Video Mode Comparisons

First, let me preface this by saying it’s not a tremendously scientific experiment. Although I made sure my major camera settings didn’t change, there are a lot of factors on the monitors themselves that I’m not sure how to control or don’t have the ability to compensate for, and some results I can’t interpret in terms of what is causing what I see as differences and shortcomings. Also, I’ve made the images quite large, larger than usual, because it can be hard to discern the detail when they are small.

And nothing new or unexpected is happening here. This is just a light comparison in how much improvement can be achieved by using the best output mode. Anyway, here’s what I did.

First I put my MZ-700 up to the task. I connected it by both composite video (to my NEC PC-TV455) and by digital RGB (to my Sharp CZ-600DB) and then loaded the game “Ottotto”. First with lights on:

Then with the lights out:

The digital RGB is of course much clearer. I kind of feel that composite should have been better than it appears to be, though. But I’ve tried the composite output on another monitor, and it’s about the same. I wonder if something is not working quite right in the composite output circuitry.

Next I changed everything. The computer for this round is the Sony HB-F1XD (MSX2). The monitors are the same, but this time their functions are swapped – the PC-TV455 gets analog RGB and the CZ-600DB gets the composite. I shot it with both BASIC and the game Last Armageddon. Again, lights on:

And same scenes with the lights off.

And again, the analog RGB looks much nicer. It’s also noticeable on the MZ-700, but especially on the MSZ2, which displays kanji, the big difference is in the clarity of the text. Although my Sharp X1 Turbo Z in high-resolution mode by far provides the clearest text, upgrading from composite to RGB is still tremendously helpful in terms of clarity. Also, the color palette is surprisingly different, and some of it may be down to settings on the monitors, but at least to some extent, the color differences exist even if used on the same monitor.

Umm, also, if anyone knows how to remove that gigantic “P.”, I’d be really grateful! I think it requires the remote, which I don’t have.

Sharp CZ-600DB

I saw an auction for a (nother) Sharp X1 Turbo Z and this monitor – a Sharp CZ-600DB. Usually this stuff goes on Yahoo Auctions with the standard auction format, and it gets bid way expensive and finishes arbitrarily high. But I happened to catch this one with a fixed price – first to buy it gets it. The price was very reasonable for these items. The catch? It was untested. It was a toss of the dice that I couldn’t pass up.

As you can see, it was designed with the same aesthetics as the Sharp X1 Turbo Z. They look very handsome together, although I believe officially this is supposed to be a monitor for the X68000.

So I bought it and it was delivered to me and having these things shipped just makes me so gosh-darned nervous because even when they’re tested working, there’s a chance it will suddenly die from being used again after so long, or there was some internal damage during shipping, or the seller’s testing didn’t uncover some problems. Not even knowing if it’s *supposed* to work makes me all the more anxious! I opened it up and after removing some sticker residue, it looks quite nice.

But when I turned it on it looked pretty bad. Through composite, it had a very faded image and slanted horizontal lines running the whole screen. I switched to digital RGB and it got worse. I could barely discern that the monitor was receiving the signal at all, nearly nothing but those horizontal lines.

And then I left it alone. I let it sit for about an hour. When I came back to it, the picture had cleared up 100%. It was beautiful!

Turning off and right back on had no negative effect. But when I left it off for about an hour, it took about 10 seconds to reach the correct black level. When I finished for the night, I left it unplugged for about 18 hours. Upon plugging it back in, the horizontal lines were back. Nowhere near as strong as the day before, and it cleared up in about one minute. I guess it’s a capacitor problem.

Like my NEC PC-TV455, the CZ-600DB is a tri-sync monitor (15kHz, 24kHz, and 31kHz) and it incorporates a TV tuner. The CZ-600DB lacks a couple of connections that the PC-TV455 has, but it still has some pretty good hookups. It’s also a 15″ screen instead of 14″.

And plenty of controls to get just the right picture.

It came with the original factory stickers in place. I’ll be the first to admit, if it were me and I received this new at the time, I’d probably rip them right off and throw them in the trash. But they’ve been attached for 30 years now, so I think I’m just going to keep it that way!

I don’t know if it will surpass my PC-TV455 as my primary monitor in the long run, but right now I am enjoying looking at this lovely item perched above my own X1 Turbo Z.

Here it is displaying text and DoorDoor over analog RGB, and Haja no Fuuin on my PC-8801mk2 over digital RGB.

NEC PC-TV455

This is the monitor I use almost exclusively with my Japanese vintage computers. This is one serious CRT. I love my 1084S but this is just on a different level when it comes to functionality and connectivity.

The PC-TV455 is a tremendously flexible monitor. It can sync at 15kHz, 24kHz, and 31kHz, allowing perhaps any Japanese or western vintage computer to output to it. And just look at this array of connections:

Holy cow. From top left, we have VHF antenna, digital RGB, analog RGB 15-pin/analog RGB 9-pin (shared), UHF antenna, RGB21 (sometimes referred to as Japanese SCART), PC control on/off switch, composite 1/S-video (shared), composite 2, and composite out.

And look at all these knobs and switches to futz around with under the control panel cover.

But it’s not just functional, the image quality is superb! Here is what it’s currently displaying, by connection:
Digital RGB: NEC PC-8801MK2 (24kHz) – Nintendo Golf
Analog RGB: Sharp X1 Turbo Z – (24kHz) – Gradius
RGB21: FM-77AV20EX (15kHz) – F-BASIC 3.0

This is a highly-sought after monitor and as such it commands a pretty high price on Yahoo Auctions. I had a kind of tattered and beat-up version of this monitor before, it worked but the picture was a touch slanted and it didn’t have a base to stand on. I got it for a (relatively) low price and used it for about a year before finding this one. I hope to sell the old one in order to cover 60-70% of the cost of the new one. *fingers crossed*