Questions about PC-TV connection (HDMI)

#1 Posted by armaan8014 (5402 posts) -

So I had been planning to get an HDMI cable to connect my laptop to a 28" TV, and buy an X360 controller so that I could lie on a bed and play games more comfortably. Also, I should specify I haven't owned a console for the past two generations (meaning gens that included ps2 and then ps3) So I don't know much about HDTV gaming.

The main problem is, I realized, that my TV's native resolution is 1360x768. My laptop's is 1600x900 (15")

At first I thought I was being limited by the use of a VGA cable that wouldn't allow HD resolutions, and that an HDMI would set this right, but after a bit of research i'm assuming I thought wrong, right? The only difference is that HDMI carries sound etc as well? Also, I haven't exactly checked my TV model's resolution but nowhere it says Full HD, instead it says HD ready.

So assuming that that is the maximum resolution my TV is capable of showing, my next question is - What exactly is the difference between the experience of 1600x900 on 15" vs 1360x768 on 28"?

I have by default always assumed that more resolution = better. Realizing that my TV's resolution is 1360x768 made me quite sad until I actually hooked it up (and ran Far Cry 3). For some reason, I can't really tell the difference, except for the ratio.

Butwhen I go 1360x768 on the laptop screen it looks like shit. It looks like what I expected to see on the TV at that resolution, yet the image on the TV looked almost as sharp as the 1600x900 image on the laptop.

So is it something like, as long as it's the screen's own native resolution, it will look equally good(or almost equally good) across different screens?

Other than blurriness, what does resolution affect? I noticed, while comparing screenshots, that the 1600x900 images seemed to have softer, mistier shadows and edges while the 1360x768 image had higher contrast in shadows and sharper edges. Does the change in resolution affect anything else graphically?

Also, other than resolution, is there any built in difference between a laptop screen and a TV screen in terms of image quality? Like are TVs built to provide better picture than laptop screens? (which would give it a slight upper hand in quality except for the resolution issue)

I ask that^ because I noticed better colors (saturation) on the TV as compared to the laptop display which looked less saturated and a little dull in comparison.

And my final question, will playing a game on my TV @ 1360x768 give me a slight performance increase as compared to 1600x900 on my laptop thanks to drop in resolution? Does it mean my frame rate will go up and I can push other graphical settings little higher?

I haven't owned a console but I've heard that their games weren't designed in full res. So does that mean console owners have always been playing at, well, "720p"?

So to sum it up my main concerns are-

1. Do VGA and HDMI connections offer the same visual quality? (resolution wise and otherwise)

2. Is it actually TV (1360x768) = Lappy(1600x900), and both > Lappy (1360x768)? Is it because of native res?

3. Does change in resolution affect other graphical aspects?

4. Do TVs offer better image quality than monitors by default?

5. Will 1360x768 offer better framerate than 1600x900?

6. Have console owners always played games of this resolution (regardless of their TVs res)

7. Is 1360x768 crap by default (as I used to think earlier) or does it depend on the native res of the screen?

Thanks for reading all the way through if you did :P I've just realized how many misconceptions I've had about display resolutions.

#2 Posted by armaan8014 (5402 posts) -

It would be much better if you could read the whole post rather than just the questions at the end, as that will explain everything much clearer. Thanks :)

#3 Edited by isomeri (1273 posts) -

I was actually in a similar situation a few years back when I owned a 720p TV and had it hooked up to my 1080p computer display, so I'll try and give some answers even though I'm no expert.

1. You can output full 1080p through VGA, but it is an analog connection so you will see some deterioration in image quality. It might not be noticeable for you, but it's definitely there. I had my Xbox 360 hooked up via VGA for years and I didn't see any issues with it until I switched to using HDMI. HDMI is a digital connector, so you either get the signal at full quality or you get no signal. If possible you should go with HDMI.

2. What matters is pixel density and from what distance you look at the screen. If you look at both screens from the same relative distance, so that the laptop screen and the TV screen fill up the same area of your vision, then you should notice that the laptop screen is more accurate. However the difference between those two resolutions is not so great, so you may not see any difference at all. And native resolution always looks a bit nicer.

3. An increase in resolution makes it possible to show more detail on the screen so you may become aware of certain graphical aspects which you weren't aware of before. Things like fine particle effects and anti-aliasing only really show themselves at higher resolutions.

4. A TV is not by any means automatically better than a computer screen. Screen technology is pretty uniform nowadays and manufacturers use roughly the same panel technology in their TV's, computer screens and tablets. A few years back my PC screen was much nicer than my TV and now after buying a brand new TV it's again much nicer than my aging PC screen. I would have to know some more specifics of your equipment to say which screen is better, but I could roughly say that the screen which is newer is likely to have better blacks, colors, contrast and so on.

5. Resolution affects frame rate in PC games. Higher resolutions demand more from your PC, so your FPS is likely to drop as your computer struggles to produce more detail on screen. I wouldn't imagine that the difference in performance between those two specific resolutions wouldn't be all that great.

6. Not all modern console games are rendered stricktly in 720p or 1080p, so the upscalers in the console or the TV will have to match the resolution of the game to that of the TV. For example Halo 3 runs at around 640p, but it is upscaled by the console to 1080p. The upscaler does not increase the quality of the game, but merely stretches and softens it so that it'll look nicer on a higher resolution screen.

7. Displaying a 1360x768 signal on a 1080p screen would be noticeably weird, but if it's the natural resolution of your screen then it'll look as good as it can since it's using 100% of the screens resolution potential.

#4 Edited by armaan8014 (5402 posts) -

@isomeri: Haha so it's all about 100% :D

Thanks a lot for that in -depth reply! I have already decided to get an HDMI, as it will make the connection part less of a hassle plus I'll be able to use my TV's (better) speakers.

Thing is, I've usually kept my AA options of for better FPS. I guess I could turn those on now by dropping the resolution for the TV.

So overall would you say that the experience of using both those screens at their own resolutions (at different distances) would be more or less (noticeably) same?

Man it's quite hard to believe that though, after all this years of me thinking resolution was the #1 priority thing when it came to better graphics (although this is a case of different screens which changes things)

Thanks a lot again!

#5 Posted by isomeri (1273 posts) -

@armaan8014: The resolution difference is small enough that games should look about the same on both screens. But I don't know what kind of response time, contrast etc. those screens have.

Resolution is important up to a point, but things like AA can make games look nice even on lower resolutions. I always try to play my PC games at the native resolution of the screen and then fix the rest of the settings to make the game run smooth and look nice. If your laptop has an Nvidia GPU then you could try and download the GeForce Experience software from their website. It analyzes your PC and what games you have installed and can autimagically change the graphical settings of those games to fit the performance of your computer. I use it for most of my games.

#6 Posted by armaan8014 (5402 posts) -

@isomeri: Yep, I have that but I never really used it cause I sort of wanted higher settings than what it seemed to recommend. But I checked it out again after reading your reply and saw that it would actually be better to let it optimize, and so I did.

Guess I'll go ahead with buying that HDMI cable and the controller. AC4 should be fun from the bed :P Thanks again for all the help!

#7 Posted by armaan8014 (5402 posts) -

Anybody who wants to share more knowledge on the topic can gladly do so here even though that ^ answer solved my confusions :)

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