Watching the PS3

Posted on Monday, 4 June 2007

I don't even remotely have space at the moment for a large TV (even a flatscreen one), also they are still a little expensive (I figure if it's worth doing, it's worth getting a 40" Sony which does 1080p, but that's 1200 quid at the moment).
I really really didn't want to buy a small TV because they are overpriced (compared to higher resolution monitors) and the thing wouldn't be useful to me when I eventually get a proper TV.
Instead I went with the dirt cheap Dell SE198WFP 19" widescreen monitor. It's an inch smaller than the E207WFP I use for my PC, and consequently only supports slightly smaller resolutions (1440x900 being its maximum). However, it does have some features which make it particularly well suited to the PS3.
Dell SE198WFP
First off, it supports HDCP (the DRM system being used in the HDtv world), so I should be able to play back protected content without the PS3 refusing to trust me or downscaling it to an annoyingly low resolution.
900 rows of pixels means the maximum resolution falls somewhere between 720p and 1080i/1080p, however, the monitor supports both. This was especially surprising to me as I had expected to be "limited" to 720p (many/most PS3 games at the moment don't go higher than 720p anyway, and it's still a massive leap over standard definition TV). I need to do some more exhaustive comparisons, but I think I will be going with 720p rather than 1080i (it doesn't seem to support 1080p) because it's an uninterlaced mode, so there is absolutely no flickering. Either way the monitor is scaling the image - the question is, which direction is better? scaling 720 rows up to 900, or scaling 1080 rows down to 900. Time will tell (as will this blog!)
For anyone wondering how I managed to connect a monitor which only has DVI and VGA inputs to the PS3 which only has HDMI, component and composite outputs - fear not, HDMI is actually a combination of DVI signals, audio and probably some other gumpf), so it is entirely possible to convert the HDMI output of the PS3 to DVI. That means no analogue signal/conversion at all, so the picture quality is superb and the cables to do it can be obtained easily and cheaply online (don't splash out on a stupidly expensive gold cable, it's a digital signal so cable quality matters a lot less. Just avoid the inexplicably cheap ones on ebay from the far east, they look very dodgy!).

If you're looking to put a PS3 in a bedroom and don't really care for a TV, I would thoroughly recommend this monitor, especially since you'll still have the VGA port free for other things.

I'm sure you won't care, but it also just happens to fit exactly into the only appropriate place for it on my desk!

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  1. Hi, I'm thinking of getting the same monitor to hook up to a ps3 and was wondering how you'd found yours after a couple of months of use. Did you end up sticking with the 720p resolution and did you have any issues with the widescreen format being 16:9 on the ps3 and 16:10 on the monitor ? Cheers.

  2. I have indeed stuck with 720p. I did recently discover that I can coax the monitor into displaying 1080p, but I think it looks worse than 720p.
    Both modes involve scaling, and while scaling up can make things look a little blurry, scaling down can distort. I was noticing that fonts would look wrong (presumably the monitor doesn't have a particularly good scaler, and nor should it).
    I don't think it really matters because it's a fairly small monitor and 720p still looks awesome compared to crappy old TV resolutions.

    The aspect ratio (16:9 vs 16:10) never bothers me in games. I've watched a few movies on the thing and I do notice it there, but I don't plan on buying a huge number of bluray movies until I own a big TV (I have a 20" Dell on my PC right next to the 19" dell on the ps3, so I tend to watch movies on the PC where software can compensate for the aspect). It's worth noting that the 19" dell doesn't offer any scaling/adjustment stuff from the menus for digital modes (or at least for digital modes from the ps3). It gets the sizes/positions right, but it means I can't correct for the 16:10 aspect.
    Like I said though, I never notice it in games.

    All in all, I'm very happy with it :)

  3. Thanks for the article. I have this exact monitor and was wondering if it would work with a PS3.

    A quick question if I may. How do you get sound? My PC goes to my speakers via a small green headphone jack (still can't believe such a simple connection works for all that sound information).

    Is there a simlar jack on the PS3?

  4. Bob: I've always run the sound from the headphone jack on my PC to an external amplifier which has multiple inputs and so I just add the PS3 to that.

    It doesn't have a headphone socket, but it does have three options for sound output - either HDMI, Optical, or the old-style Playstation AV connection. HDMI is obviously out of the question if you're using the Dell monitor and if you're just using speakers than Optical is probably not much use either.

    What you could do is use the AV cable that came with the PS3. It turns the AV connection into three RCA jacks - one for video and two for audio. It's entirely possible and cheap to get converters that will turn the two RCA jacks into a headphone connection, which you could either swap with the PC, or if you leave the PC switched on all the time, you could run the PS3 into the line-in headphone socket on the back of the PC and not have to swap any cables ever.

    Thanks to the excellent configs on the PS3 you can choose where you sent the video and sound, so you can tell it to send the video out of the HDMI port and the sound out of the AV one :)

  5. Well, I finally got a PS3 and a HDMI to DVI lead. All works like a dream and it's nice to see the difference in image quality between my standard TV and the Dell monitor. I managed to get the sound running via my Logitech speakers by finding a 2 AV to female jack adapter which does the trick.

    The only minor grumble I have is the slight stretching of the 16:9 PS3 image to the 16:10 monitor. I wish there was a way to get the 16:9 image with black borders but I don't think there is. It's not a huge problem and films are still watchable but I'd have liked to have been able to use the new DVD upscaling feature to watch standard DVDs in their proper ratio.

    Finally, I did encounter another problem which I fixed and may be of use to other users. When I first set up the monitor all worked fine for games and menu screens but as soon as I put a standard DVD in (haven't tried BD yet) the screen went black and I had to reboot the PS3. I initially thought this was due to copy protection but it seems if I go into "Display Settings" and untick the 1080p option, it all works fine.

  6. i already have one of those monitors and im thinking of doing the same thing with my ps3 im hoping it works and im not one of the unfortunate ones that experience problems (blank screen only )

  7. will this work with the ps3 slim as well ?