Help me avoid teevee timesuck
July 26, 2007 1:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me mix a monitor, an old-school xBox and a couple of Macs.

So, my other half and I are moving into our first place together (yay!) and we're leaving my enormous tv with our current housemates. We don't want to get a replacement one, partly to reduce slack-jawed staring at the TV time and partly to avoid the license fee (we're in the UK), which isn't all that much, but is still money I don't want to spend if we're trying to cut-down the slack-jawage.

What I'd like to do is buy some kind of decent-sized monitor that would allow me to:

- Plug in an old-school xBox for some alien-slaying action (while I want to massively reduce passive screen-watching, I quite like a bit of button-mashing now and again)
- Plug in either a Macbook or an older iBook to watch DVDs, and use as a big monitor for working on.

What are my best options - I'm at a bit of a loss, with all these cables. I think I need something which accepts DVI and SCART. Is that right?

Budget - maybe £150-200 (is this realistic? Could I do it for less?)

Size, well, ideally 19 inch or a bit bigger.

Any ideas or recommendations?
posted by Happy Dave to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Your xBox output choices are (from worst to best quality) composite, s-video and component. The component output box is discontiuned by Microsoft but there are a bunch of cheaply made ones you can find on eBay.

The MacBook can do VGA or DVI. the white iBooks (I could be wrong) only does VGA. In any case they both need a special adapter to do any kind of video output.

So you should find a monitor that accepts these kind of inputs. I use a Dell 20" flat panel monitor can switch between DVI, Composite, S-Video and VGA and can even do picture in picture. I once had a Mac, PC, PS2 and Xbox all plugged in at once. I think the bigger/pricier Dell monitors can also accept component inputs.
posted by sammich at 3:05 AM on July 26, 2007

Just buy the biggest cheapest monitor with vga and dvi inputs you can find. That would probably be a 22 inch widescreen if you're prepared to dish out 150 £.

Connect your xbox with an xbox vga cable. You can find those basically anywhere. You should probably install XBMC while you're at it.

You can connect the macbook to the dvi in of the monitor.
posted by uandt at 3:06 AM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks folks, great answers.

On googling, it seems I can only find XBOX 360 VGA adapter cables - are they usable with the old xboxes?
posted by Happy Dave at 3:58 AM on July 26, 2007

The 360 VGA adapter cables are NOT compatible with the original Xboxes. Microsoft never released an official VGA cable for the Xbox, so you'll need something like the X2VGA adapter to use an Xbox on a VGA monitor.

Alternatively you can just get a monitor that accepts component cables, and use one of the easily attainable component cables for the original Xbox. The quality would be marginally higher also.
posted by wubbie at 9:32 AM on July 26, 2007

Uhm. I was wrong. Vga cables for for the old xboxes are apparently really hard to come by. Build one yourself here or just get a monitor that accepts component in as sammich suggested.

Or just get a cheap ass 32 inch lcd TV and resist the urge to connect the antenna cable...
posted by uandt at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2007

uandt: In the UK if you own a TV capable of receiving TV signals you still have to pay the TV license even if it is not plugged in. I guess thats the price we pay for having the greatest TV station in the world.
posted by gergtreble at 2:11 PM on July 26, 2007

I know of the UK mandatory license but I don't know the details of the terms. I'm pretty sure of one thing though. If they busted you for owning a TV that you used as a computer monitor their case wouldn't hold in court.

These laws are are normally stated as "Any device capable of receiving blah blah" which would in practice include things like cellphones and computers. Since the license system kind of works for all parties noone wants to dispute it but sooner or later all public TV in Europe is going to be government/tax funded. Thats my crackpot theory at least.

I would just buy the TV and not pay the license.
posted by uandt at 4:29 PM on July 26, 2007

BTW - a standard DVI output from your Mac can plug into an HDMI input with the proper connector.
posted by Caviar at 2:59 PM on July 27, 2007

Response by poster: Hi again folks,

uandt - getting a TV is definitely out of the picture, we don't want one and the TV Licensing people actually win in court all the time. Not really keen on a £2k fine.

I've just (by happy chance) inherited an old Compaq monitor that has VGA and DVI-D inputs on the back. My XBOX is a European one, so the cable that it had with it was a SCART cable with RGB connectors (and another SCART adapter you could plug the RGB into if your TV had a SCART socket). There's heaps of SCART > VGA adapters available, and I'm going to pop down to Maplins and see if I can find a SCART > DVI-D adapter too. I reckon we'll probably use the XBOX to watch DVDs (I found the DVD remote and plugin for it nestling at the bottom of a packing crate - I'd forgotten I had one).

Thanks for your help folks!
posted by Happy Dave at 1:30 AM on July 30, 2007

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