I need my Guitar Hero
March 9, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

HDTV's that don't cause video game lag?

I'm in the market for a new TV in the near future, but I'm worried about HDTV's causing crippling video game lag from PS2's and other previous-generation systems. Does anyone know which new HDTV's don't have this problem?
posted by Navelgazer to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is being addressed. Look for game modes that skip much of the image processing.
posted by NortonDC at 10:54 AM on March 9, 2008

For the guitar hero example it can be calibrated for HDTV lag. I have no experience doing this, but I have seen the option in the configuration.
posted by DJWeezy at 11:02 AM on March 9, 2008

I've been very happy with my [LC-37GP1U] Sharp Aquos with "VYPER mode" (however cheesy it sounds)..
But, to be honest, I didn't notice any lag when I was running my PS2 through the non-vyper-equipped input (before I bought my PS3) either.
I think you really have to be playing super-timing-intensive "twitch" games, where every millisecond counts, to even notice the game-lag at all.

Also, as for newer systems, at least Rock Band has in-game settings you can tweak to compensate for lag.

As far as I understand it, you just really can't play old Light Gun games on modern HDTVs.
posted by jozxyqk at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2008

I think they all have the problem, Navelgazer. It's just a matter of degree. Even game modes don't eliminate gaming lag, unfortunately... they just decrease it. What TV manufacturers don't want you to know is that non-HD sources can look pretty bad on an HDTV.

One point of anecdotal evidence: I have a Samsung LNT4053H and the lag was bad enough that it threw off the timing on my Wii games so badly that I just gave up and sold the Wii. The PS2's lag is horrendous, too, even with component cables.

Even my 360 lags somewhat, but some games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have a calibration setting so the game isn't ruined, and in probably 90% of the games I play I don't even notice it. It's the games where timing is super-critical that you end up smashing controllers against the wall in frustration.

Here's a thorough article from AVS Forum about the issue.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:48 AM on March 9, 2008

Does it have to be a dedicated television? There might be computer LCDs that will accept TV input signals... a lot of them have crazy-sick response times.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:06 PM on March 9, 2008

Civil_Disobedient, the lag comes from the upscaling needed to convert a TV input signal at, e.g., 480p up to the native resolution of the monitor. It's basically down to the quality of the circuit that does the upscaling.

The response times that you'll see listed for monitors are pixel response times, which measure the amount of time it takes a pixel to slew its value from one color to the next (there is, naturally, some gamesmanship involved with these numbers, such as measuring the gray-to-black response time instead of the white-to-black). This response time is relevant to both video and games because the lower it is, the less blurring you'll see in fast-moving scenes. But it has little to do with "HDTV lag".

The lag number is never published, you'll have to find it out for yourself. This guy's test methodology worked out pretty well for me, but I didn't find any TVs that had less than 1 frame of lag, either. I imagine that this is somehow considered a "niche" concern or something to the manufacturers, as they think that the majority of customers just want to watch videos. Samsung in particular has the reputation of having nice-looking visuals and terrible lag. It used to be that the lag would be so bad that the audio would be noticeably out-of-sync with the video! Now they just have audio delay loops so that no matter how bad the lag is, the audio will at least run in lockstep.

Of course, once everything plugged into your monitor is an HD source running at the native resolution of the monitor, this problem will go away. Spend, consumer, spend!
posted by breath at 3:56 PM on March 9, 2008

It depends on the system too. I have a Wii hooked up to an LCD HDTV, no lag problems whatsoever, including Guitar Hero -- worked right out of the box.

But the PS2 is another story; major lag on certain games. Rock Band, for example -- luckily it has that calibration setting so you can custom synch it for your tv.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 3:59 PM on March 9, 2008

Another point of anecdotal evidence:

I have a Panasonic Plasma that runs at 1024x768 native resolution, so pretty much everything gets scaled and I have NO problems with lag on either my PS2 (games like Guitar Hero) or my Wii (Mario Galaxy etc).

To be honest, I didn't think this was the problem it used to be (oh, and I've never enabled "game mode" or anything like that... at least as far as I know).
posted by ranglin at 4:16 PM on March 9, 2008

I just bought a Toshiba Regza and found that the lag is significant and makes Guitar Hero unplayable. The Regza has a Game Mode which I turned on but didnt see any difference. What you need to do is go into the Options screen and calibrate the lag. Works perfectly then. It even tells you how bad the lag is. Mine floats around 66ms.

Since then Ive played a couple of different games in Game Mode and havent noticed any problems. This includes Wii games, classic games (pacman/galaga via Jakks controller), American Idol Karaoke, etc.

So my uninformed opinion is that Game Mode works well enough for most games. Twitchy games like Guitar Hero will require a lag calibration. Classic games that are this twitchy but do not have lag calibration will be a problem. You might want to save the CRT if this is important.

Its also important to understand that response time has nothing to do with gaming. It has only to do with how long it takes the screen to change the color of pixels. So an 8ms response time tells you how much blurring and other video oddness youre going to get.

I played a bit with the Regza and found that game mode only really shuts off MPEG smoothing (which just sounds like low level video processing). Another thing to consider is that it may take more time, thus lag, to draw a streched picture as opposed to repeating the natural resolution of the signal. The Wii video looks like crap when stretched out but at natural/native it looks good. I keep it at this setting at natural which seems to help with the lag. What resolution the game system is outputting is also a concern.

You can read this older article on the subject. It sounds like Sony and Toshiba are pretty good while Panasonic is the worst, but considering that article is almost two years old, it may not mean anything anymore. What you should do is post the model names of the TVs you are looking at in HD and video game forums. Not to mention doing google searches on them. If the TV is particularly bad then just avoid it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:54 PM on March 9, 2008

I own a Sony Bravia and I play games on it (a Wii) and have never noticed any lag. There might be some for all I know, but to all intents and purposes, it works great for me, even for faster moving games like Excite Truck. I'd definitely recommend it.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:04 PM on March 9, 2008

Oh, and I just noticed your post title "I need my Guitar Hero." So you know, I also own Guitar Hero III for the Wii and the only time I miss a note is through my own incompetence. I have several songs with a 100% notes hit score, so yeah, Sony Bravia is the way to go imo.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:10 PM on March 9, 2008

I thank you all for the help. I should mention that while Rock Band seems to calibrate very nicely from what I've seen on HDTV's, Guitar Hero doesn't at all, and in fact only gets worse and worse as you try to work through it, like a drunk man steadying himself on ice.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:51 PM on March 10, 2008

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