyway, if you want to use your VGA monitor for the Wii then prepare to pay anywhere from $50-1000 for a scaler/upconverter. (Versus a new 32" LCD TV which can be had for ~$400, and mount for another $20.) A projector or projection TV is nice if your room is dimly lit - they can be had for cheap if you keep an eye out.
posted by ostranenie at 7:01 PM on August 1, 2009

A 22 inch tv will really diminish the wii experience (I have tried it, and I hope I never try it again). If you want more than one person to play at a time with games which are split screen, 22 inches is probably going to make you want to stop playing the wii. I would strongly suggest you test it out on a TV that size before buying one.

As for LCD burn in, it is certainly a real thing. My best friend has a very nice LCD (I don't know if it is Sony or Panasonic, but it is one of their upper models from about 2 years ago). They watch a lot of standard definition TV with the black bars on the side. It is at the point now where they don't like watching wide screen movies, because the color balance is different on the sides than in the middle. They also have a nice little logo from one of their video games. That is the reason I purchased an LCD TV, and I would suggest you do the same.
posted by markblasco at 8:14 PM on August 1, 2009

As for LCD burn in, it is certainly a real thing. [...] That is the reason I purchased an LCD TV, and I would suggest you do the same.

posted by mathlete at 7:13 AM on August 2, 2009

Seeing that the purchase of a 32" TV is going to push the system cost well over $1000, I think I might shelve the idea for now. Thanks for all your suggestions.
posted by scruss at 7:36 AM on August 2, 2009

Whaddaya know, I decided to anyway. Ended up with the LG 32" 1080p; overkill, but it has component input, and it's sharp and clear.
posted by scruss at 8:19 PM on August 21, 2009

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