Whine, whine, whine. That’s all my friends do when they come over to my house to game. I hear stuff like “I can’t see anything!” or “I could actually win a match if we were on my TV.” Whatever, I thought. I still kick their trash when we’re playing online, so why would an HDTV matter? (By the way, that’s not my TV) Then I started playing the first Mass Effect. Having conversations with NPCs was nigh impossible. I had to sit just a few feet from the TV, and that’s saying something because I have great vision. The text was just too small. I couldn’t read HUD values, bios, or pretty much any other text, either. Still, I dismissed it and played through.

I’m a tightwad when it comes to money. When you have a wife and two kids, a mortgage, bills, etc. you will be too. My philosophy has been not to replace a TV if it ain’t broken. To my chagrin both of my TVs are stubbornly resilient. I’ve had ‘offers’ from two brothers-in-law and several friends to sabotage a TV just so I can pick up something that’s HD. Still I resist. Why should I spend money on something I don’t need? Or do I?

That gaming edge

I’m starting to see the real draw. With the release of Trials Evolution my competitive nature has been kicked into overdrive. The accursed little gamertag of staffers Perry Jackson and Ross Adams constantly tease me while riding. They always seem to finish just moments before me. There are moments where I think to myself, “How are they getting through here unscathed? I can’t even see what I’m doing!” Those are my A-Ha moments–those times where I realize maybe they can see. Maybe it’s just my seven year old TV that’s the problem.

Does it apply across the board, though? Surely being able to see a few fine details can’t up your edge. I’ve had game nights where I play on and SDTV while others use HDTVs and I don’t feel like I get taken. Sure, I look over and I see that the colors are more vibrant and the details more sharp, but surely that can’t improve my skill, can it? All my skills is in my brain and my hands, right? Right?

Disregard for the cavemen

Bitmob’s Alex R. Cronk-Young understands my plight. Take a look at his snapshot from Lost Planet 2. That’s what I get to deal with on about 10% of my games. It’s something I’ve complained about–a lot. But the image above doesn’t really do the issue justice. Yes, it’s blurry, but there are a lot of things that need to be displayed. It’s when games leave lots of blank real estate and have this microscopic text tucked into corners that I get mad. Nexuiz was almost unplayable because of it. Rush’n Attack: Ex-Patriot‘s bullet trails were nigh invisible.

Don’t we deserve some readability? Here’s three great, yet polar, examples: Bioware dealt with players up in arms about the unreadable text in Mass Effect 2. Their response? They said it was only a problem with “a small portion of SDTV owners”.  Now we understand that patching it would be a nightmare, but why wasn’t this taken into account in the first place? Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts had the same problem. Rare initially shrugged it off, but later addressed the problem with a patch. Vanquish, on the other hand supported SDTV out of the gate. Simply put they enlarged the text if the player was using a SDTV. Bravo. What an utterly brilliant-yet-simple fix. Take note, developers.

I can’t just drop the cash

I can hear all the bachelors with money (more likely credit) to spare now: “Why not just suck it up and buy and HDTV?” I’d love to, but I have to reasons not to at the moment. The first is that I want a TV that is as tall as my SDTV is. At 31″ diagonal measurement (the standard for TVs) that means I have to buy roughly a 40″ TV or bigger to match. Then there’s the issue of resolution, refresh rate, and projection format (Plasma, LCD, or LED). The better the features, the more green stuff I need to pay for it. I don’t want to get a sub-par HDTV that I’ll have to replace, but the good ones are too expensive.

Pay on credit, you say? No thanks, I did the credit thing in my 20’s and figured out real quick that I didn’t want to be under anyone’s thumb. My only debt is my mortgage, and I’ll keep it that way. As the ‘old man’ on staff I’d suggest you all do the same. But then again some of you are probably better at managing money than I was at the time.


I get that I’ll have to submit at some point. Soon nobody will care about folks like me, nor about the teenager who plays his 360 on the old TV in his bedroom. They’ll tell us to suck it up. But how do I choose? I know I should get 1080p, but that’s about all I know. I hear all sorts of conflicting reports on which type of TV is best. I hear one isn’t good in bright light, another isn’t good from side angles, and even that lower refresh rates ruin everything? How am I supposed to sort through this mess? Leave any suggestions and advice below.