HDTV UK's Guide to the Ultimate High Definition Home Cinema Experience – Part Six: HD gaming

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Courtesy of HDTV UK, here’s the final part of their handy guide to getting the best high definition cinema system in your very own home:

Playing games on a large screen may not be an essential part of everyone’s home cinema experience, but there’s no doubt that the experience of playing high definition, or even standard definition, games on the big screen can be incredibly immersive.

This feature article looks at the equipment you’ll need to start gaming on your high definition TV or projector.

HD GAMES CONSOLES

There are currently two games consoles capable of handling high definition games: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.

Xbox 360

Microsoft stipulated that all games for the Xbox 360 must output at least 720p (minimum standard) high definition resolution. Some output in higher resolutions, and all will be scaled by the console to match the TV or projector being used.

In addition, older standard definition games will also be upscaled to high definition resolution.

The standard console is connected to the display using either component HD AV cables or a VGA HD AV cable. The Xbox 360 Premium and Xbox 360 Elite can also connect using HDMI.

All games are loaded and run from the built-in optical drive. There’s no need to add the HD DVD drive in order to play games.

The standard Xbox 360 can be picked up for around £180, or more for bundles. The Xbox 360 Premium and Xbox 360 Elite, which boast more storage and more output options, come in at around £300.

PlayStation 3

Sony did not make it a prerequisite that all games released for the PS3 had to output native high definition. However, an increasing number of games do, including at full 1080p resolution.

The console is best connected to the display using HDMI, though component can also be used.

All games come on Blu-ray discs, the format of the built in optical drive. The latest European models don’t support PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 1 games.

The PS3 with 40GB hard drive costs around £299, while the 60GB version costs £349.

HD PC gaming

Yes, I know a PC isn’t a console, but it is possible to connect many modern PCs and notebooks to a high definition display.

Many now feature the necessary components to be able to do this, such as DVI or HDMI output, compatible graphics card, and powerful central processor.

Setting up the system can be more complicated than a dedicated console, and not all games will output in high definition resolutions. However, if you’re already an ardent fan of PC gaming, rather than console gaming, this could be the best option.


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NON-HD GAMES CONSOLES

Nintendo Wii

There have been rumours of a high definition version of the Wii for some time, but nothing has been forthcoming. However, there’s still no reason not to upscale the 480p output and get decent results. In fact, these interactive games look better on the big screen.

PlayStation 2

The PS2 only outputs standard definition resolutions, but these can be upscaled by your TV or AV receiver. Alternatively, Fire International have released the Xploder HDTV Player which will upscale and send a progressive high definition signal to other equipment.

ISSUES

Fortunately, there aren’t a huge number of issues related to gaming in high definition. However, there were early instances of incompatibility between some consoles and TVs. This was often linked to the HDMI versions being used.

It is definitely worth checking that the console and TV/projector/receiver combination you’re considering will work well together. In most instances, they’ll work fine.

Minimising delay (lag) in gaming is critical. Some TVs come with a special “gaming mode” which aims to do this. Obviously, even a minor delay between console and display will make controlling the game near impossible. Best advice is to try it out first.

Stuart Waterman