If you only remember one thing from this article, remember this: After the memory card, the single most important upgrade for your console is an upgraded video cable.
Some of you may be surprised to read that the PlayStation 2 and TV are not configured for an optimal picture and audio quality straight out of the box. Neither is an Xbox or Gamecube. Some of you may be familiar with upgraded cables, but be unsure about the advantages on a “regular TV” as opposed to an exotic $15,000 plasma. Others may wonder if ultra-high-end cables such as those from Monster Cable are actually better than other cables. In this feature, we’ll look at these questions and try to explain some of the concepts behind video quality without being too technical. We’ll focus mostly on the PlayStation 2, as it is the most popular console, but by the time you finish reading this, you’ll know how to maximize your console’s picture and sound performance, whether you have an AV system that’s 10 years old or 10 days old. This is a comprehensive article, so make sure you’re comfy before you start reading.
The first step in tweaking your console picture quality is using an appropriate video cable, and to do this we’ll need to know the supported inputs for your TV. So, you’ll either need to find your TV manual or take a look at the back panel of the TV as you read this next section.
All of you will have an RF connector. This is the input you normally use for your TV antenna and represents the oldest and worst format available. With this connection, the audio and video signal from the console must be converted into a “Cable/Antenna” channel for Channel 3 or 4. In the process, not only is the video quality greatly reduced but your console will also be limited to reduced-quality mono sound. If this is the only connector you have on the back of your TV, we’re really sorry. There’s not much you can do to improve your picture quality other than buying a new TV.
The composite video connector is the next most common input found on TVs, and unsurprisingly this is what the PS2, Xbox, and GC ship out of the box. In this approach, the video and audio signals are sent separately. Once the signal from the console system reaches the TV, it is decoded into separate luma (a form of brightness or intensity) and chroma (color) information.