HDTV is for real

After several months of occasional playing on a Xbox 360 on a old, cheap SDTV, yesterday I bought (as a present, alas, not for me) an “HD Ready” HDTV and had the chance to try the 360 on it.

I took the 360 to the store, to test the TV with it, because I wasn’t sure I could trust the “HD Ready” stickers. Well, they turned to be for real: HD Ready means 720p/1080i (vs. the “full” HDTV, which is supposed to be 1080p, or 1920×1080). I didn’t get around to testing with the 360 in-store, because the demo reels they started were convincing enough. After you’ve watched them, switching to a normal, broadcast TV channel is painful: you realize how desaturated, blocky, blurry and grainy the signal really is. If you’re into gaming, 720p is all you’ll need this (next?) generation - the 360 doesn’t even support 1080p, and PS3 supports it mostly nominally, as it doesn’t have the fillrate for it.

Later, we took the TV to its intended recipient, and tried several games, most notably Dead Rising, which has gotten some bad rap for being virtually unplayable on a SDTV due to its small points fonts. Well, I didn’t realize it even had text in such places :-)  All in all, the HDTV set allows the 360 to display a picture as rich in information as a typical PC game in a typical PC resolution. Definitely a must have if you’re into console gaming; the experience is much, much better.

Incidentally, this raises the price of “console gaming” quite a lot. Theoretically, the 360 is supposed to cost “$299″, but this is its cheaper, HDD-less SKU, and you need to already have a TV, and, of course, if you happen to live in the US. In practice, here in Sofia it goes for something like 500 EUR, and you need to buy a decent HDTV for e.g. 400 EUR (the 29″ Samsung I tried yesterday), which is more like $1200…

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