Component output versus RCA on XBOX

Geektastic topic, I know - but is there much difference?

I’ve got AV leads (red and white for sound, yellow for video) going from box to my new TV which gives a pretty good picture, but as i understand it component leads split up the video signal into three channels for a clearer picture, the leads are coloured green blue and … yellow, I think.

My question is, how much better is it? Worth the hassle of tracking down and buying the right leads? or not that flash? I use the box as a DVD player too, so playback quality is an issue. The TV definitely has component inputs.



ps Also, is morrowind good on xbox?

I’d go component. The quality increase is amazing…sharp, smooth n’ sexy.


Your TV has component inputs, yes? It’s not that hard to track down the cables you need. Go to Best Buy or EB or something and buy the High Def pack or a third party component cable.

Composite video, which you’re using now, is suck-tacular. It offers roughly the same vertical resolution as standard NTSC video but only about 200-220 lines of horizontal resolution. It’s also trying to cram all the signal info down one wire, which leads to all sorts of crappy picture nonsense.

A big step up is S-Video, which seperates the luminance and chrominance each onto their own wires (a wire for the black & white of the picture and a wire for the colors, basically). It delivers a horizontal resolution of like 400-420 lines. So like, twice the resolution of composite. The difference is very noticeable on almost any game.

If you’ve actually got component inputs, that’s best of all. It’s individual wires for red, green, and blue, and offers potentially the highest resolution (up to 1920x1080 interlaced or 1280x720 progressive for widescreen HDTV if you’ve got it). A whole lot of TVs these days have component inputs even if they’re not HDTVs, and for console games that’s going to be a little better than S-Video but not a huge difference. The huge difference only comes if you’ve got an HDTV and can run in progressive-scan or high-res modes.

So to sum up:

Composite (one yellow RCA cable): god awful
S-Video (black cable with little prongs): pretty good for games
Component (three RCA cables): little bit better than S-Video on regular TVs, way better on HTDV.

I can’t find the one review with screenshots I saw, but apparently those really really high quality cables (from monster cables and the like) are worth every penny.

Grr, anyone know what I’m talking about?

Monster pushes overpriced crap. Maybe if you spent $50,000.00 on your home theater you might start noticing the difference. But to hook up to a 27 in. analog TV, don’t bother paying twice as much for cables.

Yeah, I’m sure their cables are solid enough and the cheapest edition (Monster Video 1, the one in the normal price range) might be worth the money. Don’t bother with the rest, though, unless maybe you already have an HDTV. Looks like the typical high-end ripoff to me, basically the same cable but with meaningless extras and twice as expensive.

When I was recently figuring out the best connections for a new TV, I used several different combinations of cables (from cheapo to MV1), switches & distributors to hook up my DVD player and consoles, but I never noticed any difference. As long as there was an RGB signal coming in, the picture was always brilliant and pixel-precise (on the consoles).

This is something that’s been confusing me for a while. What EXACTLY is the resolution I get on my 27 inch TV if I use the standard composite inputs for my GC?

I thought the resolution of the output was going to be about 640x480 on a TV regardless. The posts above seem to indicate that using a different cable will actually change the resolution of the output. Is that true?

My TV has s-video and component inputs. Am I going to notice a difference if I use the component inputs? Is this the same concept as increasing the resolution on my pc monitor from 640x480 to 800x600?

Why can’t TV’s be easy to understand like monitors?

It’s not the cable. Component (RGB), S-Video (S-VHS), and composite input use different encodings for the same signal. Your console always generates pictures at a fixed resolution but some transmission methods, namely composite video, are incapable of transferring that resolution. So adjacent pixels get smeared together.

It’s not immediately noticeable unless you have a direct comparison because the information reduction is analogue, not digital, which means that pixels blend together more or less smoothly – they aren’t fused into big rectangular blocks which is what would happen if you’d change the resolution of a digital device.

My TV has s-video and component inputs. Am I going to notice a difference if I use the component inputs? Is this the same concept as increasing the resolution on my pc monitor from 640x480 to 800x600?

No. As Jason Cross said, there isn’t a big difference between S-video and component input for non-HDTV TVs because even S-Video can more or less exhaust the resolution available on a standard TV. You’ll get a bigger difference, similar to switching resolutions on the PC (except with an anti-aliasing effect as outlined above), when moving from composite to either component (RGB) or S-Video.

Why can’t TV’s be easy to understand like monitors?

Because video cards and monitors were developed with high-resolution signal transfer in mind. Monitors are never fed composite signals whose transmission capacity is lower than the original image’s resolution. If they were you’d see the same effects.

The basic problem is one of legacy technology. Television was originally designed for purely analogue sources of usually poor quality, i.e. aerial transmissions. It didn’t matter if a connection couldn’t transfer the theoretical maximum resolution of a TV device since ordinary people didn’t have any sources capable of producing this resolution anyway.

Thanks for the info!

I’m gonna go get a GCN s-video cable today. I only have one s-video input on my TV, but thankfully I have a pricey switch box sitting around that supports s-video.

Are you sure the US version of the GameCube supports S-video? I’m just asking because the Euro version doesn’t – I had to use my TV’s RGB input to get a decent picture.

Moreover, because I wanted to hook up several RGB devices to a TV with a single RGB input and Nintendo had also skimped on the electrical design of the video output, I had to get a special RGB switch that completely separates the unconnected device from the TV input and the other outputs. Otherwise the GC wouldn’t produce any sound, and even interfere with the video signal when another source was active!

But that’s my experience with the European PAL version of the GameCube, maybe the American NTSC version is better.

EDIT: Forget what I said about problems with the PAL version. They are related to the standard European SCART connection, and I just realized that you don’t have SCART connections in America. Just buy any RGB switcher you like. :)

Standard NTSC TVs have 525 lines of vertical resolution, some of which are used up encoding things like closed captioning and stuff, so in practice it’s actually 484 lines.

That’s INTERLACED - 484 “fields” at 60 times a second, with each “field” being only the odd or even lines, not both. Actual horizontal resolution of NTSC in computer terms 242 lines at 30 FRAMES per second (okay, 29.97 fps, but that’s splitting hairs).

The trick is, normal TV is analog - there IS no set horizontal resolution. It’s fixed at 242 lines top to bottom, but the number of lines you get left to right depends on your input source, TV electronics, signal strength, and so on.

With composite video, you probably get a resolution on your TV of 220 lines across at best. With S-Video or component, more like 400-480. Most non-HDTVs can’t display more than that.

A lot of good new TVs have “line doublers” and stuff in them to give the TV a lot more vertical resolution by doubling up all those interlaced horizontal lines. It works well, but is not substitute for HDTV.

To put it in approximate computer terms…

Composite video = 220x242 resolution (yikes!)
S-Video = 420x242
Component = whatever your TV can handle. =)

One of the big reasons TVs don’t look as bad as their stats is because they’re not sharp. Colors bleed into one another and stuff. Once they started making really sharp TVs, they had to build in all kinds of circuitry to fill in the gaps and double up lines and junk to make it look right.

Jumping from composite video to s-video on a decent normal TV is the PC equivalent of jumping from 640x480 to almost 1024x768 - a little more than twice the picture information!

I thought the resolution of the output was going to be about 640x480 on a TV regardless. The posts above seem to indicate that using a different cable will actually change the resolution of the output. Is that true?

Yes, because there are no discrete “pixels” on a TV, not like on a PC. A TV just draws horizontal lines from top to bottom, one screen of odd lines then one screen of even lines, at a certain speed. It’s analog, like a radio. The more info you can send it and the better the TV can process it, the more changes in color/brightness it can do on each of those lines as it works its way down the screen. Just like having better radio circuitry or picking up a stronger signal can inprove the “resolution” of an FM radio and make it sound better.

[quoteMy TV has s-video and component inputs. Am I going to notice a difference if I use the component inputs? Is this the same concept as increasing the resolution on my pc monitor from 640x480 to 800x600?[/quote]

Probably not, not unless you have an HDTV. You WILL notice a difference using the S-Video instead of composite, though. Don’t confuse COMPOSITE (one yellow jack) with COMPONENT (three jacks-red, green, and blue). I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, it’s just a common mistake.

Oh, and all that Monster Cable and stuff is overpriced fluff you don’t need. It’s made for A/V enthusiasts who have to buy the more expensive thing that they’re convinced will look or sound better, so much so that they swear they can see or hear the difference. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great cable, it’s just a lot greater than you’re likely to notice.

The truth is, unless you’ve got all kinds of ungodly signal noise and interference where your cables are, you don’t need it. If you’ve got a “noisy” environment, electromagnetically speaking, the superior shielding might help. Odds are you don’t.

If you ever look at an Audio or Video enthusiast magazine, see if they actually do BLIND listening or viewing tests. (Blind viewing? Yeah, I mean looking at the picture without knowing which brand they’re checking out or what the price is) You’ll find that they almost NEVER do. Then ask yourself why.

In all honesty, once you get past a certain (pretty affordable) level of quality, you start paying some really serious bucks for a such a miniscule improvement in picture or sound that a normal person wouldn’t ever notice. MAYBE if it was side-by-side, but you don’t have two different AV setups side by side in your living room, do you? :)

Thanks for the extra info…that really explains things better.

One thing I’m a bit confused about is the vertical resolution. It seems like you’re saying that there are 484 lines of vertical resolution, but since it’s interlaced, you’re only see 242 lines at one time. But I gather that because of the way this is done, you’re eye is tricked into thinking you’re getting 484 lines.

So in diagram form (asterisk lines are drawn):

Cycle 1:
01 *********************************************
03 *********************************************

Cycle 2:
02 *********************************************
04 *********************************************

etc, but your eye gets tricked into seeing
01 *********************************************
02 *********************************************
03 *********************************************
04 *********************************************

Is this correct? If so, I would call this 420x484.

Well…whether we’re talking about 420x242 or 420x484 I still find it mind boggling that the picture looks that good at such a low resolution. When I’m playing my cube the picture looks about like I would I would expect to see from 640x480 with 4x AA turned on. I guess this is because of the fact that pixels on the TV get sort of blended together.

I just picked up the s-video cable at lunch which I’ll try out on StarFox Adventures tonight. Theoretically, since StarFox is supposed to be one of the best looking games for the cube, I should notice a difference.

Well, I hooked my GC up with the new s-video cable I bought yesterday, and I really can see a difference. Not only that, but I can prove it.

For the first time yesterday, I actually saw jaggies on my television!

Yup, the amazing result of getting an s-video cable is that you go from a fuzzy blended image to a sharp jagged image! :D

Actually, the text is much sharper, and I do think it looks better. The jaggies aren’t really that noticeable.

I got an Interact S-Video cable that also has a composite jack, so I connected them both so I could switch the TV channels back and forth between composite in and s-vid in to compare. The color saturation and sharpness of the S-Video is really noticible when comparing with composite when switching that fast. It’s like your persistence of vision makes you keep seeing the composite image for half a second, then you see the new picture and wow! it looks better. Strangely, Resident Evil wasn’t that much better with S-video, maybe because it’s so dark, but s-video put the SHINE in Super Mario Sunshine!

You know, my Philips TV uses the “change the channel to get a different input concept.” It sounds like maybe your tv does too.

I like it better than hitting some video source button. The channel method makes switching to a different source more seamless.

I recently picked up a new TV for my office to upgrade from the 19" 10 year old TV we had in there. I went intending to get a $300 Sony flatscreen 20" TV but after my son and I looked around a bit we finally settled on the 27" RCA with the VPort Xbox connector. We originally got it for $299 from Best Buy but ended up going back after it was on special and getting it for $255. The Vport connector cost $20 and we decided we would use s-video for the PS2. I have to say this TV rocks. The picture is clear and sharp and it makes every game look so much better. The other thing that is great is the sound built into the TV is far and away the best sound I have heard from a TV. I hear things now I hadn’t heard before in console games.

I wasn’t really looking for HDTV but this thing apparently does output 720p and it is really noticable in THPS4 (one of the handful of HD ready games). The PS2 games look better as well, crisper and more defined through the s-video port.

So the moral of the story is, if you have an older crappy TV with composite input you are going to see a huge difference going to a new TV and even better a new TV with s-video and or component interfaces.

– Xaroc

The consensus on the net seems to be that you see the biggest difference when you jump from RF or Composite to s-video.

Currently, I have my TiVo and my cube connected with s-video, my DVD with component, and my shitty old VCR with composite.

I think it’s easy to see the difference between RF or composite and s-video, and I also feel like I can see a difference between s-video and component, but maybe that’s just because the DVD output signal is so much better. I haven’t compared DVD s-video output vs DVD component output on my TV.

As far as VHS goes, I haven’t watched a VHS tape in about 6 months, and quite frankly if I never watch another VHS tape again it will be too soon. (Home movies excluded I guess, although I’ve been slowly importing my old home movies to digital format on my PC.)

I’m really excited about the future of home media. I would really like to see these new XP Media Center PCs take off. I’d eventually like to get an HDTV/monitor and a Media Center style PC and combine most of my gaming (console and PC) and TV watching in the same location. Then, I can basically set up a crappy PC with a small LCD monitor in another room, network the two together and only use the desktop PC occasionally.