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Usually when a gaming console comes out it goes through several revisions in its life. Sometimes these revisions are all internal but many times they are also external. Sometimes the early version of a console is most desirable because of extra features or abilities that were later cut to save costs and sometimes later revisions with more refined internals and bug corrections are the models to get. In this series I’m going to pick a console and examine the different versions released and try to decide on the best one overall. For the first console I’m going to look at in this series I’ve picked one of my all-time favorites, the Super Nintendo.


I’ll be covering the North American systems here since there’s really no significant difference except for form factor and the NA SNES seems to be the best “universal” system. So first we should go over the SNES consoles available before we compare. The most common is the model pictured above. This was the model sold in NA from 1991-1997 and the one most retro gamers are familiar with. It’s fairly easy to find and can be had for about $50 or under depending. Many of us may even still have one laying around from the ’90s. This model is pretty capable, it supports a wide variety of A/V outputs via the rear multi A/V  and RF port from RF to RGB. It has a nice little red LED power light and is pretty durable. The original model SNES is also fairly easy to modify. The inner tabs can easily be removed to allow the use of JP game carts as demonstrated here. Its also fairly easy to find someone online to perform a lockout switch disabling mod and a 50/60mhz switch mod to allow one to play European PAL games on a North American SNES. The one negative thing I can think of off the bat is its kind of ugly. I’m full of nostalgia for the thing so to me the site fills me with fond memories but to be realistic it’s not the sleekest looking machine especially when you compare it with the look of its Japanese and European counterpart.


Japanese Super Famicom taken from Wikipedia Commons under fair use

Another not very well documented issue with the SNES is the “middle light bar” or “vertical line issue”. Its a little hard to capture and explain but basically its a sort of distortion that sometimes can be seen running down the center of the screen. This is especially prevalent in dark scenes. I first noticed it when playing the game Robotrek. In the workshop sections of that game a large portion of the screen is black and you can notice a sort of “band” running down the center of the screen that I found a little distracting. I’ve read that early Japanese models do not have this issue and later production NA models have it to a lesser degree. If you want to see an example of this there’s an image at RetroRGB here.

The original model did go through several small internal changes through its life cycle and these changes did have a small effect on the machine. These changes were mostly just small refinements of the internal motherboard design. As these changes happened A/V quality, especially if your using RGB improved. The last version of the original SNES’s are known as 1chip motherboard SNES’s. The 1chip design consolidated several of the chips and is the same layout used in the SNES Mini. This redesign improved picture sharpness but introduced some other issues such as minor graphical glitches to some games. There’s no sure way to tell what motherboard revision your SNES has unless you open it up and look inside. 1chip SNES’s tend to have serial numbers starting with UN3. The serial number can be found on the underside of the unit.


Here is my machine opened up. As you can see my serial number starts with UN1 and inside my motherboard is labeled SHVC-CPU-1. this is NOT a 1chip motherboard. 1chip boards should actually have “1chip” printed on the board.

and here is another non 1-chip board from my other version 1 SNES


A second cost reduced version of the SNES came out in 1997 and was known as the SNES Mini, SNES Jr. or SNES 2.


Unfortunately the yellowing of the plastic shell is a problem all SNES consoles suffer from due to the nature of the plastic used. The SNES mini is not quite as well known and I still encounter many casual gamers around my age that have never heard of it. As far as I know works with most add-ons for the original model. This model may also  be harder to mod with a lockout disable switch and a 50/60htz switch for PAL games due to smaller chips but I have not confirmed this yet. It’s a much smaller and sleeker machine much more in the style of the Japanese and PAL models then the NA version. Removing the tabs as in the original model to allow JP games to be played is achieved largely the same way. Unfortunately despite its new look and less shelf space needed this is a cost reduced machine and many capabilities were omitted. First it lacks an eject button of the original model requiring slightly more force to remove games. The SNES mini has the best A/V quality output of any former SNES, even the 1chip motherboard models *unconfirmed*. Unfortunately this is almost completely negated by the fact this model has had support for S-video and RGB disabled. This model also lacks a power LED light when the machine is on. A minor thing next to the reduced A/V options but still a minus. The mini is also slightly more expensive due to its relative scarcity and usually goes for $60+. On the positive side S-video and RGB output can be restored via an internal modification and a power LED can be easily added. there are notches next to the power switch to indicate on/off position which makes excellent drill holes for a small discreet power LED.

compared to the model 1 SNES the SNES mini AKA Jr. has a sharper image, especially after an RGB mod. Also the RGB mod tends to reduce the vertical line issue present with the SNES. Unfortunately recent information indicates that this model has several incompatibilities and graphical issues.

1) the white levels are overly bright compared to the original

2) “ghosting” of images may occur with certain backgrounds on certain monitors that have poor filtering

3) a number of games appear to have minor graphical glitches on the SNES mini though none of these seem to make any game unplayable but usually consist of random white dots appearing, upper screen visual glitches, missing shadows or warped text boxes. These games include but are not limited to

  •  Air Strike Patrol
  • Treasure of the Rudras
  • Aladdin
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
  • Demon’s Crest
  • Soul Blazer
  • Magical Pop’N
  • Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts


Here’s an example I captured from Air Strike Patrol of the shadowing issue. Both SNES’s had the images captured via S-video.




SNES “standard”

Notice you can barely make out the shadow of the fighter on the SNES Mini but it is very noticeable when played on a standard SNES





SNES “standard”

Or if you would like to view the two versions in motion I captured some video.

4) games that use add-on chips like the Super FX chip (Star Fox) seem to run slightly slower (unconfirmed ATM). I’ve captured the intro and some game play from both Starfox and Stunt Racer FX and played them side by side.

The SNES mini has been S-video/RGB modded but has a diagonal line issue in S-video not present in RGB. I tried to sync the games best I could in the video but its still a little inconclusive. Star fox does appear to run slightly slower, Stunt Racer FX is inconclusive.

5) the first version of Game Genie will not run on SNES mini

more information on these issues can be found here

to compare models.



In the picture below you can see the SNES mini (on left) has had the RF port and channel select removed requiring an external RF selector if using RF.


so which is the better model, well that depends.

BEST MODEL STOCK (out of the box, no modifications)

original SNES with non-1chip motherboard


  • Eject button
  • Power LED
  • ability to output RF, composite, s-video and RGB easily
  • cheaper
  • full game catalog compatibility and compatibility with all peripherals
  • correct white levels


SNES mini (with A/V and LED modifications) I’ve changed my mind after learning about the issues with the mini and 1chip units.


  • small sleek look
  • LED easily installed
  • with s-video/RGB restoring mod has the absolute best A/V output quality of any SNES model

Almost all the major shortcomings of the mini can be overcome with modifications. Full A/V can be restored and an LED added. I think I paid under $50 to have someone perform the needed mods for me. Yes the mini lacks an eject button but is that really such a loss for getting the best awesome A/V output in return. The price is also a little higher but its sometimes only a matter of $10-$20 dollars. If you want the best SNES I defiantly advise tracking down a mini and at least getting the A/V restore mod done. Its worth it for the S-video alone and if you have an RGB monitor the difference in quality is very noticeable.

after the new information I think overall even compared to a modded SNES mini that the original non-1chip SNES is the overall best version. With the right monitor or TV the “ghosting” isn’t much of an issue with the mini and even though a lot of people seem to find the overly bright whites to be a major negative it never bothered me too much but the graphical glitches and possible speed issues with games that use add-on chips is just a deal breaker for me. Even with the sharper image and lessened vertical lines if it can’t play the games correctly that’s a huge downside. The best possible solution would be to have an original as well as a modded mini for games that have no graphical issues but if you could have only one go with the compatibility of the original and besides RGB on a non 1chip is still pretty good, especially on a quality TV or monitor.

I got a lot of information from this very awesome site. I recommend you check it out as he has quite a few comparison images of the RGB quality of the various models.

Choosing the right display for playing our classic games isn’t as straight forward as it may seem at first. If you want to get the best quality picture there are a variety of things to take into account. This fact is compounded in the USA by the myriad of different video transmission methods we have gone through each of ascending video quality. This is a guide designed to help those that want the best video quality out of there “classic” systems (pre PS3 for the sake of this article).

Before we can talk about the correct displays to use we need to have a basic understanding of how the video signal is sent and the various connection methods used to deliver the video signal to the TV. Since we are talking about classic systems here were going to focus on analog video and not digital methods like DVI or HDMI. The difference between Analog and Digital is beyond the scope of this article so its enough to understand that classic systems output their video signals via analog. The first thing to understand is that the color video signal is split into two basic parts, Luma, or the brightness and Chroma or the color. the chroma is separated into red, green and blue which together blend to create the other colors.


Here’s the back plate of a typical modern TV (a CRT HDTV in this case). In this picture we can see virtually the entire progression of video standards America has gone through up to the digital high definition era with the HDMI port on the far right. So now will go through all the standards one by one from the connection that provides the worst picture when hooked up with a game console or movie player to the one that gives the best quality image.


First we have RF and this is the type of connection most of us grew up with using early on, its also undoubtedly the worst quality connection. Without modification this is the only way most early consoles like the Atari 2600 can be hooked up. Many of us used to daisy chain systems with RF switch boxes, set the TV to channel 3 and didn’t know the difference. Basically what RF does is trick your TV into thinking your game console output is a television show. RF mixes both the Luma and the Chroma together along with the sound as well. All these signals being sent together with no separation makes for a terrible fuzzy image. This input despite its terrible quality is widely available and is present on almost all televisions. This is also due to the fact this would be where your cable line would input to the TV.


Composite is a slight step up from RF. What composite did was separate the sound from the image signal helping improve image quality a small amount. This connection was found on higher end TV’s in the late 80’s and on almost all TV’s from the 90’s up. Image quality when using a console hooked up is also dependent on the TV. TV’s have filters which separate the Luma and Chroma when the signal comes in on the composite line and the better the filter the better the image quality. Most TV’s from the early 2000’s have very good filters in my opinion for composite video.

If you find the specifications of your TV or the TV your thinking about buying for classic gaming and want to know the quality of the comb filter used to separate the signals in a composite line in the three types of common comb filters are 2 line comb filter < 3 line comb filter < 3d comb filter. try to find a TV with the 3D filter or at least a 3 line filter.


S-video takes the next logical step and separates the Luma and the Chroma. This separation creates a noticeable improvement in quality of image. S-video became fairly standard in the mid 90’s and was widely available on most TV’s from 2000 up. some older Commodore monitors are S-video capable but the jack is different and is composed of two RCA jacks as opposed to a specialized S-video jack.


Component again goes one step further then S-video. what component does is have three separate jacks. one transmitting the Luma as well as the vertical and horizontal synchronization (the green jack) and the other two transmitting the blue and the red color signal. Since the display knows the correct Luma levels as well as where the red and blue goes it can fill in the other areas with green. Component creates a image of excellent quality and in the USA is generally thought of as the best connection as far as analog video goes. It really became common around the early 2000’s first on high end TV’s and later became a common standard. One great advantage of component is it can support a progressive scan signal so It can transmit ED and HD images from 480p up to 1080i making it the connection of choice for systems that support those modes such as the Playstation 2 and up. Component CAN also transmit a 1080p signal as well but this is very uncommon. most TV displays only support up to 1080i over component and most devices will not transmit a 1080p signal over them as well. The Xbox 360 is one example of a device that will transmit 1080p over component but again your display must also support this.

*Toshiba marketed component as “color stream” on some Toshiba TV sets and used different jack colors. This is the exact same connection and quality as component and was just a marketing move by Toshiba so don’t be confused.


I’ll just be blunt, America got screwed. Component delivers an excellent picture but there is a method that delivers a slightly better one. this is commonly known as RGB or red,blue,green. Its the full separation of the Luma and all three sub signals of the Chroma. unfortunately the RGB standard was never really adopted in the US and in the states we have very limited options if you want to obtain an RGB capable monitor.


that is a euro SCART connector. its the standard connector found on many European TV’s and it is capable of transmitting pure RGB (most of the time, some cables lack it but its the individual cables not the standard). Japan also had a version usually known as Japanese RGB or 21 pin RGB. It wasn’t as standard as SCART RGB but at least they had some kind of RGB standard over their. (keep in mind Japanese and euro RGB cables are NOT compatible).

so in short the quality chart for the connections goes like this


Technically Component IS a form of RGB of which there is several. keep in mind component also supports enhanced definition and high definition signals so it is generally the connection of choice for post Playstation systems where RGB is best used for pre Playstation 2 systems. A very common form is RGBS or composite sync where four wires are used. Its very much like component except the forth wire carried the vertical and horizontal synchronization data, In component this information is transmitted on the same cable as the Luma (green cable). RGBHV goes even further and used five wires separating the sync into its own separate horizontal and vertical cables.

Euro SCART cables use the RGBS method.

One option to at least get component video out of your older consoles that do not output component but do output RGB is an external converter. I’ve heard and read a lot of good things about the csy-2100 RGB to component converter. what this does is take the RGB signal outputted by your console via a Euro SCART cable and translates it into component. there’s a converter and extra connections involved so some negligible signal loss is expected but from what Ive seen at least the csy-2100 is of good quality and will allow you to get a good component image on your TV without having to do an internal component modification to your systems. The downside (besides the very small signal loss) is having to buy separate RGB SCART cables for the systems you wish to use as well as the converter itself usually retailing for over $100.

yhea, its a little confusing. heres a video that touches the subject by “My Life in Gaming” here.


I’ve put together a few examples to give a loose idea about the different qualities of video connections. I do need to point out I didn’t exactly use the scientific method here. The image you get from pointing a camera at a screen and taking a picture is different from what your going to see with the naked eye but since I lack a screen capture device that’s the best were going to get right now.

First example I’m going to use is a close up of Quick Man from Mega Man II on the NES but the only system I have on hand that will run the entire gambit of video standards is my PlayStation 2 so these images are coming from the Mega Man II PS2 port.


As you can see the image in RF is very blurry, especially notice the V on Quick mans head and how very undefined it is, especially at the point. Also notice all the color bleed as red bleeds into everything around it. Keep in mind this is even using a high quality official Sony RF box. I originally used a third party RF switch and the image rolled on the TV. Composite helped a good deal with the color bleeding. S-video you can start to see a little bit more detail such as the Quick mans mouth is a little more defined as well as the faint yellow line in the middle of Quick mans ear piece. Finally the component image looks really good and sharp. You can make out all the details and the shading around Quick mans mouth is more defined.

Next is an example from the PS2 game Mega Man X8.

mmex(click to enlarge)


Wrong, with the exception of very few game consoles (the NES and 3DO come to mind) all consoles such as the PlayStation, Genesis, Sega Master System, SNES, Ect… output RGB. Most consoles at their core output the images via RGB but depending on the jack connected the signal is downgraded to accommodate the method used to display the video signal. An RGB signal can be turned into any type below it. An example would be the Sega Genesis, it can output RGB. It used a proprietary video jack though so only composite cables were made in the US but in Europe they made RGB cables. An American, if they owned an RGB capable display could simply order an RGB Genesis (or mega drive as its known elsewhere) cable and enjoy their Genny in RGB. Alternatively since the Genesis can natively output RGB modifications can be made to the Genesis to provide output jacks for either S-video or component.


VGA commonly used by IBM PC’s since the late 80’s is indeed a method of analog RGB widely used in the USA and typically uses the RGBHV method to transmit RGB data. unfortunately it sends its signal at a much higher frequency then the frequency outputted by older game consoles. Ive seen 15htz RGB to VGA converters on eBay but I cant attest to their compatibility or quality. I can say I’ve never heard good things about them in my gaming experience.

Most of the Sega Dreamcast games can output via VGA by way of a mod to the system or using a Dreamcast VGA box but other then that only more modern systems like the Xbox360 can output RGB via the VGA standard.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how video is transmitted in classic game consoles we can start looking at what type of displays we want to use that will provide the best image and compatibility for some classic gaming. Before we look at the best options lets first look at the worst.


HD or High Definition displays in general but worst are LCD, LED, Plasma or really any flat displays. Wouldn’t it be great to play NES Punch Out on your new 55 inch HD LED TV? well you can but its going to look like crap. First of all these old consoles were made to work on older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) or “tube televisions” at certain native resolutions. When displayed on widescreen HDTV’s (even when using black bars to the right and left) the image can be stretched and distorted. The quality can differ depending on the TV but usually it looks pretty bad.

Also old standard definition televisions had something called scan lines. if you look very closely at an image displayed on an older SDTV you will notice a thin black line every other line. Here is an example from a Super Nintendo connected to an older CRT SDTV. Keep in mind this image looks much sharper in person, the act of simply taking a picture by pointing it a screen creates many distortions.


notice the thin black lines every other line? Those lines are not present on HDTV’s so the TV stretches the lines to fill those gaps, the pixels end up looking blocky and smeared.

Lastly we have the problem of “ghosting” on an LCD, Plasma or LED HDTV. this happens because the TV cant upscale the video being outputted from the game console fast enough and a delay is created. this is not a problem on older CRT TV’s. This may throw timing of jumps off in certain games or create a ghost image behind objects in a game moving quickly. some TV’s have “game modes” that help alleviate this issue.  many flat screen HDTV’s have a rendering speed specification displayed when you purchase them. the lower the better. 5ms or less is desirable.

It should also be noted that most LCD, Plasma and LED TV’s still do not give deep black levels or dark colors as well as older CRT’s.


Yes, but neither of them are as good as getting a dedicated standard definition CRT in my opinion. The first option is to get a device called an upscan converter. What an upscan converter does is upscale the image to the native resolution of the HDTV far faster then the scaler in the TV can. This helps with the blocky pixels as well as the ghosting/timing issue. There is also usually an option for the upscaler to create artificial scan lines simulating an older CRT TV. There are issues inherent to the upscaler option though. One is the language barrier. Most of these units like the XRGB which is very popular among gamers is Japan only and requires importing as well as finding the sometimes hard to locate 21 pin JP RGB cables. They can also be rather expensive, usually around the $300 mark making it far more economical to simply find an SDTV at goodwill for $1. I owned a XRGB2 plus in the past and I wasn’t to impressed. I much preferred using a true RGB non HD monitor. I ended up selling the unit off after a year of use. There are some rather expensive upscale converters such as one released by Ancher Bay that retailed for near $1000. I assume these would give much better upscaleing abilities.

Luckily there is a sort of middle ground. Before the widespread adaptation of flat LED, Plasma and LED type HDTV’s a number of manufacturers produced CRT HDTV’s. these TV’s used the tried and true CRT technology to display HD images and the best part is currently they can be obtained for free in some cases. mine was $14 at a thrift store.


The current TV I’m using is an off brand Sanyo but CRT HDTV’s were produced by many diffrent companies. Many CRT enthusiasts do not recommend the Samsung “Slimfit” line of CRT HD sets due to poor components and bad geometry issues but from personnel experience I feel this may be overblown plus you get the benefits of a lighter set. Sony CRT HD sets are generally recommended as they tend to produce the best image quality but I personally have experienced high failure rates with Sony HD CRT sets. Toshiba sets also regularly come up as being worth checking out. Many of the problems found in the flat screen HDTV’s are far less troubling here and some games look absolutely brilliant. There are still issues though. These TV’s still lack scanlines and the images produced still look chunky or off at times. This is especially noticeable when you scroll the screen. Many times the image looked great but upon scrolling the screen things looked noticeably not right. It by no means makes the game unplayable but it can be distracting if your a video perfectionist. Also some games were made using scanlines to create certain effects.

here is an example of “ghosting” which occurs even on the CRT variety of HDTV. watch the area behind Mario as he runs to see it. Its more noticeable to the naked eye when playing.

here is an example from the SNES game UN Squadron. the connection on both TV’s is via S-Video. The first TV is a modern CRT SDTV and the second is a CRT HDTV.


unshdHD CRT

The picture isn’t bad on either but you can notice the blockyness in the HD TV with the lack of scan lines. this is especially noticeable in the large A in U.N. SQUADRON. Also the pixels seem to blend better in the Unicorns hair on the SD TV.

many times on HD displays when any sort of “checkered” effect is used it looks very disorienting on an HD set. This setup will allow the use of HD gaming from newer consoles and HD movies/TV but be aware that even though many of these TV’s have HDMI ports for video no CRT HDTV was ever produced that was capable of 1080P resolution but many do go up to 1080i.


Now that all of that is out of the way lets discuss the best option available for classic gaming.

1) Import a RGB capable SDTV from Europe or Japan. This is actually the most impractical method for those of us living in the US. Japan used the same video standard and voltage (well 10v difference but its still compatible) but there RGB capable TV’s are a little rarer. RGB SCART on the other hand is fairly common on European TV’s and most EU TV’s can do our video standard (NTSC) as well as there’s (PAL). You would need a power converter though. Either of these TV’s would give you an SDTV CRT display for old games plus an RGB input for the best possible image. As a plus the EU TV would allow you to display PAL images if you ever imported any EU game consoles. Unfortunately this would cost a fortune. Consider that shipping even a smaller heavy CRT TV across the US can easily cost $100 or more. A heavy TV, even a small one from Europe or Japan would run several hundred dollars let alone the time involved and the effort in finding one and purchasing it. Although this is an option its not really a reasonable option.

2) Buy a later model SDTV. This would be the path most people take. SD or standard definition TV’s of various sizes are widely available for cheap or free. Goodwill routinely runs $1 TV sales (as of now Goodwill has stopped accepting CRT sets but various thrift shops still carry them). A lot of people favor older TV’s such as large console sets but many times the picture can look washed out on these sets from years and years of use. Some may even have images such as TV station logos burned into the screen so look out for this. Many of the earlier TV’s also lack a variety of higher quality video inputs and only offer RF and composite. My suggestion would be to look for something from around 2000 or later preferably Samsung or a Sony Trinitron. Later Sony CRT HDTV’s had reliability issues but the quality of their SD sets is very good and has high reliability.

Older sets with curved screens are also a fine option and many prefer them for a more nostalgic look. Many of the same people will claim that newer SD CRTs with flat screens will have geometry issues. This may also be severely overblown as I have not encountered any geometry issues that could not be easily fixed via a service menu nor have I noticed it being any more of an issue then with older sets with curved screens. I also asked a friend I know that routinely works on CRT sets and he felt the same way. This common conception may be attributed to the people buying very cheap flat screen CRT sets from off brands near the end of the SD CRT era. These cheap sets likely had more geometry issues due to poor construction thus leading to a larger amount of people claiming all flat screen sets suffer from poor geometry. The second claim people make with later flat screen SD sets is that light guns will not work. This is largely a myth. Light guns will not work on HD CRT sets but WILL WORK on SD CRT sets regardless on if they have a flat or curved screen. There may be some rarer SD sets that attempted to use different refresh rates later on which created incompatibilities with light guns but I have never encountered any of these sets and the vast majority of TV’s with flat screens should work without issue.

These TV’s will of course have RF, usually two or more composite inputs and at least one S-video and one component input. make sure you have an s-video and component though if you want to get the best out of SD systems like the PS2 and Wii. Classic systems should look great on these TV’s with no issues, especially the higher end Samsung or Sony displays. One thing you will be missing though is RGB  input for the very highest quality image as well as Progressive scan or 480P resolution (a method that gives a sharper image and is referenced as the “P” in resolutions, ex, 480p, 720p, 1080p) which isn’t a big loss but SD systems like the Wii support it as well as some games on the Xbox and PS2. here is the current TV I use. Its an off brand but offers the entire range (minus RGB) of inputs. I am currently looking for a higher quality set though.


Here’s another TV that I actually recently acquired to replace the Ilo TV. Its a Samsung SD CRT and although the screen is slightly smaller the picture quality is better.


If your looking for the very best SD sets though Toshiba and JVC (especially the D-series) commonly come up but the most suggested is the Sony line of SD sets namely the Trinitron brand and XRB brands

Perhaps the finest line ever produced is the the Sony KV-xxFV310 line with the xx being substituted for either 27, 32 or 36 to designate screen size. These sets are one of the last SD sets and feature everything from RF up to two component inputs as well as features such as a 3D comb filter (the best available), Dynablack technology, a built in subwoofer and a high voltage regulator to prevent color blooming. The voltage regulator is a feature not found on any other consumer SDTV.

I recently acquired the 32 inch version of this TV. despite the hype of it being so good it was almost “PVM like” I would have to disagree. The picture is very nice and it handles 480i and 240p wonderfully it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. I calibrated my set as well as I could but it could probably use a good professional color and geometry calibration (something no TV repair service offers anymore for CRT’s). Although I don’t think this set comes close to touching an image on a quality PVM via RGB it still is about as good as its going to get for a consumer SD set and and offers some advantages over a PVM such as greater screen size, availability and price. Mine was found for free locally.

3) The 3rd option would be to find the elusive CRT EDTV or Enhanced Definition TV. these sets ARE NOT HD but are capable of progressive scan at 480p. this means it gives all the benefits of a SDTV but with the added ability to display progressive scan for those older systems that support it such as Xbox, PS2 and Wii. The biggest issues with EDTV’s is finding them. Some of them are labeled EDTV in the corner but a number do not so without researching the model numbers its hard to tell. Also production of these TV’s was brief and they are hard to come across. In my time looking at different TV’s and all my thrifting trips I have come across exactly one EDTV in all my life. It was my friends who bought it around 2006 at a Kmart. I have never encountered one since but in my opinion this would be an excellent option for classic gaming since you get a newer vibrant SD set with the bonus of 480p capability. Again though these TV’s lack any RGB input ability.

Well after years of checking out every TV I come across at Goodwills, thrifts and flea markets I finally found one. Yes, they really do exist


Took this image with my phone. Ironically I didn’t buy it since it was a really small screen and way overpriced but my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. This particular TV was one of those not quite flat screen TV’s. It was way to thin to be a CRT TV but still pretty thick so maybe an early LCD TV.


If you really want to experience RGB video your options are limited in the US. As I stated before the method was never standardized in the US and connections among the specialized monitors vary. The first option would be an older computer monitor that supports 15khz RGB. The most common is the old Amiga 1084 monitors. Before VGA caught on many older computers in the 80’s used RGB. Many times these monitors can be had for relatively cheap if you can find one. Your going to need to make or have someone make for you special RGB commodore cables though, or as a better route a commodore RGB to SCART adapter cable. That way you can plug in the cable and then just buy the cheap RGB SCART cables for various systems and interface that way.


One other downside to this monitor is the size. At only 12 inches its a rather small monitor but if you find one in working order they can give a very good image.

Finally the best option for a RGB monitor in the US would be the PVM or professional video monitor. The most well known are the Sony PVM’s but NEC and Mitsubishi also produced RGB monitors. These monitors were designed for use in professional settings such as broadcast studios and hospitals. they offer very good image quality, a variety of input options and also come in larger sizes then the commodore monitor. Mine is a larger 20 inch screen Sony PVM that offers composite, S-video and RGB. but other models offer more inputs such as component and even VGA.


Keep in mind these were not built with TV tuners installed so if you want to watch TV on them you need a separate TV tuner. They can be a little hard to come by and generally sale on EBay or Craigslist for between $75 and $150 depending on model. They also do not have speakers on many models so you’ll need to find some external speakers and speaker wires like I have setup in the above picture. This can actually be a positive though since your free to find some really nice quality speakers if you wish. One thing to look out for though is screen burns or images burned into the screen or washed out screens. some of these monitors were subject to endless hours of continuous use so degradation of the unit may of resulted. If you do find a lesser used one though the image can be fantastic. Many of the PVM units also use BIN connectors on the back. They look kind of like RF connectors and are used primarily by professionals. No worries though as they all should be labeled and you can easily and cheaply find BIN to RCA style adapters that just screw into the BIN ports. The style of RGB ports on these monitors can also vary from model to model.


Mine uses this parallel port looking RGB connector and the “sync on green” method of producing RGB, there are various methods its just Sony was partial to SOG, This method transmits the vertical and horizontal sync data on the same wire that transmits the green color data.  Also notice the BIN connectors to the right. these would be where you would screw in your yellow adapters for composite video. What I had done with my PVM is have someone make me a PVM to SCART cable. the standards of RGB are completely compatible but the physical connectors are different. using a female DB-25 connector for the PVM some wiring skill and a male SCART head I had an adapter made. this adapter allowed me to use easily attainable SCART RGB cables for my systems and then play them in full RGB on the PVM.

Since the PVM above was left in my storage unit I recently acquired an even newer Sony PVM made in 2005. The PVM-14L5


This monitor is capable of doing composite, S-video and even component via the Y Pb Pr bin connectors at the rear but can also do 15khz RGBS via the same bin connectors for component (which double as RGB) plus the added forth connector to the right labeled  EXT SYNC. The monitor is capable of running both NTSC and PAL formats as well as progressive scan at 480P. It would probibly be just about perfect if only the screen was a little bigger. Mine here is 14 inches which is barely OK but a 20 inch model is out there.

here are some images I took, keep in mind this is via a digital camera just pointed at the screen so they really don’t do it justice but I feel they convey the message.

Ecco the Dolphin via S-video on a late model Samsung SD CRT TV


Ecco the Dolphin via RGB on a Sony BVM



bvmcomsggHere is a short guide I put together on setting up and using the Sony PVM-14L5

If you can only have one display for classic gaming I would probably pick a large PVM. If you find one that hasn’t seen a lot of use any classic system hooked up via RGB will look astoundingly good. even the other A/V ports tend to give a better quality image then a standard TV set. Many of these monitors are also capable of other region formats such as PAL or SECAM in case you were into importing Euro games and consoles. The only real downside is the lack of 480p on most PVM models. Defiantly worth the effort to track one down.

Here is my latest PVM a PVM-20M2U. This set has a larger screen then the 14 incher and is of similar quality overall but it lacks the ability to display 480p or up which is fine by me since I’m going to use it for pre 480P consoles. I particularly like the easy to reach controls on the front and two RGB/component inputs on the rear

Here are a few more CRT centric videos I have put together.

If your interested in learning more here’s a great article I highly recommend reading


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