If you’ve ever wondered why S-Video is better than composite (and RF for that matter), the answer is simple — it separates brightness and color signals, and the result is less noise and bleeding between the two. Composite jams both signals together, which causes all sorts of horrible effects, like colors blending into each other at the edges and weird bumps and ridges on straight vertical and horizontal lines. Your TV shouldn’t have to suffer this ignominy.
So if your TV has S-Video input, you need an S-Video cable — we recommend it wholeheartedly for sharper, clearer images on screen. Monster’s cable, however, steps things up a notch. Although there are a ton of high-tech reasons why the Monster cable improves the picture, such as nitrogen-injected gas dielectric insulation to cut out internal and external interference, there are a couple of clever low-tech solutions here too. For example, the contacts have split tips, making them springy — so when you plug them in, they constantly exert pressure over the surface, so they simply fit better. More contact means a steadier signal and, therefore, a better picture.
The 24k gold contacts are precision machined for better conductivity and signal transfer — and they look cool. Too bad you have to plug ’em in and hide ’em. Aesthetics and ergonomics are a big concern. The 10-foot cable is thick and in a particularly jarring shade of blue — matching the PS2’s blue highlights perfectly — and the connectors at each end have a soft rubber thumb pad, a nice touch that makes insertion and retraction much more pleasant. It also makes the cable easy to find in the dark netherworld behind your TV.
In our test, on a Sony Wega and a Sharp 27″ — both with digital comb filter — the results were staggering. We expected an improvement, of course, but compared to Sony’s own cables, both composite and S-Video, there was simply no comparison. This is as close to a VGA-quality display as you’re likely to see on the PS2 right now — sharp edges, perfect detail and crisp, well-defined colors. Anyone, including certain otherwise unimpressible girlfriends, can see the difference immediately.
The games we tested included Smuggler’s Run, Tekken Tag Tournament and Ridge Racer V. Although there were distinct and brilliant improvements in each case, they were most noticeable on Smuggler’s Run, where distant objects (layers of hills and trees) showed clearly using Monster when they were simply invisible using the Sony composite cable.
There’s also a distinct (but less so) benefit to audio output — but really, you’ll want to go for digital optical for best results — and yes, you’ll need a decoder too. As it stands, the Monster S-Video cable represents the absolute state-of-the-art in video game cabling, and it’s very easy to recommend.