Cool things to do with an HDTV?
September 28, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm acquiring a plasma HDTV, and I'm looking for cool things to do with it when I'm not watching movies or playing games on it.

In addition to cable and a blu-ray player, it will also have an Xbox360 and a PC attached to it. I'm curious if there are artistic screensaver-type programs that can be run on the PC to make the TV more pleasant to look at than a black rectangle, or other interesting imagery to display on the TV. For instance, are there programs to display high-rated photos from flickr or other photo sites? Live satellite imagery? Something else?

I can run either windows or linux on the PC and I'm not adverse to doing some programming if it yields something impressive, so both off-the-shelf solutions and imaginative ideas are welcome.
posted by pombe to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How about Folding@Home. You'd probably want to figure out a way to get it to not be constantly black/still in the background, though. If you plan to keep the TV on that often you need something all-over dynamic to prevent burn-in.
posted by griphus at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2010

Any kind of music visualization is nice, Google Earth is pretty awesome. I exercycled through Norway for a while.

There are also constant, 24/7 streams of MST3K to be found online, but I'm not sure about linking to to them.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 11:02 AM on September 28, 2010

It's a plasma TV, so it will use a lot of electricity (>800 watts) and throw off a lot of heat. The heat will be nice this coming winter, though. How about a nice fireplace screen saver?
posted by kindall at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2010

I have a plasma screen that I used to run a bunch of interesting screensavers on. Except the screen savers did the opposite and started burning in things to the screen! I think you can avoid this by picking modules that don't have *any* hard contrast edges, but randomness continues to elude us as a species--that is to say, you're always going to have a pattern, and that pattern, given time, will burn.

My TV has a built-in screensaver feature that shifts the "no-signal" message around all over the screen if you leave it on without an input, and even that has started to burn into a pattern!

You may want to consider getting a LCD instead. They will have fewer burn issues, the operational life of your LCD backlight is going to be longer than the plasma (I believe this is still true), your electricity bill will be much MUCH less and you won't be generating a lot of extra heat in your living room.

As for things to run, a lot of people like electric sheep, though it didn't really fit with my aesthetic.
posted by danny the boy at 11:11 AM on September 28, 2010

To update: I'm aware of the burn-in issues and power consumption, and I'm not too concerned about them as I'm imagining this will be turned on for only 2-3 hours, 2-3 times a week, not continuously. Or am I naive, and burn-in is a problem even at those timescales?
posted by pombe at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2010

If the images are moving, I wouldn't worry too much about burn-in. But it's important to remember that plasma displays gradually lose brightness as they're used, regardless of what you're displaying. For the sake of longevity, I would turn it off when not in use.
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:49 AM on September 28, 2010

This is playing (usually without sound) on our HDTV 2-4 hours a day. It makes a nice background.
posted by buggzzee23 at 11:56 AM on September 28, 2010

have you heard of I use it on one of my digital picture frames, and it's pretty cool.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2010

Plasma TVs do not, generally speaking, consume >800W of power.

I've got a 1 year old 50" LG Plasma TV that has a max rating of 550W. Actual consumption when showing full-screen video? 200-250W, and that's with brightness settings high enough to watch in natural sunlight.

Plasmas use more energy than LCD which use more than LED TVs. But nowhere near the room-heater numbers that the max ratings imply.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 8:11 PM on September 28, 2010

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