LCD + VGA = WOW

No Fideo Friday this week, after that onslaught of Youtube videos this week I feel we could do with a break! Instead, here's a new article!

VGA is the tecchy name for that big blue cable you plug into your computer monitor, because everything electric needs an annoying three letter
abbreviation
. Remember when I told you guys about the VGA converter box I bought and tried out on my PC monitor, while also trying the Dreamcast out online for the first time in years? Well, now TV's are starting to put VGA ports in the back of them too, which means you can plug your PC up to it, but also...with the help of the converter box, your Dreamcast. Oh, and I've just so happened to blow a lump of money on a new shiny LCD TV to replace my bulky old telly, going from a 21 inch screen to a whopping 32! In case your wondering, I've paid for half of it and will be paying the rest off eventually! It swamps my desk!

Just a word of warning: not all VGA ports in telly's are the same, and I learned this the hard way when I bought one, and the Dreamcast VGA box would not work through it, so I had to take that telly back and get another one, which was a whole lot of hassle and cost me another £50. ADVICE! Don't buy a telly from a electronics specialist like Euronics, because you'll have trouble taking it back, buy it somewhere like Argos instead, because they're easy to exchange with and give you no hassle. Also, if you can, find someone who owns the telly you're considering buying to test your VGA box on before buying! One thing I discovered is Hitachi TV's are good to go, and Samsung ones are not.

The best way I could think of comparing the picture quality would be with photos. Note: colours will look a little off because they're photos, not direct feed shots. First off, here's how it look though the standard aerial port that comes provided with the console:

The quality can all depend on how well your TV receives the aerial, but this is about a good as I can get it.

This is the same shot via an RGB, using the VGA box. This is the same as what you get with a Scart cable, which you can buy separately. It's a lot nicer, with brighter colours and more detail, and looks perfectly fine..

..but this is how it looks with the VGA PC Input. The sharpness ramps up big time and you can see every pixel.
Another advantage of VGA input is that it resizes everything for you, so you don't need to keep switching between 4:3 and 16:9 when a game looks too stretched or squashed. Games feel fresh and new, like you're playing them for the first time again. Even the sound is better! As Racketboy well said on his site many times "once you go VGA, you'll never go back"!

There's only one disadvantage of this device, and that is that not all games will run using it. On the back of most Dreamcast games you'll find a "VGA Compatible" symbol, and if that is not there, than popping in the disc will bring up a message telling you you can't run it through that cable. This isn't always the case, though, sometimes the publishers just forget to place the symbol on the box. Judging from my collection, roughly one in ten games will not use it. The following didn't work for me:

Bangai-O
Bust a Move 4 *
Capcom Vs SNK
DDR 2nd Mix/ Club Edition
Gunbird 2 *
King of Fighters Dream Match 99
Last Blade 2
Pen Pen
Plasma Sword
Psychic Force 2019
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Marvel Vs Capcom *
Spawn in the Demon's Hand *

(EDIT: The games that have * next to them do in fact work, if you use a boot disc! Thanks for the tip
Denymetanol
!)

It seems to depend on th the region of the game as well. According to the folks at DCforums, The American version of Skies of Arcadia works, but the British one doesn't. This is why the VGA box also has a RGB port on the side, and a switch that will let you switch between PC input and second best possible picture quality that will be compatible with any game.


On the plus side, though, you can also use emulators and homebrew games through this thing, so Mega Drive and Playstation games are going to look better than they ever did on the original consoles. For example, here's a shot of the classic Aladdin game in glorious PC quality:
And even closer, so you can see the lovely pixels! The only other way you could get this game to look this good would be through an emulator on your PC. In summary: this is the closest you're gonna get to playing Dreamcast games in HD, and really brings out the best of the system's graphics. It's beautiful, I tells ya.

25 comments:

fatherkrishna said...

Wow! I've only just hooked up my DC to a 60HZ Tv. I've no scart lead either, just the usual TV lead.

There is a lot of info about the benefits of the VGA cable on Racketboy. They are a bit pricey however, so I've not purchased one so far.

This post has tempted me now, however...

Interesting that you showed the Megadrive Aladdin. Such a great game! There was a great article on the making of it with the games creator, in Games TM magazine last month...

Myles said...

I think you can get some of those games to work in VGA if you use the utopia boot disc first but i could be wrong

Pixoshiru said...

Hi there! It's been a while.
I've got a question :
What's the point of using a VGA box to outpu RGB?
I mean, RGB is the signal from the yellow plug from the famous "Yellow, Red and White plug" gang, right? Or am I misunderstanding something?
It's interesting to me 'cause I actually have a VGA box, a big Game Boyish grey box with YellowRedWhite input and VGA out. Used to use it with an old CRT, and never found it so much better.
By the way, Sega seems to ahve thought about this VGA stuff, regarding to the "VGA compatible" icons on the back cover of some games. Isn't there any official cord, or something?
Thanks for anyone with a clue about this! (BTW, Zelda Phantom Hourglass FTW, if I dare say so)

NebachadnezzaR said...

I really need to buy a scart cable, i've always played with a RF cable and now i see the difference between the two is well worth the money the scart cable costs.

Anyway, good post, and congratulations for your new tv, i wish i had one of those to plug in my 360...

gnome said...

Seems the VGa thingy is definitely worth its money. Guess the Wii component cables might come in handy too...

The GagaMan(n) said...

Krishna: I was luck to find my VGA box in a Gamestation for a measly £3. It's only a cheap Electronics Boutique one, but it does the job.

Pixoshiru: maybe I didn't explain it well enough. That RGB port is for the games that do not work with the VGA.

Myles said...

I dont think you can output RGB through standard AV cables. Dont quote me on this but i think you would need a scart cable

Denymetanol said...

You can foce to VGA output more games using the CD-X utility disc.

I´ll tried this CDBOOT and works fine, Code Veronica PAL originally won´t run on native VGA, but using this disc yes. ^ ^

http://www.consoles-otaku.com/dossiers/Piratage/6.jpg

Denymetanol said...

DC-X, excuse me :-P

alan said...

i jus wanted to say... this site is great.

Anonymous said...

VGA isn't an anagram. It's an abbreviation. An anagram is a word made by jumbling up the letters of another word.

I have read this blog for a while, and for an Englishman, you really seem to have a poor grasp of the English language, as least as written.

Tomleecee said...

Meeeow!! Lol! Anyhow, I've always been interested in geting a bit of VGA action, but when boxes pop up on ebay they're usually extortionatley priced. Also, would a VGA box work on a laptop? There's a little I[]I connector on the back of mine - is that where it would go?!

Great to see the 'Yard is still meeting the needs of the planet's Dreamcasters, expect more posts from me in the next week or so...

Tomleecee said...

One other thing...has anyone else noticed Kotaku's blatant ripping off of stuff posted here? Namely the Unseen64 thing from a few weeks back.

The GagaMan(n) said...

Anonymous: I'm Autistic, so I have quite a bit of dyslexia in my writing, so I'm gonna make a few mistakes here and there. I'll fix that. At least I have a name! =P

Tom: If it has one of those connections, then don't see why it wouldn't work. Might depend on the brand though, much like with these LCD TVs.

Caleb said...

Puts my computer setup to shame...

Awesome post man.

I was happy to get my third party VGA adaptor.

Just looking at the Dreamcast menu and organizing your saved games is pretty damn sweet.

And playing SMS games on full screen like that? Pretty kick ass. I gots to get out my emulator CD and give that a shot!

The GagaMan(n) said...

Crazy cool thing I just discovered: The LCD TV has a Picture-in-Picture feature, so if I was to plug to Dreamcast's into the TV via different types of connection (Aerial and RGB, or something). could play two games at the same time! Even better, get out two copies of the same game, and compete against each other to see who can beat it first! I had a go at playing Sonic 1 with a Mega Drive and a Saturn at the same time and struggled on my own, but once a mate comes over..

Darcy said...

@Tomleecee, the VGA port on your laptop is an output, NOT an input, so, while you COULD connect it to a DC VGA box, it won't do anything, since you would be connecting an output to an output. But feel free to try.

DEITRIX said...

Excellent comparison! You can really see the difference in those pics you took..

Speaking of the Wii component cables, I think I will get those here soon for my hd and see how much difference there is.

Anonymous said...

I mean, RGB is the signal from the yellow plug from the famous "Yellow, Red and White plug" gang, right? Or am I misunderstanding something?

You're misunderstanding something.

RGB isn't used in the US, if that's where you're from. The best we in the US have got for regular TV sets (not ED or HDTV) is S-Video. Actually, some non-progressive scan (non ED or HD) sets have component in (those are the red, green and blue cables we have here, but they are not RGB cables), but those on non-HD or ED sets aren't that big a step from S-Video. Composite, which is that yellow cable that you're thinking of, is a step below S-Video, and a step above RF.

As for your "grey box" with composite in (yellow cable) and VGA out, that's not a DC VGA box. That's a composite to VGA converter. And those suck, which is why you aren't getting a good result. Get an official or officially licensed VGA cable or box made for Dreamcast (and only Dreamcast). You'll see a huge difference.

That's another thing: the article keeps mentioning the VGA box as a "converter". VGA boxes for DC (officially licensed for Dreamcast) don't "convert" the signal. The DC outputs VGA natively. All the box or cable (there's a VGA cable as well for DC that plugs directly into the console, so no need for a box) is carry that signal. Again, the DC outputs that signal on its own.

Tomleecee said...

ZZZZ. Did someone call 'Dial-A-Bore'?

The GagaMan(n) said...

Technicalities..Technicalities.. we're not all techno whizz kids that know (or care) exactly how these things work you know.

Caleb said...

A few quick points here:

How the hell does he know that the box that you are using doesn't carry the signal directly? It does...

EB-Boxes ARE made just for the Dreamcast. There is nothing else that they work with.

"As for your "grey box" with composite in (yellow cable) and VGA out, that's not a DC VGA box. "

If you take A DAMN SECOND TO LOOK AT THE PICTURE...you will see that the VGA box IS directly hooked up to the Dreamcast. You can switch outputs on the box from VGA and Composite for games that don't work with VGA.

If it was just a composite converter like you say the VGA box wouldn't be hooked up directly to the Dreamcast. The composite would go from the Dreamcast into the VGA box Not Directly out of the VGA bo TO composite and VGA

You seem to know all the damned lingo but take a second to actually look at the damned picture.

Anonymous said...

I bought a VGA Cable for my Dreamcast to hook up to my 19inch LCD. And as i thought the picture looks horrible! LCD's look crap if there not run in there native res. Luckily i have an old CRT so i used that instead and the picture quality is Amazing!

I guess you need an LCD TV for it to upscale from 480p? I've looked at all my Monitors options and there is no 'Game Mode' or anything along those lines to upscale.

Cheers!

Clean6eR said...

Hi,

The screen shots were really useful, but as someone already pointed out the second picture isn't RGB its composite which isn't very good.

RF<composite<s-video<RGB scart<VGA

That’s for a UK Dreamcast that I think they released cables for. (Didn’t include d terminal, HDMI or component)

Would be handy to see pictures of a RGB scart vs. VGA.

I got a VGA box but it doesn’t work with my LCD so I'm looking into a VGA to HDMI scalar. Anyone tried the lkv351? Comparison pictures of these also would be really handy to see how the Dreamcast looks scaled to 720p!

And again thank you for the pictures of the emulator as that’s why I'm after using the VGA out. Rock n roll racing and road rash on my big telly would be cool, oh and mutant league football!

Sorry if I have bored the guys who's already posted, I just thought as I came across this page while using Google for an answer others might too and post back some opinions.

Jon said...

My SCART connection doesn't look nearly that shitty. That looks like the quality of my regular AV cable.

I don't have a VGA from-PC signal to play with right now, but I do have just about everything else...rf (master/genesis), av, svideo and SCART.

Are you running emulators? How the heck are you getting PC VGA?