Input lag: What is it and how does it impact your TV

Input lag is the time that passes between a picture being generated and the moment it appears on the screen. It is a feature that avid gamers need to keep in mind since input lag can have an impact on the gaming experience, particularly if you are playing a game that requires high speed. At 50ms, input lag starts becoming noticeable, although you can still enjoy a fast game. An input of over 125ms would have a big impact on your gaming experience. It is important to keep in mind that input lag time is not the same as response time. Response time is what takes a pixel to change from one colour to another. We will take a look at input lag to understand how it can affect your gaming experience.

How does input lag occur?

There are three functions involved in the process of displaying an image on the TV screen: getting the source image, processing the image and displaying it.

In order to acquire the image, a digital TV may have to convert the analog RGB component signal to digital. This may take some time, but you can reduce it by choosing a digital signal instead of an analog one. This way the TV will require to complete less tasks in order to convert the image.

After the image has been converted to a format compatible with the TV, it can be processed through different operations. Some of these include colour and brightness adjustments, scalating the image from 720p to 1080p, interposing the picture to match the TV’s refresh rate and adding menus or other additional options. The time required for processing the image depends on the speed of the video processor and the number of tasks that need to be completed. You can reduce the time by adjusting the settings to make sure that the video processor needs to complete less operations. Televisions that have a dual core processor can support a larger number of tasks.

The final stage is displaying the image and each TV has a set time to complete this and it cannot be adjusted. When the image has been processed, the video processor sends the image to the screen. However, it will not appear instantly as its state needs to be changed. Generally, plasma TVs take less time to display the image than LCDs screen.

What you need to consider about input lag

In general, input lag would only be a concern for gamers since it doesn’t affect TV shows or movies so much. If you are watching a movie a slight delay may not make a noticeable difference. However, when you play a game, you interact with the signal, which is why the time required for an image to appear on screen is relevant for your experience. A TV with a high input lag will cause delay in the interactions and movements that appear on the screen. If you are playing a game where timing is crucial (such as Call of Duty and other First Person Shooter games), you will need to make sure that the input lag is minimal.

How to fix input lag issues in your TV

The good news is that in most cases, you can adjust your TV to avoid input lag following a few steps. First, you will need to select Game or PC Mode and then disable all the TV settings. Depending on the TV, you can try different combinations of settings, modes and inputs. For instance, for Samsung TVs you can go to System, select General and enable Game mode. This would reduce the input lag by 50%.

Gaming Mode

Televisions usually include a gaming mode setting that will turn off some of the video processing tasks that take longer to complete. This doesn’t mean that by choosing the gaming mode setting you can ensure that the input lag is significantly reduced while you play. However, choosing this mode and adjusting other settings in the TV can help you to improve the input lag of the television.

How is input lag measured

Input lag is not listed as a television specification because it is determined by two variables: the type of source of the image and the TV settings. It is not possible to get an exact figure for the input lag of your TV, but you can measure it manually by connecting a computer to the TV and using an online monitor test to check the time. Take a picture of the two screens and the time difference would give you an approximate of the input lag of the TV. Here is a list of some of the TVs that have shown lower input lag during tests. They would be options worth considering if you are looking for a gaming-friendly televisions.

Less than 30ms (50 inches):
Samsung H5203 – From $600
LG LB5900 – It can be yours from $600
Sony W800B – Prices start at $900
Sony W950B – Available for just under $1,200
Vizio P Series – From $1,400

Between 30ms to 50ms (50 inches)
Vizio M Series – Starting at $600
Toshiba L3400U – Available from $650
LG LB6300 – From $700
Samsung H6203 – Available from $750
Samsung H6350 – You can get it from $950

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