The Basics:

In the Spring of 2005, a very generous friend of mine was getting ready to leave the country (Japan) and so he gave me one of his computer monitors for free!

It's a "Sanyo CMT-A14F1 Colour Display Monitor" with TTL and Analogue video inputs on the back. I neither know nor care whether this monitor can accept a VGA input.

Japan is not exactly in the same situation as the USA, folks. The IBM-PC (with its VGA-type-only displays) only came to dominate Japan in the mid-1990s, so older monitors tend to be more compatible with computers like the MSX, PC-98xx, Sharp X68000, etc... And that means a different monitor connector.

Yup, it's the Japanese 21-pin RGB connector! You Europeans have probably seen the same thing at the back of your TVs, although that is a "SCART" "Euro-Connector", which has a different pin configuration from the Japanese RGB connector. Strange, isn't it?
So, at any rate, the 21-pin RGB connector emerged as quite a standard in the 1990s for Japanese systems. That meant that for some video game systems, if you wanted to get a crisp and clear RGB image all you had to do was go down to the shop and buy an RGB cable.

This is precisely what I did. On the same day that my friend's monitor came in the mail (or rather, I had to lug its heavy box to my home from the post office a few blocks away), I took the train to a well-stocked video game shop and bought a really nice 3rd-party RGB cable, as seen to the right.

It has gold-plated connectors, the RGB connector on one end, an A/V output in the middle, and 4 different system connectors on the other end! So from one cable, I could hook up a Super Famicom, Playstation, and even a Gamecube or X-Box if I had those systems.

It's great that I don't have to switch RGB connectors for some of my systems, since (to be honest) the 21-pin connector is really bulky and cumbersome to insert and remove.

So without further ado, let's rate the systems! (Note that I am not comparing composite quality against RGB quality, but rather each quality against the best that Composite or RGB has to offer, respectively.)
Composite Quality
RGB Quality

The SFC already has some of the best composite video quality out there! Nintendo took the technology that they used in their Famicom PPU and applied it here, giving bright colours with no unsightly colour dithering, and a stable image with no visible dot crawl.

The RGB out of the SFC is similarly vibrant for saturated hues, but it is a bit dark for whites or hues with less saturation. I also found the SFC's RGB to be a little bit blurred compared to other systems. So the difference between composite and RGB is not completely amazing.

READ A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION of the SFC's blurry / smearing RGB signal.

The Saturn also has some very good composite video output, with bright and sharp colours. Since games are 3-D and/or in high-colour mode, the graphics are sometimes a bit muddy. But anyway, that's not what I'm comparing here. I do see a little blurring, like in the text in the BIOS menu.

Well, in RGB you can see exactly how horribly blocky some of the Saturn's 3-D objects and textures are, since the display is so clear. That's still beside the point. 2-D pixel graphics are some of the sharpest I've seen, and all the colours are so vibrant. Great for all those 2D Arcade conversions.

The composite quality on the Playstation is really good as well. Some high-resolution/interlaced graphics have visible dot-crawl, but low-resolution graphics are pretty sharp and solid. Colours are really vibrant.

RGB on the Playstation is very sharp as well. It's not totally bright, but graphics are very clear. Unfortunately, we can now see that a lot of Playstation games dither their colours in both 3-D games AND some 2-D games. Look at "Castlevania Chronicles" for an example of dithering in graphics where there never should be dithering. It's all 2-D, low(ish) colours, you see.

Now, you can see what I mean on the SCREENSHOTS PAGE,

or return to the main page.