CTIA snooping is in full swing today, as the HTC EVO 3D has seen its major specs divulged courtesy of a document within the exhibition halls of the show. True to our initial scoop and subsequent spec leak, we’re looking at a 3D-capable successor to the EVO 4G, this one rocking a 1.2GHz dual-core processor (Qualcomm’s MSM8660), a 4.3-inch qHD ( 960 x 540) display, dual 5 megapixel cameras around back, and the sweet, sweet promise of 1080p video playback. That’s constrained to 720p for viewing 3D content, but there’s no denying this new Sprint smartphone’s shaping up to be yet another multimedia powerhouse. Specs of the EVO View tablet have also been snapped, marking it as indeed a Sprint rebadge of HTC’s 1.5GHz, 7-inch Flyer slate. Look for both to become official at Sprint’s presser later this week.
Amimon, via Gizmodo
I’ve read various articles debating the importance of the 1080p. I want to set the record straight once and for all: if you are serious about properly setting up your viewing room, you will definitely benefit from 1080p (and even 1440p.) Why? Because the 1080p resolution is the first to deliver enough detail to your eyeball when you are seated at the proper distance from the screen. But don’t just take my word for it: read on for the proof.
There are a few obvious factors to being able to detect resolution differences: the resolution of the screen, the size of the screen, and the viewing distance. To be able to detect differences between resolutions, the screen must be large enough and you must sit close enough. So the question becomes “How do I know if need a higher resolution or not?”. Here is your answer.
Based on the resolving ability of the human eye (with 20/20 vision it is possible to resolve 1/60th of a degree of an arc), it is possible to estimate when the differences between resolutions will become apparent. Using the Home Theater Calculator spreadsheet as a base, I created a chart showing, for any given screen size, how close you need to sit to be able to detect some or all of the benefits of a higher resolution screen. (Click the picture below for a larger version.)
What the chart shows is that, for a 50-inch screen, the benefits of 720p vs. 480p start to become apparent at viewing distances closer than 14.6 feet and become fully apparent at 9.8 feet. For the same screen size, the benefits of 1080p vs. 720p start to become apparent when closer than 9.8 feet and become full apparent at 6.5 feet. In my opinion, 6.5 feet is closer than most people will sit to their 50″ plasma TV (even through the THX recommended viewing distance for a 50″ screen is 5.6 ft). So, most consumers will not be able to see the full benefit of their 1080p TV.
However, front projectors and rear projection displays are a different story. They make it very easy to obtain large screen sizes. Plus, LCD and Plasma displays are constantly getting larger and less expensive. In my home, for example, I have a 123-inch screen and a projector with a 1280×720 resolution. For a 123-inch screen, the benefits of 720p vs. 480p starts to become apparent at viewing distances closer than 36 feet (14 feet behind my back wall) and become fully apparent at 24 feet (2 feet behind my back wall). For the same screen size, the benefits of 1080p vs. 720p start to become apparent when closer than 24 feet and become full apparent at 16 feet (just between the first and second row of seating in my theater). This means that people in the back row of my home theater would see some improvement if I purchased a 1080p projector and that people in the front row would notice a drastic improvement. (Note: the THX recommended max viewing distance for a 123″ screen is 13.7 feet).
So, how close should you be sitting to your TV? Obviously, you need to look at your room and see what makes sense for how you will be using it. If you have a dedicated viewing room and can place seating anywhere you want, you can use this chart as a guideline. It’s based on THX and SMPTE specifications for movie theaters; the details are available in the Home Theater Calculator spreadsheet.
Looking at this chart, it is apparent that 1080p is the lowest resolution to fall within the recommended seating distance range. Any resolution less than 1080p is not detailed enough if you are sitting the proper distance from the screen. For me and many people with large projection screens, 1080p is the minimum resolution you’d want.
In fact, you could probably even benefit from 1440p. If you haven’t heard of 1440p, you will. Here’s a link to some info on Audioholics.com. It is part of the HDMI 1.3 spec, along with 48-bit color depth, and will probably surface for the public in 2009 or so. You’ll partially be able to see the benefits of 1440p at the THX Max Recommended viewing distance and the resolution benefits will be fully apparent if you are just a little closer. I’ve read of plans for resolutions reaching 2160p but I don’t see any benefit; you’d have to sit too darn close to the screen to notice any improvement. If you sit too close, you can’t see the far edges of the screen.
In conclusion: If you are a videophile with a properly setup viewing room, you should definitely be able to notice the resolution enhancement that 1080p brings. However, if you are an average consumer with a plasma on the far wall of your family room, you are not likely to be sitting close enough to notice any advantage. Check the chart above and use that to make your decision. And remember, the the most important aspects of picture quality are (in order): 1) contrast ratio, 2) color saturation, 3) color accuracy, 4) resolution. Resolution is 4th on the list and plasma is generally superior to LCD in all of these areas. So pick your display size, then measure your seating distance, and then use the charts above to figure out if you would benefit from the larger screen size.
Dean Takahashi of the Mercury News says—after 10 paragraphs that don’t even mention gaming—that the Xbox 360 only has games currently at 720p, whereas the PS3 has about half its games supporting 1080p. He recommends a TV with HDMI for the PS3, but if you have a 360 you’re going to have to go with component. After testing with all of three TVs, two of which were 720p, he recommends you go 720p until 1080p becomes more widespread in gaming.
So yes, Dean takes 34 paragraphs to say that you don’t really need a 1080p set, because it’s hard to tell the difference between 1080p and 720p.
THANKS! Gamers are totally set for the HDTV revolution now. ~where’s that eye rolling icon when you need it!
Last week Sony promised a patch to fix the problem, but it appears the solution may be more complex; the PS3 not supporting such high-definitinon TVs at a hardware level. Promises of a fix have also subsequently disappeared though the platform holder do assure us they are looking into the problem.
Now Microsoft’s Andre Vrignaud (Xbox Live technical strategy director), speaking on his personal blog, has twisted the knife into Sony over this problem, stating a fix could be very difficult: “…it appears there’s no internal hardware scaler in the PS3. As reported, it appears the PS3 is unable to output a consistent signal to your TV based upon your desired selection (ie, what your TV supports). This means that while I might want to play Resistance in 1080i, if the game doesn’t support it the console drops down to a lower-common denominator of 480p. The game then tells me that if I want to play in the best quality, I need to quit out, go to the dashboard, change the PS3’s resolution to 720p, and then relaunch the game. Oh, and when I return from the game, I’m obviously still at 720p, and not the 1080i I’d prefer to navigate the dash with. I experienced this myself and I can tell you it’s hugely frustrating.”
Vrignaud concluded: “This issue also affects people who have older HDTVs that only support 480i/480p and 1080i (not 720p – this was pretty common with earlier CRT HDTVs). These folks have no way to scale the game’s output to 1080i, and are thus forced to play in 480i/p. This smells of the console being rushed to market, and I’m not holding out any hopes for any significant fix. It’s bad, and feels like something Sony would have fixed if possible. My guess is the ‘fix’ they’re working on is going to be a bit of streamlining in the dashboard (perhaps a switch to automatically change back to 1080i/p when returning from a game), but the core issue isn’t going to be fixed. I hope I’m wrong, though, for the sake of all those folks having problems.”
More bad news for Sony? Quite possibly, though given this expert’s employer it would be rash to write-off Sony’s chances of satisfying owners of older HD sets, even if at the moment the situation is ambiguous. We’ll keep you posted.
Check it out!
Take it as you will, whether you prefer 1080i or 480p. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 currently upscales 720p to 1080i if necessary (i.e. 720p is not supported).
[Thanks, Kumar Shah and Miniboss]
[Update 1: Doing a little more research after reading many of the comments, turns out we might have been too generous in saying that most older HDTVs support 720p. We took out that sentence; just be sure to know what you set does and does not support. Also, rephrased the 480p vs. 1080i. I just tested the difference. Yeah, a bit different.]
A developer has come out and commented on the next generation of hardware, stating that claims of the PS3 being more powerful than the 360 are unfounded. He says they have their differences, but results are the same.
Denis Dyack, president of Silicon Knights (and currently working on Too Human), has come out and spoken on the power of each of the consoles. While the PS3 is perceived to be the better console, it is actually just as powerful as the 360; no more, no less, from a developers point of view at least.
“The 360 and the PS 3 are equal in power in my eyes. Maybe the PS 3 has more processing power. The 360 has more available memory. It’s pretty much a net, net. The public perception of the PS 3 was that it was much more powerful. To developers, they look even.”
A potential blow to Sony who like to boast about their console being two times more powerful? Well, quite possibly, because it was one thing that Sony had hoped would give them an edge over competitiors. If multiplatform games are exactly the same (no improvement on graphics, gameplay, load speeds and so on) then why would anyone spend $599 (£450) on a PS3, when the 360 does it for considerably less dosh? The one thing Sony do have up their sleeve though is HDMI output, offering better visuals all round. Oh wait…
Dyack says that he believes that HDMI cable interfaces will make a difference in visual quality. That gives an edge to the PS 3. But he noted that authoring games in 720P resolution “looks nice.” He adds, “It is questionable if there is a difference between 1080P and 720P. All of our games are likely to be 720P because of the faster refresh rates. There are all kinds of trade-offs. It takes a lot more RAM to do 1080P. You’ll reserve RAM for the textures. 720P is just less pixels. There is definitely a huge difference from 720P and analog.”
I think that the idea of producing games in 720p will be used for many years to come. At least until developers have spent time with the system (360 included) and found ways to save space on the texture side of things to free up more RAM. At least one developer has already given up producing games in 1080p, due to the problem of frame rates and the like. Also, bearing in mind that 1080p isn’t common in anything but monitors at the moment, what would be the point in wasting man-power on developing something so few would benefit from.
Taking a step away from the on-going battle of “my console’s better than yours”, Dyack also mentions just how expensive the industry is getting.
“It’s starting to approach the cost of small budget movies,” Dyack said. “It will be there by the end of this generation.” […] Dyack says the costs of development are rising every year. “It is more risky for everybody,” he said.
It’s worrying that developing games is beginning to cost such a high amount. For small developers, who may not have publisher backing, they might be put off the idea of developing new games, leaving us with EA drip-feeding the population with the same churned out bullshit that we get year in, year out. Bear that in mind if you buy pirated copies of games.
Interestingly, he also hates E3; every gamers dream, every developers nightmare. He used to enjoy it, but blames the press for being too critical on content that isn’t even finished yet. (Wouldn’t have anything to do with their poor showing of Too Human at E3 would it?)
Dyack was suitably delighted when news came through of E3’s demise
Thanks to steggles for submitting.
[Via AV Watch]
However, sources are not in agreement as to the extent of tomorrow’s 1080p upgrade. While some are reporting they’ve been given a heads-up that the upgrade will apply only to streaming video content from Xbox Live and from connected PCs using Windows XP Media Player 11 (officially released just today), others are quite emphatically stating the release will scale up all content, including games, that are output to high-definition displays.
While the first wave of HD DVD videos, which have been available for some months now, were encoded for 1080i only, more recently, studios have been switching over as HD DVD console manufacturers have been making room for 1080p-capable models for sales during the holidays.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting this afternoon that Microsoft does not plan to drop its prices for Xbox 360 this season. As a result, an Xbox 360 + HD DVD combo could end up selling for exactly the same price as a Blu-ray endowed PS3. When that happens, the question in some consumers’ minds may turn to the number of titles available for both formats.
Although Blu-ray was supposed to be the favorite among more studios, and the early favorite among technology analysts, continuing delays in console rollouts throughout this year have led many studios to postpone their Blu-ray title rollouts until more consoles are publicly available. So today, the relative breadth of title availability between both formats may be about even.
With no apparent edge in that department either, consumers may look to the variety of game titles available for both consoles, and here customers may discover Microsoft’s one-year head-start to provide a built-in advantage.