|Sharp AQUOS 70-inch 3D LED Smart TV
Size matters, and anyone who says differently is just trying to protect your feelings.
As someone whose job involves playing video games (it's more complicated than just that, I swear), I often find myself upgrading my television equipment. It's not that I need a bigger screen to game on; I want a bigger screen, and I use my job as an excuse to justify it. Credit card companies love me.
Since the dawn of the high-definition TV era, I've gone from a 34-inch Toshiba HDTV -- a 175-pound behemoth that took two strong people to move -- to a 42-inch Samsung to a 47-inch LG to a 55-inch Panasonic. But lately I've been rocking a 70-inch screen, a size which a couple of months ago would have sounded impossibly, obscenely large.
But now? Now it almost feels like I could go bigger.
Electronics giant Sharp makes the largest consumer HDTVs currently available. If you want your neighbours to feel inadequate about their itty bitty 60-inch screen, the Sharp AQUOS 90-inch 240-Hz 3-D LED HDTV (OMG, WTF) can be yours for a mere $9,999, not including the cost of adding an extension to your house to fit the thing.
For the last month or so I've been gaming on its little (ha!) sister, the 70-inch Sharp AQUOS LC70LE845U (a slightly less gasp-inducing $4,199), because my wee condo living room wasn't big enough to allow me to test the 80-inch or 90-inch units.
As a gamer, this thing is a dream come true. The sheer eyeball-consuming size of the screen makes games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim feel just that much more immersive -- I can almost count the fletchings on the arrow in that guy's knee.
The screen size also lends itself to split-screen play, giving each player a generous chunk of visual real estate to work with. Team up for co-op in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and you spend more time killing, less time squinting.
Sharp's higher-end TVs employ Quattron technology -- you've seen George "Mr. Sulu" Takei talking about it in commercials -- which boosts colour vibrancy, especially in yellows and oranges. The omni-tool in Mass Effect 3 never looked more glowy.
And the AQUOS is also 3-D-ready, using separately sold 3-D glasses. But even though more and more games support 3-D, I find it's exactly like 3-D movies -- the novelty wears off quickly and you just want to play au naturel.
There are a lot of things I like about this TV. It's huge, it's thin, and it's got just about every bell and whistle imaginable. And because it's LCD/LED, it's immune from the image retention issues that can affect plasma TVs used for marathon gaming sessions. Something I've learned the hard way.
It's not perfect though. The black levels on the AQUOS aren't amazing, and the off-angle viewing also isn't great, in that colours start to wash out a bit at anything more than 20 degrees from centre. And let's face it, it ain't cheap to buy.
Still, it's a heck of an experience to play games on a screen this size. My demo unit has to go back to Sharp right away, which means I'll retrieve my 55-inch TV from the friends who have been babysitting it (sorry, guys) and adjust to a screen that will no longer seem as impressive as it once did. Problems don't get much more first-world than that.