The HDTV arms race is on. And bigger is better. Since high-definition TVs (HDTVs) started becoming more affordable -- and HD-quality content more common -- larger versions of these devices have exploded in popularity.
But the marked increase in clarity and color makes a lot of TV owners wonder, "Wow, if it looks this great on a 42-inch HDTV, I wonder how it would look on a TV three times as big?" You may think that's an exaggeration, but it's not. What if you really could watch HD-quality movies on a screen as big as your garage door? Or bigger than your entire house?
Manufacturers with cutting-edge HDTV technological prowess, working with PR-savvy companies (and millionaires with cash to blow) are making HDTVs with screens of incredible size. Although public relations types measure their screen sizes differently, for the purposes of this article we're going with square footage. Though most of these TVs are located in sports stadiums, we threw in a home TV and a portable HDTV just for fun. Read on to see how huge HDTVs are taking over the planet, and where you can go to see these high-resolution monsters for yourself.
Let's start with the baby-sized HDTVs. At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., Panasonic unveiled its enormous, 150-inch plasma unit. Also known as the Life Screen, this HDTV is around 11 feet wide. Sound too big for your house? Well, perhaps you can tilt it to get it in the door. After all, it's only one inch (2.5 centimeters) thick [source: Fermoso].
If you can't quite imagine an 11-foot TV screen, consider this -- the Life Screen has the same display real estate as nine 50-inch plasma TVs. It also sports 3,996 by 2,160 pixel resolution for crisp images [source: Mahoney]. That's nearly 9 million pixels of pure HDTV goodness.
But you can't just run out to a local superstore and load one of these giants onto your flatbed truck. Remember, Panasonic's previous monster plasma TV was only 103 inches and it sold for around $70,000. There's no official word from the company on pricing for the Life Screen, but suffice it to say, if you have the kind of money you'd need to buy one, the company may contact you first.
But what if you want a really huge HDTV that you can take to a friend's house, even if that friend lives 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) away? Well in that case you'd want to check out the iCONIC 100 HDTV, a 42 x 24-foot HDTV that's portable -- thanks to the semi trailer it rests on.
The iCONIC 100 has 1,008 square feet (93.7 square meters) of display area. You can also measure the screen's diagonal size as you would for a computer monitor. The specs? About 48 feet, or 14.6 meters. There's so much hardware in this unit that it weighs in at 72,000 pounds (32.7 metric tons) [source: ADI].
As if that's not impressive enough, this HDTV requires a built-in generator so as not to tax its clients' electrical systems. It also rotates 360 degrees so that it's always facing the crowd.
If you opted to rent this portable unit from ADI, you'd find that its crew can set up the TV less than 30 minutes, and that there's a full production room built into the trailer, too.
Turner Field is home to the Atlanta Braves baseball team. It's also home to a really big HDTV screen. In 2005, stadium owners spent $10 million for an HDTV the likes of which the world had never seen before.
With nearly 1,300 inches of diagonal (5,600 square feet, or 520.3 square meters) display area, this Mitsubishi Diamond Vision screen is really, really big. It was recognized at the time of its installation as the largest in the world, as verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
It weighs roughly 50 tons and contains more than 5 million LEDs to create bright, clear pictures encompassing one billion colors. It measures 79 feet (24.1 meters) wide by 71 feet (21.6 meters) tall [source: Bell].
The 400,000-watt screen requires 10 cooling fans that move about 60,000 cubic feet (1,699 cubic meters) of air every minute. And it's so big that the back side of the screen has a nine-tiered catwalk for service access.
In a rare act of frugality, the owners of Yankee Stadium didn't go for the biggest and baddest HDTV screen when they opened their new park in April 2009. Instead, they opted for a screen that at the time was the third-largest screen in the world.
Similar to the Braves, the Yankees also opted for a Mitsubishi Diamond Vision screen. This one, however, measures 101 by 59 feet, or 5,925 square feet (550.5 square meters) of display area. If you were to measure this screen diagonally like your desktop's monitor, you'd be looking at 117 feet (or 1,404 inches) of high-definition action [source: Fermoso]. What's more, it can project up to four simultaneous HD images. Believe it or not, this screen is still just a pint-sized version by contemporary standards. Keep reading to see even more massive HDTVs.
The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team plays at Chase Field, which is home to another giant screen. This 136 by 46-foot screen has 6,256 square viewable feet (581.2 square meters) of HD pleasure [source: Business Wire].
And of course, it didn't come cheap. Between production and installation, the Daktronics screen cost around $1 million [source: KTAR]. The screen's landscape orientation (and the fact that it's eight times bigger than the team's old scoreboard) means it can display two true HD images side by side at a 16:9 aspect ratio. It also produces around 4.4 trillion colors.
The HDTV was just one of the high-tech components added to Chase field. As part of a major renovation project, the stadium also added a brand-new sound system and LED ribbon boards to show scores and information throughout games.
In 2006, Dolphin Stadium (now named Land Shark Stadium) installed a truly colossal HDTV screen overlooking the gridiron. Manufactured by Daktronics, the board measures 137 by 50 feet, for square footage measuring approximately 6,850 (636.4 square meters) [source: Daktronics].
At the time, this screen was the biggest HDTV on the planet. It features more than 4.6 million red, green, and blue LEDs, for a resolution of 2,112 pixels wide by 736 pixels high.
The display is made of two Daktronics ProStar screens that use an aspect ratio that's wider than the16:9 wide-screen ratio of HD television broadcasts. That means fans are treated to a super-wide, almost panoramic, view of the action on the field.
Everyone's heard the cliché about things being bigger in Texas. Well, sometimes that's true, several times over. The University of Texas went for worldwide recognition when it installed an HDTV at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Nicknamed "Godzillatron," and created by Daktronics, the screen measures 134 feet wide by 55 high, for a square footage of 7,370 (684.7 square meters) [source: Associated Press]. Diagonally, the screen measures 145 feet (44.7 meters), or roughly 1,740 inches (4,420 centimeters). At a cost of nearly $8 million, it probably goes without saying that this display is the biggest of any in a collegiate arena.
Part of $150 million in stadium renovations, the screen needs so much power that the university had to install new power utilities to run it. And keeping this baby cool in blistering Texas heat is no easy task; the school bought no fewer than 40 5-ton air-conditioning units to make sure their new toy doesn't fry in the sun [source: Associated Press].
The owners went for broke by installing a display measuring 218 feet wide by 37 feet high, or 8,066 square feet (749.4 square meters) [source: Lawler]. If you were to measure this screen diagonally (misleading due to its extreme length), you'd come up with 221.2 feet.
The cost for this Mitsubishi Diamond Vision display? A measly $28 million.
The screen is so big it can show action from three different horse races simultaneously. It's as big as three tennis courts. In fact, the screen is so big that Mitsubishi had to deliver it in 35 separate pieces.
Before opening day in 2008, the Kansas City Royals baseball team bought an HDTV screen that was the largest in the world upon installation. At 85 feet wide by 105 feet tall, the screen is topped with the Royals' signature golden crown [source: Daktronics].
But the Kauffman screen isn't a single screen. It's actually three high-definition screens fitted together as one. And you won't find just one person running the display during a game, either -- it takes a production team of 20 people to input data, update stats and sort endless display options.
Of course, the nine preceding HDTVs were just a warm-up for our final entry. The current biggest HDTV on Earth is in Cowboys Stadium and belongs to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.The television was certified as the largest HDTV in the world on Sept. 25, 2009, by the Guinness Book of World Records [source: Leahy].
There aren't enough adjectives in a thesaurus to describe this collection of Mitsubishi Diamond Vision displays, which can create a single image stretching nearly from one 20-yard line to the other. It took Mitsubishi more than a year to construct the screen; and installation required another four months. This HDTV really is the heavyweight champion of the world -- and even though it's directly over the playing field (about 90 feet or 27.4 meters up) it tips the scales at 600 tons [source: Miles].
The screen uses 30 million LEDs and has more than 11,000 square feet (1,022 square meters) of viewable surface area. It consumes 635 kilowatts of power [source: Mitsubishi Electric Europe]. The entire shebang cost right around $40 million [source: Miles].
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