How video games have influenced the technologies of our televisions

Originally created to be more accessible gaming machines than an imposing arcade terminal or an expensive computer, game consoles first aimed to be compatible with a device present in a large number of homes. : the television set.

Over time, they have even adapted to the latest technologies from the computer world, to the point of permanently changing the way manufacturers design their televisions in order to adapt them to our consoles, rather than the reverse. Today, some models highlight functions specifically dedicated to the latest gaming machines.

The increase in definition

In 2005, with the release of the Xbox 360, and especially in 2006 with the arrival of the PlayStation 3, new ways of displaying images on our TVs appeared. In France, the more than obsolete Scart socket is gradually giving way to a standard that is much easier to use and allows you to display a much better image: HDMI.

The socket is smaller, but its main interest is to transport a digital signal in a much higher definition at the time, with images of a size of 1,920×1,080 (1080p) pixels at most. The cinema obviously benefits from this, but it is the PS3 (the cheapest Blu-Ray player at the time of its release) which has accelerated this transition.

Quickly, televisions adapted to this standard, in particular by standardizing the definition of their panels. Several buttons appear in the corner of models presented in stores, supposed to determine the image quality you can expect from a model, the most common being HD Ready (1,280×720 pixels) and Full HD (1,920 ×1080).

Sony’s PS5 promises 8K gaming, but you won’t be seeing that on this machine anytime soon.©Sony Interactive Entertainment

Today, Full HD has almost completely disappeared in favor of 4K (3,840×2,160). Be careful though: Sony and Microsoft will promise you 8K gaming (7,680×4,320 pixels) on PS5 and Xbox Series, but make no mistake, this is just marketing and nothing else. These consoles are not powerful enough to ensure an enjoyable gaming experience in this definition.

60 to 120 Hz in game

The frequency of our TVs has changed somewhat in Europe in recent years. From the 50 Hz of our old cathode-ray tubes, set to the frequency of our electrical outlets, digital models have gradually moved to 60 frames per second (a standard in the world of PC video games) and today allow themselves to climb to much higher values.

There have long been televisions offering their own frequency at the discretion of the manufacturer, some going up to 100 or 200 Hz. But the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S in 2020 contributed to the arrival of a new standard on our screens: 120 Hz. The advantages of such an increase in the frame rate are multiple: the fluidity of movements is improved, offering a visually more pleasant experience, and latency is often reduced (the sampling of commands on the joystick that can be doubled in 120 Hz compared to 60).

Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Console 120Hz support depends on games, some, like Assassin’s Creed Valhallaoffer it directly.©Ubisoft

VRR and FreeSync to improve fluidity

Another technology inherited directly from the world of PC video games by our TVs is the variable refresh rate. Since the arrival of the HDMI 2.1 standard, adopted by the PS5 and the Xbox Series, it is possible to transport a signal comprising a variable frame rate, as long as the receiver (here, your television) is able to decode it and that its slab is suitable.

The HDMI Forum (which brings together several manufacturers such as Panasonic, Philips or Sony) calls this standard VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), but many manufacturers (Samsung, LG, Panasonic or Toshiba, for example) have also adopted an older standard but all fully compatible: FreeSync.

Samsung Freesync
Samsung offers several FreeSync compatible models, which take advantage of the advances of the PS5 and Xbox Series.©Samsung

Developed by AMD in 2015 to improve the PC gaming experience, FreeSync is able to adapt the display frequency of the screen to the capabilities of the graphics card (or, in our case, the console) connected. Indeed, it is difficult in a video game to obtain a fixed display frequency throughout the game, and manufacturers and developers have long had to use various technical workarounds, for example by limiting the display frequency directly in the game, to ensure a consistent experience.

With variable refresh technology, combined with a high-frequency panel (modern consoles handle up to 120Hz), these technical limitations can now be ignored without hampering the experience. Also, when a scene loaded with action arrives and the display frequency of the console drops significantly, the FreeSync allows you to maintain a certain fluidity of the image so that you don’t notice anything on your television.

However, pay attention to the technical specifications of your television when purchasing: the FreeSync operates on a frequency range defined by the manufacturer. Outside of this area, the image processing algorithms will no longer apply, and you may notice noticeable drops in fluidity. Also, you’ll want your model to have a range between 48-120Hz, which should ensure the best experience on a console.

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