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Televisions can be used in place of arcade monitors. Although not as authentic, televisions offer reasonable video performance with definite cost savings. While TVs do not appear as authentic as actual arcade monitors, they may appear more authentic than the output from a computer monitor with the added benefit that smaller Windows text boxes can still be read, unlike the output from an arcade monitor.

Note: When you live in Europe a (used) TV is an excellent choice for your cabinet, as you can use the SCART connector to feed the RGB signal directly to the screen. In this way, a TV is exactly the same as a "genuine" arcade monitor and is NOT less authentic. In Europe, "real" arcade monitors are both very hard to get (especialy new) AND very expensive. This is a second great reason to select a TV as your monitor.

Some caution: The SCART expects 0,7 V levels for the signals, while most arcade PCB's (and the video amp in the J-PAC f.i.) deliver 5 V signals. Most TV's seem to have no problem with this but you could damage it. Connecting directly from a VGA card that delivers a 15 kHz signal (like the ArcadeVGA) is no problem at all since those produce signals of around 1V.

Connection types

When using a TV, make sure to match the outputs of your video card to the inputs of your television. Several types of video are available when using a TV, each with varying strengths and weaknesses. The more common formats are:

The type of connection you can use may depend on the connections your videocard can offer and the connections your television accepts.

Things to consider when choosing a TV

Some things to consider when choosing a TV for your cabinet:

  • How big is the case? Do you want to leave the TV in its case or strip the case off to fit a bigger tube in your cabinet? Is the TV case too deep to fit while your cabinet still has its back panel on?
  • Where are the video inputs? Is the video-in port/jack on the TV in an inconvenient place? If it is on the front of the case? Will there be room between the front of the TV and the bezel?
  • Does the TV return to the last channel/input when power is cut? If you unplug the TV and then plug it back in (or turn off and on its power strip), does it return to the channel/input it was on last, or does it default to a different channel?
  • Will you use it for other media? Will you watch TV on your cab? Will you need to use the TV's remote?
  • The most important question... will the TV automaticallly power itself back on after a "power failure." If you turn the cabinet's power off, you want the TV to turn itself back on automatically when you later power the cabinet back on.
  • If you choose a modern 100Hz, Full HD, LCD or Plasma TV it is wise to check image-processing delays. When you watch TV shows or a movie, this factor is not a problem. If an image is delayed 0.2 seconds, no one will notice. With gaming this can be a big problem though. Run this test to see how fast the TV response is. You need a 2 head displaycard with mirrored image. One must be connected to a CRT monitor as reference, which can be expected to deliver fast response. The other is connected to the TV you consider for the cabinet. Make a photo with a camera, and compare the timings on each screen. If the delay is more than 0.05 seconds, gaming will be seriously affected by the TV signal processing.

TV hacks

Be sure that you know what you are doing before attempting to work on any CRT display (like a TV or Arcade monitor) as various components in them can carry lethal electrical charges even when unplugged!

  • Desolder IR tab from TV board, splice length of wire from board to IR tab, move IR tab into marquee or bezel area so it can receive remote signals better
  • TVs generally fit into arcade monitor brackets. Remove TV from case, and bolt into old arcade monitor brackets for a solid installation
  • (When mounting a TV onto arcade monitor backets) If you don't feel like putting screws into your TV's circuit board, use a rotary tool to cut the TV's circuit board plastic mounting slots out of the TV case. You can then screw, bolt, or twist-tie the mounting slots into your cabinet and place the circuit board back into the mounting slots.
  • To get better antenna reception, run a 10' wire from the antenna input on your tv, out of the back of your cabinet along the complete height of the cabinet. You can staple or glue the wire flat to the cabinet. You can then paint the antenna wire if you choose.
  • Use the TVs audio out to drive your cabinet's speakers. Run audio from your computer to your TV's audio in. You can cut the TV's audio wires to the puny TV speakers and then run the wires to the cabinet's mono or stereo speakers. The quality is low, but the quality on most original arcade cabinets was pretty low also.

See Also