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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:
$500-$999mag

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.


Budget of older gamers or those that have parents with deep pockets:
$1000-$1999sam

This is where the real choices are at. Gamers are a weird crowd and want the best biggest bang for their buck. I don’t blame ‘em. The Xbox 360 would look amazing on a nice big 57-inch rear projection. It's easy to "over-buy" when you go shopping in a large store so check out this edition of the HDTV Buying Guide to help you decide on a size.

$1700 could get you one of these.


We're looking for a HDTV for high-def gaming though and the plasma is not HD so lets throw that one out. The LCD is not the best and doesn' have a great response time. The tube will give you the best black levels and the best colors but it's small. This leaves us with the rear-projection sets.

A nice CRT rear-projection will give a gamer a great big experience. There is some slight possibility for burn-in on any CRT type display, but that is so rare; as long as you are aware of it, there should be no problem. The LCD/DLP however will give a person a quicker and smoother picture courtesy of 720p.


Credit, credit, credit:
$2,000 plussony

Everything we have talked about before applies but just at a larger scale. The only thing that is different is that a gamer could get a high-def plasma. Gamers, and people in general, have frowned at plasma because of burn-in issues. These problems have been reduced and should not cause the average gamer any problems, but if you are one to pull all-nighters, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.

For some gamers, money is not a problem and those new 1080p sets may look very tempting. But you need to be careful. Most of them do not accept a 1080p signal but rather take the 1080i and convert up to it. (Sony SXRDs and Samsung 78 series DLPs for example) This is not a problem for the 720p/1080i Xbox 360 but the PS3 does support 1080p gaming. If you can wait to get a 1080p TV until there is more widespread support for 1080p inputs, it would be a wiser investment.

Whatever TV you decide to pair with that brand new 360 will be great. Just make sure that it supports 720p and has component inputs. The fine details like size and types are up to you but we hope that this guide helped to steer you in the right path. Share your thoughts in our comments and tell us what HDTV set you're pairing up with a new Xbox 360!


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HDTV Buying Guide: Xbox 360 Edition