I alluded to some great news a little while ago, and now that I’ve had my boyfriend talk my ear off about it, I think I finally have enough terminology to muster something comprehensible. We are the proud new owners of a professional video monitor with RGB input! My boyfriend had been searching far and wide to find one, but many people have been purging them from their studios/houses. As a result, they are very hard to come by in Canada. Not only have CRTs become a thing of the past, but RGB inputs are not natively found on consumer grade North American televisions which makes them even more scarce. Copyright lobbyists boycotted the integration of RGB since there was a “risk” of the average human being participating in pirating activities that would produce high quality video reproductions. Because of this unwarranted fear (so it’s okay for Europe to pirate and make high quality reproductions, but not Canada? Really?), the monitors were mostly restricted to professional environments like studio production and medical buildings where they were used for critical image analysis. With all of this in mind and our yearning to continually improve our gaming experience, we were considering driving for an entire day to pick one up elsewhere in the province since there were none at all nearby. This obviously isn’t the most appealing option since people are not likely to discount what they’re selling because you have to drive for many hours to pick it up. And, when you’re buying something like that online, it’s hard to gauge the condition until you’re in the flesh with the machine. The other problem we were running into was that because there are so few units available, there are not a lot of options for size. There were several monitors available under 20″ or over 30″, but we wanted something just under 30″.
Luckily for us, the other day when I picked up those PS1 games from a guy in town, he happened to mention RGB monitors in passing. He was from England from what I could tell, so he knew first hand of the elusive input port and the potential for beautiful retro graphics. I inquired about whether or not he had one to sell or knew anyone selling, and he said that he had gotten a few of them a couple of years ago and had sold them already, but was looking into an upgrade for himself. He said he had a friend that might be able to get him a new one and if so, he would be willing to part with his old one. He promised to email me. True to his word, within a few hours, we had a deal on the table: $300 for a 25″ Sony PVM 2530 and accessories.
After doing some research and compiling a list of questions, my boyfriend and I went and viewed a demonstration of the system’s powerful abilities. The games he demoed were PS1 games from a PS2 console using an RGB input cable (Castlevania, Alundra, etc.) It looked so, so good: the detail of the sprites, the motion of backgrounds, the sharpness of text… Think back to the first time you ever watched HDTV and things looked too good. You could practically see the pores on people’s faces, right? That’s how this was. It was like seeing games I’d stared at for hours in the past with a brand new eye prescription. Things were crisp and clear in a way I never knew was possible. We (obviously) ended up taking the unit, which conveniently comes with bars on the back of it for easy transport despite its crushing weight. The next phase was to start buying up new SCART connectors for our consoles to be able to actually use the TV. The seller threw in a few things including his SCART cable for his Playstation 2 (yay!)
Natively, many types of retro consoles can output RGB, but ones that don’t have to be modified. NES won’t do it without modification, and because we do play a lot of NES, we are currently looking into our options to get that going. Thankfully, most of our other consoles like SNES/N64 can share a SCART cord so we didn’t have to purchase too much online so far. One thing we are also trying to establish is how to capture RGB for streaming purposes, which is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. Splitting RGB signals is complicated since the signal carries with it a voltage, so we are scouring forums and seeing what we can find. Hopefully we can implement a solution that works so that our streams can look as godly as what we are privileged to see when we play.
As hard as it is to take photos of a television and have it look okay, I wanted to include some pictures anyway. We don’t currently have a direct comparison to a normal CRT or to an HDTV, but it’s exciting to show that the display on this television looks like it’s being emulated since it’s so clean and sharp, but you can clearly see pixels! I’ve never seen Mario look like this from a console. These photos are of Super Mario World on an SNES console being displayed on our professional video monitor with an RGB signal.
There are lots of great videos online that do show the differences between various TV types and input signals that also happen to be chock-full of excellent information on this topic. We have been learning a lot from the folks over at My Life in Gaming and their RGB Master Class series that show us deprived North Americans not only what we’ve been missing, but also how to set everything up nicely. If you want to learn more about professional video monitors with RGB inputs, these are definitely the guys to watch.
All in all, we are very excited to have improved our gaming experience so much. We will have to play catch-up and learn a lot of new lingo, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end. For the time being, we will quietly await the mail delivery folks and their never-ending deliveries of foreign cables and adaptors! Hurrah!
Thanks for reading, as usual.