BUSTED: 27 Most Dangerous Gaming Myths

MYTH: Component video is just as good as HDMI for HD video

08

Not really. This myth, popularly repeated on the internet, has enduring appeal. Let's put it to rest right now: because it's a digital signal, an HDMI connection will usually look crisper and cleaner than a component connection, particularly when viewed on a large (42'' or higher) HDTV. Now, that doesn't mean that component video is bad or ugly; far from it. Component video serves up excellent HD quality, going as high as 1080p depending on your TV's compatibility. And component video isn't protected by DRM limitations, making it a popular (and flexible) choice for home theater buffs.

But component video is also an analog technology, meaning it's more vulnerable to background interference and noise...both of which are common in a typical home theater setup. Bent or looped analog cables - again, common in many homes - can also cause slight signal degradation. This quality loss isn't something that will immediately pop out at you, but when compared to a comparable HDMI signal, you'll see the difference. HDMI also has another big advantage in that it combines video and audio into one convenient cable, versus 5 or more A/V cables on an analog HD setup. That alone is a major advantage.

We're not knocking component; we're simply saying that, for most typical gamers, HDMI is the preferable choice. If you're stuck with an old-school HDTV with only component video, you shouldn't worry - it's not worth shelling out for a HDMI-equipped TV just for the infinitesimal quality boost. But if you have a choice between plugging your PS3 into the HDMI port or the component port, the best choice is HDMI. Of course, the smartest action is to try both signals and see what looks best on your particular TV. Your eyes will thank you.

MYTH: When a game says it runs at 720p or 1080p, it's always telling the truth.

09

Definitely not. This is primarily a marketing tool used by game publishers (and hardware makers) to entice HD TV owners. In fact, virtually no Xbox 360 games, and slim handful of PS3 games, run in true 1080p. The vast majority run in 720p and are stretched to fill the 1080 resolution. Most folks, as you might guess, won't notice the difference.

Perhaps more surprising is that many PS3 and Xbox 360 games don't even run in true 720p. For instance, the PS3 version of The Darkness runs at only 1024x576 pixels, a far cry from the 1280x720 pixels defined by 720p. This isn't a problem limited to PS3 games, either. The Xbox 360 version of Tony Hawk's Project 8 runs at 1040x584, while Halo 3 tops out at 1152x640. Where do the missing pixels go? Mostly to fancier special effects, crisper textures, and smoother framerates; upsampling handles the rest.

It's even worse on the 1080p front, with only several games hitting the full 1920x1080 resolution: Virtua Tennis 3 (both PS3 and 360), NBA 07 and 08 (PS3), Full Auto 2 (PS3), and NBA Street (360) are the only major titles we know that manage to hit the full 1080p resolution.

MYTH: EA will take over all of video gaming.

010

Probably not. On a gut level, consumers tend to mistrust companies that perform "too well." Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Disney, Sony, and even Google have felt the wrath of suspicious consumers and lawmakers. EA is in a similar position in the video game industry, having long occupied the top slot among third-party publishers. Part of this success lies in its yearly franchise sequels, sports licenses, and increasingly licensed movie games, a fact that tends to frustrate hardcore gamers hoping for fresh experiences.

Even now, the tides are changing. Activision is becoming an increasingly stiff competitor for EA, particularly with mega-sellers like Call of Duty 4 (which is vastly outselling its competition, EA's Medal of Honor Airborne) and Guitar Hero. And even EA's venerable Madden series is starting to show signs of strain, with Madden NFL 08 selling lower-than-expected numbers on the popular PS2. EA will remain one of the biggest players in gaming for years to come, but it's unlikely they will become a truly dominating presence.

MYTH: Downloads will completely replace disc-based games.

Not for years and years. Physical media will continue to dominate game formats for years to come, whether that media is a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, or a RAM chip. Game downloads will continue to grow, perhaps rapidly, but internet bandwidth and server capacity will remain a limiting factor for years to come, particularly in broadband-starved North America. Hard drive space is another huge consideration: the 20 and 40 GB found in the Xbox 360 and PS3 just aren't enough to hold lots of large games.

Where downloadable games will shine will be in the casual sector. Cell phones, handheld gaming systems, PCs, and MP3 players will benefit most from downloadable gaming. Home gaming consoles will continue to rely on optical discs for their big titles, while supplementing with more casual-friendly downloadable fare. We do expect to see more experimentation with offering large downloadable games (Sony is particularly interested in this tactic, offering large games like PS3 shooter Warhawk and the upcoming SOCOM: Confrontation as downloads). But this practice won't become mainstay until hard drives are tiny, cheap, and enormous (i.e. over a terabyte).

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Gary Anthes

GamePro (online)
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