If you’re an avid gamer, especially a competitive one, you’ll know that a fraction of a second can mean the difference between winning and losing. To stay on top of your game, you’ll need a TV that can keep up with you. So what sets a great gaming TV apart from an average one?
A great gaming TV won’t slow you down. Some TVs can experience ‘input lag’, which is the amount of time it takes for the video signal from your games system to go through the port it’s using to connect to your TV and appear as an image on your screen. A TV that takes more than 50 milliseconds to do this can create a situation where the on-screen action is slightly behind real-time, so when you move the controller to dodge a blast, or duck under cover, your virtual self might not make it! As a rule of thumb, always use your TV’s HDMI connector with your games console or PC, as it’s designed to be faster than older analogue connectors, and be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications to see if there is a measurement for its input speed, or lag, before you buy.
In addition to how quickly a video signal can pass through the inputs, the speed in which the screen can react, or change colour, is important for gaming. A slow ‘pixel response’ time, which is measured in milliseconds, means that a screen’s pixels can’t keep up with objects moving quickly across the screen. This introduces motion blur, along with ‘streaks’ that trail the edges of objects. Blur detracts from how sharp objects appear when moving on screen, creating a softening, and potentially distracting, effect. To avoid this, make sure that your TV has a pixel response time of 20ms or less.
Another tip is to look for a dedicated ‘Games Mode’ in the list of your TV’s features. Games Mode essentially strips away the extra image processing techniques that many modern TVs apply to sharpen up the image. This can include things like adding extra frames to create smoother motion, dynamically adjusting the colour pallet and upscaling the resolution. As these effects take time for the TV to process, they can create milliseconds of delay, so removing them can help ensure the least amount of latency between the games system and the screen.
Modern games consoles are powerful and can deliver incredible virtual playgrounds that are truly a sight to behold. The latest generation PlayStation 4 Pro and XBox One X, for example support games in 4K resolution along with High Dynamic Range (for HDR content), meaning incredible detail, sharpness and high colour fidelity. This is why gamers should look for a 4K TV with HDR to deliver the very best visuals that today’s games have to offer. Also, some new TVs can even display HDR with Games Mode switched on, so you don’t lose out on the added realism of this feature.
And if you run out of games to play, there’s always the option of downloading games directly to your compatible internet-connected Smart TV. There’s plenty to choose from, with fun for kids and the whole family. And as many new TVs can connect to compatible Bluetooth accessories including wireless controllers and keyboards, you can drop the remote control and pick up a joystick.