What It's Like To Game On A $20,000 100-Inch Laser TV

Image: Kotaku

I still remember carrying a 13-inch dodgy CRT screen to my first few LANs, so when the prospect of playing a range of games on Hisense's gargantuan 100-inch laser TV cropped up, of course I was going to say yes.

I first checked out Hisense's 100-inch laser TV at CES, ahead of its Australian launch later this year. It was interesting right off the bat, if only because most people don't own or live in spaces that can accommodate an 100-inch TV. And Hisense's monster wasn't really a TV either: it's a short-throw projector, with a ~23kg console sending the image through a dual-colour laser light source to the 100-inch screen.

Big TVs in Australia are on the rise. Every TV manufacturer I've spoken to in the last year has agreed that 75 inches are the most popular model in the country — or at least the model seeing the most growth. Australians might not be buying more TVs than the previous generation, and the rise of mobile phones means houses are less obsessed with having a TV in every room for entertainment. But when we want to buy a big TV, 65-inch isn't the aspiration anymore: it's 85 inches and bigger.

But that's for existing models. Who actually has space for a 100-inch TV — or a projector — and, more curiously, what's it like to game on?

Image: Kotaku

I spent a night in a two-storey house checking out Hisense's laser TV. Because there's not a huge amount of them available in the country, TV manufacturers here generally tend to install the few pre-release units they have in a fixed location rather than shipping them out to people's homes or offices. It also reduces the chance of things getting bumped or broken in transit.

Hisense's TV also comes with a literal white glove service. As part of the $20,000 price tag, Hisense will send the TV with a technician to your house who will unpack, install the wall mount, all the cables, and calibrate the TV to your living room. The packaging also comes with actual white gloves, which is a nice gag.

A key part of the whole unit is the JBL subwoofer and speaker setup, the latter of which is built into the projector unit. The speakers have about 50W of power, with 60W reserved for the subwoofer. It's incredibly bassy and exceedingly good at filling a room, especially if the bass you're pumping out happens to be Streets of Rage 2 or, as I kicked off proceedings, the Wipeout HD remastered collection.

The advantage of the Hisense's laser TV is that it doesn't lose as much brightness compared to a normal projector, thanks to the short throw design. The downside of that is that it isn't really pitched as an alternative to other 4K HDR projectors. It's being pitched as an alternative to other massive TVs that you might buy, but all those other TVs fare much better in the daylight and non-low light situations.

If you're in the perfect environment — lights off, late at night, not a lot of glare or reflections to interfere — then the Hisense laser TV does a bang on job of absolutely filling a room. It took a bit of tweaking on my end with the gamma, colour temperature and disabling a lot of the motion smoothing and noise reduction post-processing that adds extra input delay. Hisense's VIDAA interface doesn't automatically detect the scene or content you're playing, so if you plug in a console for the first time, you have to manually set the TV into game mode — and then it'll remember that input and your preferred settings.

Once everything is up and going, however, it's pretty painless for the majority of casual gaming. I wouldn't be using the laser TV as an alternative to a high refresh rate monitor, but the response time was just as good as any mainstream TV today. Those looking to play hardcore sessions of Mortal Kombat or Smash Ultimate will notice a difference, because you're still dealing with around 20ms of input lag, but it's more than acceptable for the kinds of games that you'd throw up on a TV of this size. The viewing angles are exceptionally good, too.

Mario Kart 8 had no troubles at all, playthroughs of Sonic and Sonic 2 on the SEGA Mega Drive Mini ran without a hitch, Untitled Goose Game held its own (although if you're out of Game Mode, you might notice some strange banding on the wings of The Goose whenever it flaps), and sessions of Uncharted 2 and the remastered Wipeout collection were perfectly enjoyable.

The only real kicker is the loss of brightness you get from Game Mode, something the latest models of OLED, QLED and LED TVs have largely eradicated. On the Hisense TV, however, it's a real problem especially if there's any hint of light.

To illustrate how dire the glare is, here's a shot I took at 9.30am from the first episode of Russian Doll, where the red-haired main character Natasha is looking at herself in a bathroom mirror:

Image: Kotaku

There's no combination of picture settings that can rescue a picture that washed out.

So Hisense is left in a weird situation. On the one hand, if you've got a massive space to fill, one that can't be adequately serviced by a 75-inch or 85-inch, there's an opening for a 100-inch laser TV. Samsung will sell you a 98-inch 8K TV, if you'll fork out $100,000. LG's latest OLED TVs don't go beyond 88 inches, and it'll cost you $60,000 for one of those — unless you want the 77-inch 4K OLED, which also costs $20,000.

But what places are going to want to prioritise size over a screen that struggles so much with the slimmest of light?

The only answer I could think of, funnily enough, was a small bar. They're the venues that wouldn't be open during the day that often, so light is less of an issue. Many small bars have walls or are built on lower floors too, and a large screen acts as a great centrepiece for keeping patrons interested and engaged. Bars like Spawn Point in Sydney use a projector for exactly this; the recently closed Beta Bar in Melbourne had a few spaces where a screen of this size would have fit nicely.

But is that a justifiable enough reason for dropping $20,000 when other QLED or LED TVs don't suffer the same drawbacks? And how many small bars — especially in Sydney's post-lockout law environment — want to be dropping that much on a TV to begin with? Probably few, and the same calculus applies for those in the market for a large screen TV.

It'd still be magical to get four friends around for a super long, lights off 3AM session of Smash Ultimate on a screen massive enough that you might actually be able to keep track of everything on the screen. And getting my arse handed to me in Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and returning the favour in Mario Kart 8 was pretty great.


Comments

    Not as good as a normal TV and assumedly not as good as a projector.

    Hisense are really chasing a niche market here.

      Thats how it starts though. The initial releases really arent as good as the manufacturer tries to make them out to be, but gradually they get better.

      Give this 5 years, and its the norm. Or something similar is, anyway. 5 years ago it was 75" screens falling into this category, and now thats apparently the highest growing size on the market. 10 years ago, LED and OLED werent the norm, but the gimmick. 65" was niche.

      Along with variations that never took off (I hoped SOLED would work; it didnt. Pixel density would have been insane), they were the Best Of The Best product according to the makers, when really they werent there yet.

      But we need these gimmick/niche products so they can evolve into what we really end up using. This aint that product, but its grand-children probably will be. It wont be niche then.

        Black ops 2 had an option for dual display split screen that i hadnt seen anywhere else outside of the game, where it would have both images overlapped and you had to where glasses to see your version of the screen. Niche and included in a game, also anaglyph 3D which i thought was pretty cool, picked me up some old school 3d glasses just to try that

          Never tried it, but I think GT5 had something similar. Or at least announced it at some point. Should go back and see if its there, I have a 3D tele I could check on. Was something that a few games could have tried, particularly games with co-op potential.

          Those sort of ideas though are where you see tech grow. It didnt pan out with 3D, but those few efforts like Black Ops 2 and (maybe) GT5 wont have been in vain. They will have learned a fair bit they could use in other areas, and even if we dont realise it, the ideas will be around somewhere.

          But yeah, it was a novel idea that had some uses. Cool that BO2 had it.

        For a lot of people, going above 75" at 4K resolution is going to be a visual quality decrease.

        There are optimum blends of resolution and screen size vs viewing distance. I magine for a lot of people, they would not have a viewing distance that a 100" screen to be warranted. Then again if the price doesn't decline (to something more competitive with projectors) this would be for a wealthier market who may be able to afford such living spaces

          Fully agree. Have said the same thing plenty of times over the years. We're pretty much hitting that point where there are diminishing returns on what you get out of it. 4K loosely works up to about that 75" mark, maybe 85", but 8K wont really get the chance to be fully exploited simply because once you get up to the 100" mark you're pretty much out of real estate.

          Thats a LOT of screen, and when you figure in the essentially unusable space underneath, is going to take up a wall. Which, as you say, then creates issues with viewing distance. So in the end you just wont see that optimum blend of resolution and screen size for anything over 4K. Doesnt mean there arent other benefits, but picture quality may not be one of em. Its a pixel density beyond what the human eye can perceive.

          It doesnt mean they shouldnt try though. The ideas can come through in other ways. Using the 3D split idea for example, the developers would have learned other lessons with networking and dual player data, and things like that, and other efficiencies with manipulating separate sets of data, so even though we may not see 3D used for essentially split screen gaming, the idea may have led to other benefits. For 8K, etc, benefits can be had with smaller displays for close up work, scientific work, etc.

    That is not really the games I'd have been thinking to test a screen this large on. I mean, any FPS would have been at least nice.

    Xiaomi do the exact same thing, short throw 4k laser projector for $2000. it has built in speakers as well but don't think they'll be anything special but after spending a good $1000-1500 for a good laser projector screen you have $16,500 left to buy a sound system haha. $20k is a joke Hisense!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now