Lord Maitreya's Internet Marketing Adventures

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Motion Blur and You

I recently got an HDTV as a gift to myself for being so awesome this semester.  It’s a 42″ Vizio, 60hz, 5ms response time monster of a TV.  The picture quality is awesome, the color is vibrant, and it has speakers that inexplicably surround the screen (but who am I to complain).  For a lame-ass picture of it, see below:

Image coutesy of Overstock.com

I got the thing as a refurbished model for 599.99 (and I got the 2 year service plan for an extra 80 or something).  That means I got a killer deal, because this TV is normally hundreds of dollars more.  However, these LCD TV’s come with an unintended side effect: motion blur.

Motion blur is NOT to be confused with “ghosting,” which is a side effect of buying a crappy HDTV.  The fist HDTV I got over the summer was from Best Buy.  It was a 37″ Dynex, 1080p model for 499.  I thought I was getting a good deal, except that when I plugged in my Xbox 360 and started to move the camera, things would leave trails all over the screen.  Pissed off, I returned the TV within an hour, content that my revenge was already complete, in that Best Buy now had to sell the piece of crap as an opened return for hundreds of dollars less.

So I did some research (LOTS of research actually) and then came upon this killer deal on Overstock.com with this awesome Vizio.  1080p? Check.  Low response time?  Check.  Everything seemed in order.  But then I got it, plugged in my Xbox with my new HDMI cable, and I began to notice something: textures blur a little when the camera moves.  I was apalled.  I was pissed.  I was foaming at the mouth.  So I went to work, where I was on a dispatch shift and I decided to play some games.  We have a 40″ Samsung (which is also 1080p) in the office, and I had always admired the picture quality and resolution on it, which is what inspired me to get an HDTV in the first place.  Lo and behold, the motion blur was present on that TV as well.

Here is the thing: LCD TV’s refresh at a lower rate than your boxy old “tube” TV.  A MUCH lower rate.  This causes textures to become slightly distorted during movement.  The faster the movement, the greater the distortion.  At first, I regretted my purchase of my totally badass new TV.  But then I realized something as I was driving on the highway: in real life, when things move quickly, you CAN’T pick out the textures on them unless you are focusing on them directly, a phenomenon well represented on my HDTV.  If you are playing, say Call of Duty, and you turn while moving forward and keeping something in the center of your vision, everything else becomes blurred while the thing you are focusing on is clear as day.  Isn’t this almost MORE real than simply having all textures rendered at full quality all the time?

While the motion blur is certainly noticeable if you are looking for it (which I kind of am, because I’m scrutinizing the living hell out of this TV), I would hardly say it’s a dealbreaker for me on this TV.  The resolution is almost 3x higher than on a normal TV, and the movement during cutscenes leaves my jaw earthbound.  If I were you, I’d strike now and get a refurbed HDTV for hundreds of dollars less.  I just got a 40″ 1080p (the highest resolution currently available) with a service plan for less than $700.  My family room has a 40″ tube TV that we got about ten years ago for well over double that price.  My family now watches movies in MY room while I’m out at work.

Plasma screens don’t have motion blur, but they cost more, the image burns into the screen, they use more power, and they only last about a third as long.  In my opinion, the motion blur phenomenon is hardly reason enough to avoid an LCD TV.  I say go for it if you’re willing to take the plunge.  Motion blur aside, once you go HD, you can never watch standard definition again.  God, I can’t watch our living room TV anymore.  I can’t even see the pores in John Stewart’s face on that TV.

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May 19, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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