Monday, July 11, 2005

MAME cabinet: television selection

My ultimate plan is to use a 27" TV in the MAME cabinet, for cost reasons.

A large computer monitor is cost-prohibitive, and a large arcade monitor is pretty pricey too. A large TV will give a great screen size, and offer video that looks similar to what the arcade monitors look like. It's not perfect--it's a compromise.

The target television needed to have S-Video in, and a nice 27" size, with a fairly flat screen. I also wanted something with a minimal cabinet, i.e. no silly speakers mounted on the side--a look I hate and one that would make the TV too big for the proposed cabinet.

I wasn't planning to get this TV right away, as I'm nowhere near starting work on the cabinet, but with our current Sony displaying more problems every time it's turned on (thanks to kids who like nothing better than switching it on and off) when the Toshiba 27A34 went on sale at Sears for $260 CDN, I decided to spring into action.

It's a pretty nice television. It's got component video inputs, which is unusual on that size of a tube TV. The screen isn't pure flat, but pretty close--it's flatter than my 16-year-old Sony. It also has quite a smaller cabinet than the Sony, and is about 40 pounds lighter (at 80 pounds) than the Sony, so I'll feel better about putting it into the cabinet.

It's even, in theory, controllable via the universal remote that I have on my digital cable box. Unfortunately, the Toshiba setup codes for the universal remote all start with 0, and I can't enter 0 on that remote anymore, thanks to the day my 1-year-old introduced the remote to a tall glass of water. Numerous buttons never recovered from that incident, the 0 among them.

So for the time being, the new Toshiba is replacing our Sony upstairs, the idea being that I'll switch back when the arcade cabinet is closer to completion... or perhaps not. Maybe I'll find a way to make the Sony work in the arcade cabinet on a temporary basis... until we can get our dream TV purchased.

So I ordered a component video cable from RP Electronics, who sell a 6-footer for $15, a far cry from the $50 that most retail stores want. Seeing I was ordering, I also grabbed a couple of 120mm AC fans for the MAME cabinet. They've got some nice ball bearing AC fans with metal impellers, which should help them last a little longer. I also ordered a few other miscellaneous goodies that will be useful in the guts of the cabinet (AC plugs with wire leads, power bar with EMI/RFI filtering, external AC socket that will allow me to plug computer power-supply style cords into the cabinet to power it--much nicer than having a static cord sticking out of the box).

As it stands, the TV gives a very decent picture, even though, due to someone, most likely one of the boys, or maybe even me, treading on the end of the S-Video cable from the amp to the TV while it was unplugged and bending the shell, it's only running on a composite cable at the moment. Colours look bright and vivid and it was great to fire up LOTR:FOTR the other day and look at Orthanc without it being all squiggly.

The gun on the Sony was off, so most straight lines were squiggly, though you'd be amazed at how well the brain ignores that sort of thing and just sees the line as straight. I used to have to pause the image to verify that it was happening. It was really noticeable on vertical wipes though, where a straight object was being drawn on the screen, and you could see the bits of it shift as the picture was wiped on to the screen. Most noticeable on the boys' Baby Mozart DVD. Maybe I should drop that in and check it.

A parent *and* a geek: using a kid's video to check out my new TV. Sigh.

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