NEO GEO & PICTURE QUALITY
Then comes the question of the brand! Considering the prices of these TVs nowadays, let's aim at the high end. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises, because usually low end CRT TV only featured the standard PAL/SECAM format on scart... Panasonic, Sony, Bang & Olufsen, Grundig, Toshiba, Phillips are good references. Plus, the life of these models should be longer those from other brands. About the size (I have tested screens ranging from 40cm to 127cm) I recommend a diagonal between 55 and 84cm. Indeed, below this size of display the details are less clear, and with sizes above 84 the pixels become a little too big and you loose some definition. The ideal size, after many attempts on screens of various sizes, stands for a 72cm screen.
By choosing the right TV, you solve three of the six criteria on one shot: type of TV, brand and model, and size. Let's now look for the cable and system.
2. System serial and cable
Yet few people know this, but not all the Neo Geo AES consoles feature the same video quality. Indeed, some systems pack high quality RGB outputs, and other outputs of lesser quality. In way to explain more clearly what things are made of, here is the first list of existing video cables for the Neo Geo, in order of increasing quality:
- RF Cable (plugs on TV tuner)
- Component Cable (Yellow & white Cinch)
- RGB Cable
RGB, which uses the scart plug, is offering the best display quality. Now, the scart is a European invention from the eighties, and first only european and later US televisions were featuring this format. In Japan, the standard was the Cinch, ie the composite display. SNK, doing things the good way, has produced U.S. and EURO systems, packing a video output optimized for RGB display. These consoles also manage the composite output, which you will understand, had no interest for us, since it offered lower quality than the RGB. You can guess the rest? Japanese consoles, on their side, offered a quality optimized for the Cinch, and a very poor RGB output - since it was almost unused in Asia. This fact didn't get better with time, since last systems were produced with an even worse output quality for RGB (dithered), so with these machines, you'd better use mainly component output. Now, you might want to know which category is your machine, or how to choose the best as possible? Thanks to informations gathered here and there, here is a table listing the quality level of picture, based on the serial number of the AES system:
The Neo Geo offering the best picture quality with the RGB are those having a serial number between 20,000 and 39,000. The machines with these serial numbers are exclusively U.S. or EURO, with very few exceptions. The Neo Geo with serial numbers below 20,000 as well as above 39.000 are 90% Japanese. The recommended cable is a standard RGB, the best quality possible, as for example the official SNK one if you find it, for example. Below, you can see the mini-circuit affixed to the motherboard, found on consoles that benefited from the video overhaul for RGB. It consists on a brown plate on which components are installed. It's connected to the video circuit of the Neo Geo, and substantially improves the RGB rendering.
About the censorship (blood on screen and other things) I recommend you to equip your Neo Geo with Universe Bios.
3. Fine settings
Besides the traditional colors settings, contrast and brightness, sharpness adjustment is often possible (not always available). Advanced settings are generally not available, you have to access the TV's SERVICE MENU first. These settings adjusts the geometry and more complex aspects of the image. To get there, the manipulation is different for each brand, but it's usually a combination of keys on the remote control. Perform the search on Google for more information. This famous menu will let you firstly to set the size (width and height) of the picture, thus obtaining perfect proportions and centering. Other geometry settings will be accessible too, and it's up to you to spend some time on it, to make final adjustments to reach the top quality! A little advice, write on a paper the defaults for each setting first, so you can go back if you ever lose the basics ...
Last tip, use a Jack to enjoy the Stereo on the console via the headphone plug on the front. Connect this one on a small stereo or better on the back of your TV - if it packs stereo feature... et le tour est joué, voilà!