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Monday, November 14, 2005

HDTV Buying Guide: Xbox 360 Edition

HDTV Buying Guide: Xbox 360 Edition

""The eve of HD gaming is upon us. I'm sure that you have your Xbox 360 pre-ordered with the quickest route to the store that morning all mapped out. You probably have picked up some games and the already know the controller from the hours you have spent at Wal-Mart. You're ready for the 360 but where is your HDTV for your next gen console?

Many gamers, not unlike yourself, are ready for the Xbox 360 but do not have a HDTV nor do they knew what to look for to maximize their investment. There are so many options out there that choosing the right set for your lifestyle can be overwhelming. So HD Beat presents the HDTV Buying Guide: Xbox 360 edition.

Things to consider

The 360 itself needs to be considered when looking for a HDTV. Your gaming habits as well can steer you towards a certain type of TV. Mostly what it boils down to is your cash. But that’s OK; we'll show you what types of TVs you can get while staying in your budget that will maximize that brand new Xbox.

Before we start though lets clear some things up. First, the 360 does not have HDMI or DVI. The $400 package ships with component cables (red, green, blue, red, & white) and so far there is no announcement from Microsoft that it will ever support HDMI. Most HDTVs now have the digital connections but you won't be using them with the new Xbox.

Second, you don't need an HDTV to use the 360. In fact, your TV might be good enough for you; those gamers that have a 27-inch or smaller set will find that HDTV is not that much better in those sizes. If you're low on cash, try your TV first with the component cables and you might be surprised. The Xbox has the ability to drop the resolution down all the way to 480i, which any TV can handle. The graphics are still going to be amazingly clean and smooth.

Lastly, don't worry about the actual resolution of the TV; instead, consider what type of digital signals it can display. The Xbox only supports a few resolutions but try to find a TV that can do 720p. Yes, 1080i is a higher resolution but it can only do 30 frames a second, while 720p displays 60 frames a second. Therefore, even though it has fewer lines of resolution, 720p produces a smoother picture so it's a better way to display fast moving objects.

Plasmas and LCD/DLPs are mostly 720p displays while rear-projection CRTs do 1080i natively. Most 1080i sets will drop down and produce 720p but some will not: certain Panasonic tube HDTVs, for example. Make sure you ask the salesman to show you what the TV can do and if they can't, go somewhere else.

Budget of a high school student or college freshman:
$0 - $499pan

Ok, you just dropped $400 on the console and an extra $60 for a game so your cash is a little strapped but you still need that HDTV. Well, if you decided that your hand-me-down 24-incher is not good enough, we have a few ideas that might fit the bill.

Look for a 27-inch tube that is high-definition capable. Sometimes you can find 26-inch widescreens under $500 as well, which would be the TV of choice for HD gaming because of the widescreen. If you want to maximize your buying power, look for 30-inch “out of the box” or "floor-model" specials at brick and mortar stores that would give you more screen for your money even if they are used. Often times, these sets still come with warranties.

Sure, these TVs are all tubes and might not look "cool", but they don't suffer from short lives or burn-in. Nor do they drop pixels or have lamps that need to be replaced. They will give you a great TV for the money.

Budget of a live-at-home 20-something or productive young adult:

This range can be fun but confusing. For example, $899 will get a consumer ether a high-end 30-inch tube or an entry level 26-inch LCD. If it was me, I would choose the tube every time (better blacks and response time) and Christmas is going to favor this budget a lot. But remember to watch-out for tube TVs that don't support 720p, like certain Panasonic models.

Christmas will help out gamers this year and there have been reports of major electronic stores having 26-inch LCDs for $500 the day after thanksgiving. Plus, gamers will be able to find entry-level 46 to 51-inch rear projections for under a grand. Big screens are great for large-scale gaming but if you've never owned one and plan on watching basic cable on it, you may want to ask the salesman to pop it on a normal station. Perhaps after buying the 360 and the TV to go with it, you don't have the cash to spend high-def cable and rear-projections have never been known for high quality pictures." [more]

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