Top tips: How to buy the best gaming Plasma, LCD or LED HDTVs
Want to buy the best TV for gaming?
Trying to find how to buy the best TV for gaming can be a headache for a lot of people due to the many and different TV technologies, different features and functions, unfamiliar tech jargon and terms used; not to mention the other requirements of your video games.
Many people typically find it even more confusing when they first start to research to buy what they think would be their best TV for gaming.
In their search for their best gaming TVs, they will definitely come across numerous conflicting comments in AV, TV, gaming and other related forums that will make them very very confused.
Conflicting advices for buying the ideal TVs
For example, here are some of the advices that I found in reputable and highly respected TV related forums:
- “Whatever you do, do NOT get a plasma TV for gaming…”
- “As for my plasma, Its amazing. I have had no image retention image quality is astounding I haven't seen any other tv match its side view…”
- “You want a plasma to avoid motion blur problems with fast moving objects…”
- "Stick with LED and Plasma, I wouldn't get a LCD…"
- Etc etc…
Then there are those conflicting comments related to brands or manufacturers:
- “Whatever TV you choose, avoid LG like the plague…”
- “Almost all the HDTVs in my household are LG and I'v never had that problem. Gaming has always been flawless…”
- “LG's work wonderfully for gaming. I have an LG THX certified LED and the picture is beautiful and full of color…”
- etc, etc
One owner sang praises about particular TV technology while another is asking people not to buy it! One is telling people to buy a certain brand but the other is telling people not to buy that same brand. Boy, all this is really, really confusing!
If you are initially like me when I first started to look for my ideal TV for gaming, don’t worry. This is because I am going to highlight points and features for you so that you can select the best gaming TV that you have budgeted for and cut away all those confusion.
I will also point out the common jargon and technology used so that by the end of this hub, you should have a fairly good idea of what to look out for in your selection for the best TV for your video gaming.
Then, knowing how to buy that best TV for gaming will be so much easier.
To make it even easier for you, I will also point out some of the current best gaming TVs so that you can check them out in more detail without having to sort through the myriad of TVs that are available today.
What is the best TV for gaming?
First of all, we have to set the objective for us to be on the same page. I will assume that the objective for buying a TV for gaming is because you want more than just a monitor, right?
If that is the case we are on the same page and the primary focus of this hub will be to assist you in the selection of the best TV for gaming first and then consider other nice to have TV features next.
As such, I will put priority on the features that will most impact your gaming experience first and then point out other features that will together give you that overall satisfaction and user experience you desire on the whole for the TV.
What is the type of game you play the most
What games do you play?
Before you proceed, you have first of all to ask yourself what types of video games do you play?
Do you play first person shooter (FPS) fast action games like Call of Duty (COD), Halo, racing games etc?
Are your games multi players and online (MMO)?
If you do, then the first thing to seriously consider is the input lag.
This is because the input lag factor can literally determine your long life or early death especially in the FPS game.
FPS and other games that requires millisecond responses will need as little input lag as possible; especially when you are hooking up an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 to play the game.
I will elaborate more about input lag in the next section.
Very important features to consider in your search for the best gaming TV
The other points to consider and the jargon and terminology you may see and must understand in your search for the best TV for gaming include:
- Input lag as mentioned above.
- Response time
- Refresh rate - 60 Hz, 120 Hz, 240 Hz
- Scan rate - 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 720i
- Gaming mode
- Current TV technologies - Plasma, LED and LCD
I will next go through each of the above features in detail to give you a better understanding of what should go into the best gaming TV.
The other features that would be nice to have may include:
- Warranty - the longer the period of the warranty the better. Generally the manufacturers conduct strict QA on their TVs but being electronic devices, sometimes, though not often, things may go wrong with it. Having a longer warranty saves you for repairs.
- HDMI outputs - the more the better. This is to enable you to connect more devices to it as and when needed. I assume the reason you are buying a TV for playing games is because you would like to have a multiple use of the TV otherwise you would just bought a monitor!
- Size - again this is very subjective. If you are a competitive FPS gamer, then you may want a smaller TV (24 to 30 inches) otherwise it is nice to have a larger screen (40 to 65 inches). The reason for having a smaller screen is to enable you to react faster. If you have a larger screen you will have to look all over the place and may be shot before you shoot!
and most importantly, your budget. I will focus on how to select the best TV for gaming first and then let you map your budget to it.
Once you know what to look for, you can get your best gaming TV based on your budget by knowing what features you will need - what you must absolutely have and what you can do without in order to buy that best gaming TV that will fit your budget and not compromise your gaming enjoyment.
1. Some of the best gaming TVs has very low input lag
This is the number one priority when you are looking for the best TV for gaming especially if you are playing an FPS or fast paced game. Input lag will determine how responsive your gaming experience is going to be when you play your video games and this in turn may impact how long your FPS game character live or die!
However it is irrelevant if you were to use your TV mainly for TV shows or movies. It could also be irrelevant for a lot of other slower paced games as well.
So what is input lag? It is the delay in milliseconds from the moment your TV receives the signal e.g. when you press a button or moves your analogue game controller stick to the responses you see on the TV screen.
Input lag is introduced by modern flat screen televisions due to the many features such as back light dimming, up scaling, edge smoothing, motion-compensated frame interpolation, 3D engine, smart functions, etc. As would be expected, more time will be required to perform complex video processing and the functions described. As such this contributes to higher input lag.
TV manufacturers generally never publish any input lag figures but instead provide a “response time” figure (which I will explain in the next section). Due to that, almost all input lag data published on the internet comes from end users and professional reviewers rather than from TV manufacturers.
Input from gaming forums by serious gamers generally agree that an input lag of 40 ms and below will be hardly noticeable.
2. Fast TV response time is good
Response time is the time taken for a pixel to switch from active (black) to inactive (white) and back to black again. Think of it like the camera shutter with its different speeds except in this case, the crystals in the LCD and LED TV panel flips back and forth to allow light to pass or block it.
Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms). A lower number means a faster change while a larger number means it takes a longer time for the crystal to flip. As such TVs with a longer response time may not be suitable for fast action games such as FPS, racing etc. Just imagine looking at smears or blur around fast moving objects in your fast action games.
The latest method to overcome the response time problem is by raising the Hz rate of the LCD panels. Many of the latest LCD panels have now been doubled or quadrupled from the original standard of 60Hz to 120Hz and 240Hz.
3. 60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz...Huh, what's all these numbers?
60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz...what are all these numbers you see mentioned in forums and how does it impact your search for the best TV for gaming?
These numbers are also known as the refresh rate. The refresh rate is the number of times in a second that an LED or LCD screen updates its buffer.
To make it simple, if you take 120 or 240 and you divide them by 24, you will get a full figure whereas 60 does not. A full number result in your TV displaying nice pictures without those unwanted effects because you are seeing accurate number of full instead of fractions of frames.
The 120hz and 240hz TVs allow for an even division of 30hz TV output, 24hz film output, and 60hz video game output. For the 30hz TV output, it repeats 4 duplicate frames for every frame shown.
For the 24hz film output, it repeats 5 duplicate frames for every frame shown. While for 60hz video game output it repeats 2 duplicate frames for every frame shown.
A faster refresh rate will help to reduce the motion lag.
Different manufacturers refer to the refresh rate features in their TV menu system. If you come across terms such as Auto Motion Plus, Trumotion 120Hz, Aquo Motion etc., they all refer to the refresh rate.
4. 720p, 1080p, 1080i...what Are All These Numbers?
These numbers indicate the resolution of the TV. The old CRT TV has 576 horizontal lines as compared to 720 or 1080 in today's HDTV.
If you have watch TV on the old CRT, you may have noticed lines going across the TV but for today's TV, you don't. This is because of the better resolution; especially for the 1080 Tvs. 1080 is 1.5 times the resolution of the 720 TV.
The "i" stands for interlace while the "p" stand for progressive. What this means is that for an interlaced TV, the TV has to scan twice in order to fill up the screen while the "p" TV only need to do it once.
If you have fast moving videos, you may notice lags for the "i" TV while the "p" appears smoother. This is because the picture fills up the screen only once.
Anyway, "i" TVs are not popular now. SO what you get are mainly the "p" TVs.
Would 720p and 1080p make a difference?
Yes and no. For smaller TVs, our natural eye cannot see the difference. However, you can see the difference especially on larger TVs.
If the price difference is not much, then it is better to go with 1080p to get a better picture resolution.
5. Gaming mode
Sometime TV manufacturers cramp in a lot of functions and features into their TV. As the result of that the TV engine has to do additional processing and this will result in additional input lag.
Gaming mode allows you to reduce input lag by cutting down on various video processing applied to the picture on screen with just an activation of the option.
Many a times, enabling game mode will be sufficient to minimize lag
What size gaming TV are you looking for?
What do you think is your ideal size TV for gaming?
6. Plasma, LCD, LED, which is the best...
In researching for the best TV for gaming, you will definitely come across these three technology; namely Plasma, LCD and LED.
The most frequent question is which of these three technology is the best.
Unfortunately there is no one size fit all solution as you have seen in the introductory section where different owners have different preferences. The answer here is that it all depends on many factors such as your budget, size of the TV, etc etc and even the size of your room and the presence of windows will be a factor.
As such it is important to understand the basics on buying the best gaming TV first and then map back the technology, environment, type of games you play, budget etc. Then only will you be able to find the best TV for gaming for yourself as it may be different for different people.
I will cover these three TV technologies here as they are currently the most popular today.
There are also other newer technologies and they are beyond the scope of this hub whose primary objective is to provide you the necessary information in as simple to understand as possible manner so that you will know how to buy the best TV for gaming.
Plasma TV for gaming
The main advantage of plasma TV is that you can have a very wide TV screen as extremely thin materials are utilized in the construct of Plasma TVs. They typically range from 37 inches to over 100 inches.
As each pixel in the Plasma TV is individually lit, you get a very bright image that looks good from almost every angle with excellent picture quality.
The picture looks better if you have a darker room. High refresh rate on Plasmas results in smoother pictures with the least motion blur.
Plasma used to be vulnerable to burn-in, a phenomenon in which faint, permanent "ghosts" appear on displays that have maintained a fixed image for long periods of time. However latest Plasma seems to have overcome this.
The negative aspect of plasma is that in general, plasma TVs consume significantly more power than LCD TV of similar size and can be much heavier than the LCD or LED Tvs.
Its glass screen is also susceptible to light reflections.
As a matter of interest, Panasonic, producer of some of the best plasma TVs has ceased production of their plasma TVs at the end of last year. This decision however was not based on quality but rather declining consumer demands.
Their Korean competitors LG and Samsung will however continue their production.
Checkout the excellent Samsung PN64F5500 60-Inch 1080p TV above.
LCD TV for gaming
The LCD technology was basically developed to replace the CRT technology. Of the three screen technologies, right now, LCD is the cheapest.
As such, for a similar size model, the LCD TV generally costs much less than a plasma or LED TV. Today, however it looks that the manufacturing cost of the LED TV has gone down so much that it is no longer practical for the LCD to even compete with the LED TV.
As such, LCDs are only used in small screen devices while the LED TV has practically taken over the LCD TV market space.
The cost for the size of the TVs shown here are for illustration purposes only.
Make sure you click on the links to check out the cost of the different sizes of TV models you are looking for.
LED TV for gaming
The LED technology is an extension of the LCD technology as the LED monitor is actually an LCD monitor with LED back lights.
With this type of configuration, manufacturers were able to make the LED monitor slimmer (about half the thickness of the LCD) with better contrast and back-lighting that results in more vivid pictures with better color reproduction.
As the LCD TV is no longer popular, it looks like now the competition is between the plasma and the LED.
Even though plasma has it advantages, it is getting less popular.
Remember I mentioned earlier that Panasonic is exiting the plasma TV market because of poor demands for the plasma TVs although it has been generally acknowledged that Panasonic produces some of the best plasma TVs in the market.
However with the cost and other advantages of the LED out weighing the plasma and the LCD, it looks like the LED is the top of the three in terms of popularity.
The best TV for gaming
As I mentioned earlier in this hub, it is very subjective when it comes to selecting the best TV for gaming because it depends on many variables as well as personal preferences such as the size of the TV, features, technology etc and there is no TV that has everything!
However because of advancements in manufacturing technology that has brought the cost of production of the LED TV down, it basically now boils down to which is the best LED TV for gaming; even though some people still have preference for the plasma TV.
Ensure that the gaming TV you are buying is able to satisfy your requirements in terms of input lag, response time and refresh rate first and then only the other features. Your room size will also determine how big a TV that you can buy.
However if you just want the best and has a budget from $700 to $1500, looking for a decent size of around 50 to 60 inch TV, here are three of the very best TVs for gaming out of the hundreds out there:
VIZIO E-Series E500d-A0
Diff Tech, N/A here
Best TV for gaming - TOP Pick
The Sony KDL-55W950B is the newer version the very popular Sony KDL-55W900A TV which has one of the lowest input lag in the market at the point of writing. You will especially love this TV if you are playing your games with a PS4!
The Sony KDL-55W950B also gives you a very impressive viewing angle and dark black color levels. Through its new TRILUMINOS display, you will see a brilliant and wider range on colors on your TV.
At the same time you get realistic-looking motion processing through a high 240Hz refresh rate gives you excellent pictures in fast FPS games.
If you really want the best TV for gaming as well as for your other entertainment pleasure, then you must get this absolute beauty.
Get it right now as Amazon has a fantastic offer for this model.
In my humble opinion, this is the absolute best TV for gaming. This 240 Hz LED HDTV has a very crisp and clean picture quality with a very nice thin edge. Best of all Amazon has a fantastic bargain on this. Make sure you check it out by clicking on the above link.
Best TV for Gaming - Other top choices
This 50 inch 120 Hz Visio E500i-Ai smart LED TV gives you the best value for your money as it is the cheapest in this line up of excellent gaming TVs.
It has fantastic colours, contrast, brightness and clarity with excellent 3D.
If 50 inch is too big, then you can get the smaller ones. The E series has sizes ranging from 24 inches to 55 inches and from prices as low as $198 for the 24 inch model at the point of writing.
Take your pick!
Samsung PN64H5000 64-Inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma HDTV
If you love big screen TVs and ABSOLUTELY must have a plasma as many avid gamers felt that they are the best TV for gaming, then make sure you check out the excellent Samsung plasma TV.
If you are playing online games, you may want to look into the following as they will also be a factor to your ultimate gaming experience:
- Wireless router
- Cable modem
Find out more by checking out the links below:
- How To Look For The Best Wireless Router For Gaming
Whether you are a seasoned or novice gamer, make sure you find out how to look for the best wireless router for gaming to truly enjoy your online gaming in this easy to understand non technical hub.
- Is It Better To Buy Motorola SB6141 over SB6121?
Avoid the confusion over whether to buy the Motorola SB6141 or SB6121. Find out which of these two excellent cable modems gives you the best value for your money in this very easy to understand hub.
Some prefer to use gateways. A gateway is a two in one product consisting of modem and router combined in one box. If you are looking for an excellent gateway, check out the link below:
- Motorola SBG6782-AC: advanced all in one modem router combo with MoCA
The Motorola SBG6782-ac Surfboard Extreme cable modem plus wireless router combo together with its inbuilt MoCA technology gives you excellent network performance with unprecedented flexibility.
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