Most modern HDTVs available today only offer HDMI and maybe component video inputs — neither of which the PlayStation (PSX/PS1/PSOne) supports.
However, the PSX outputs RGB (red/green/blue) signals through its video output port to produce the best colors and picture quality.
How can we use RGB with today’s HDMI televisions and monitors? This requires two items: a PSX SCART cable and a SCART-to-HDMI converter. With these, we can achieve almost pixel-perfect sharpness and colors from a nearly 20-year-old gaming console.
This is the device that converts the RGB SCART into 720p/1080p HDMI for modern HDTVs.
PSX SCART Cable
SCART cables are available for a number of consoles, so you must obtain one for the console you wish to use. A PS1/PS2/PS3 RGB SCART cable connects to the PlayStation, and there is a large SCART connector on the other end that connects to the SCART converter.
SCART, which stands for Syndicat des Constructeurs d’Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs, is a European format (also available in Japan with some differences). RGB is the best signal quality available from a PSX console, but we need to use SCART to get it. The inferior RF, composite, and S-Video signals are practically non-existent on HDTVs today, so we must use a converter that converts SCART to HDMI.
PSX SCART can be hit or miss. Some have reported issues with some PSX SCART cables not working with some PSX consoles. For myself, these two items work perfectly together, and I have never experienced any issues. Games play fine on an HDMI monitor.
There are also reports of some HDTVs being incompatible with the converter. I used a computer monitor, and everything worked well. No problems.
I tested the converter with these PSX consoles:
and they all worked fine. SCART video quality was the same for each.
“Isn’t this a cheap converter?”
Yes, but coming from S-Video — the highest PSX video quality that I had available at the time — RGB SCART is superior by leaps and bounds. The picture quality is almost — almost — as close as the pixel-perfect sharpness of PSX emulators. Some fuzziness is noticeable but nothing compared to composite or S-Video.
There is a far better converter called the Framemeister that reportedly produces video quality as good as an emulator with astounding sharpness, but this device is prohibitively expensive. For my needs, I am more than happy with the lower-cost device despite its flaws.
“What about the PS2 and PS3?”
Yes, the same PSX SCART cable was 100% compatible with the PS2 and the PS3. The PS2 also outputs RGB signals. SCART image quality on the PS2 is better than component output. However, make sure to set the PS2 to RGB mode in its settings or else you will see a green screen.
There is no point in using SCART with the PS3 since the PS3 already outputs HDMI. I did not see any PS3 video improvement using SCART.
Yes. You will see black borders around the image. The image will not expand to fill the entire screen. However, the borders are the least prominent with the PS1 + SCART. The PS2 and PS3 produce thicker black borders.
“How about high-definition rendering?”
No. The SCART-to-HDMI converter will not turn PS1 games into high-resolution, anti-aliased marvels. That would require an emulator, such as RetroArch. This device only upscales. That is, it converts the 240p/480p signal into 720p/1080p HDMI. If a game is pixelated, then it will still appear pixelated at 1080p through HDMI.
“Is the sound quality any good?”
NO! This cheap SCART-to-HDMI converter does offer sound output through a 3.5mm jack and the HDMI output itself, but the sound is distorted, noisy, and has annoying “clicking” sounds in the audio.
For best results, use an SCPH-1001 PlayStation that has the RCA stereo audio jacks on the back. Connect your audio equipment directly to the PlayStation for the cleanest sound.
For my setup, 1080p would not work. The converter cycles through a number of different output resolutions with the press of a button, but 720p was the highest that was compatible with my monitor and the PlayStation SCART conversion. 1080p resulted in a “No Signal” message.
“What about Silent Hill?”
Reportedly, converter units like this blank the display for a few seconds when switching resolutions in-game. (The video returns after a moment.) This is most noticeable during the game Silent Hill when the game switches from 240p (gameplay) to 480p (item menu).
I did not have a chance to test this game, so I do not know how this unit handles in-game resolution switching. Just something to keep in mind.
“Is there any input lag?”
No. I tested a few twitch-response games like Ridge Racer, and I could not find any input lag. The on-screen action matched controller button presses exactly. Whether or not all games are like this I cannot say, but for the few games I tested, all of them were instantaneous.
“What do screenshots look like?”
Lacking a proper video capture device, I used a camera to take screenshots. Real life image quality is better, but the camera is fine for showing a general comparison. I tested Final Fantasy VII using six different techniques:
- PS1 + SCART
- PS2 + Component (Connected to HDMI monitor via component-to-HDMI converter)
- PS2 + SCART
- PS3 + HDMI
- RetroPie 4 + Normal Resolution
- RetroPie 4 + High-Def Rendering
Final Fantasy VII is an excellent game for screenshot testing because the game can be paused and the disk removed and used in another console to load the same scene.
Great device. Yes, it has limitations, such as poor audio quality, black borders, potential issues with some SCART cables and HDTVs, but it works well for me and I am more than happy. A Framemeister would certainly be better, but spending an exorbitant amount of money for one inexpensive console seems like a waste.
RGB SCART is certainly the way to go. Despite the large, bulky SCART connector, the video quality is impressive.
And to think that the original PlayStation console was capable of doing this all along…