Every Tuesday, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities.
It may be time for Nintendo to concede that we've entered the HD-era. Anyone looking to buy a new television will have an increasingly difficult time finding a "classic" SD tube amongst the pristine plasmas, elegant LCoS, lavish LCDs, dazzling DLPs, and (soon-to-come) sexy SEDs. And the technologies behind today's televisions are benefiting greatly from economies of scale, making it easier for consumers to consider going big on their next TV purchase.
For too long, big screen gaming had been confined to dollar-munching arcade machines and reruns of Silver Spoons, but more and more people are finding out what it feels like to have a truly super Mario kicking gargantuan goombas across the Mushroom Kingdom. If you haven't yet been bitten by the big bug, today I'll make you feel the itch.
There are many resources you can use to find a big screen setup that meets your needs and budget. The community at AVS Forum will probably give you better informed tips than the employees at your nearest electronics megastore, but be advised - you'll pay a heavy fee of your time, wading through thread upon thread of enthusiast commentary and banter. Even if you go with whatever package the blue shirts sell you on, you'd do well to check AVS for advice on configuring your gear for the best image quality it can muster.
Many of you upgrading to a projector or freestanding TV will need to ditch your old TV stand and find a new component rack or audio tower to place your A/V receivers, cable/satellite receivers, and video game consoles. But as big screens get lighter and more compact, they sometimes require a wide stand, and you can put your components inside that. Wall-mounters can go either the stand or the tower route, and there are even stands now which incorporate mounting plates for flat panels.
Projector purchasers may also have to use an alternate IR source or come up with a way to jury-rig their Sensor Bars near the screen, which will often be located on the opposite side of the room from the Wii.
I knew there'd be a use for those twisty-ties I never throw out!
Up until a few weeks ago, I'd been filming most of my script demonstrations in front of a HD 57" RP CRT. Though it wasn't the ideal display for video shoots, it was fantastic for setting the arcade mood and drove the experience even further when coupled with surround sound. The first time I plummeted off one of the more extreme drops in F-Zero GX, it evoked the full roller coaster feeling of weightlessness and my stomach rising into my throat. I recently upgraded to a front projecting DLP, and the larger field of view makes the sensation all the more surreal when I'm sitting in the cockpit of Samus' ship, acting out the gestures and motions that she's doing on screen.
Whether you're playing Resident Evil 4 or Wii Sports, immersion is brought to a higher state with a bigger screen. Add 1:1 gestures to life-sized sports equipment, and we go a step beyond arcade and closer to reality!
When I first set up this projector in a room 11 feet long, the throw distance gave me a picture that was 77 inches diagonally, matching my calculations. That left me somewhat disappointed, being that my 92-inch screen had a lot of area uncovered. Then I figured I could extend my throw by mounting the projector midway from the screen and the opposite wall, with the image projecting onto a mirror that reflects it back to the screen. So now that I'm in a smaller room (eight feet long), using the mirror trick gets me nearly total coverage of the screen. And now I'm that much closer to realizing my dream of playing Street Fighter with life-sized characters.
The reflected image is bigger than it would have been if projected directly
The Wii's pointers are bigger than my own hands!
This week's Revolutionary is not intended to make anyone feel insecure or that their display is inadequate. As long as you can see your Miis, your setup is good to go. In a strange way, that's part of the Wii's charm - how you can enjoy it regardless of what the games look like. But should you find yourself in the market for a new TV, you'll be in for a more immersive gaming experience if you decide to go big.
Drop a comment to tell us what types of games you think would benefit the most from a big screen setup, or what games you're most looking forward to playing on a big screen.