This is a post that probably won’t make hardcore classic arcade collectors very happy, while enticing arcade operators and more casual home arcade fans. The debate of whether or not older arcade machines should have their CRT monitors replaced with LCDs has raged on ever since LCD convertor boards came onto the scene, and I’m sure that won’t be resolved anytime soon, so if any are interested in continuing that, we’ll leave it for the comments.
When looking at modern solutions to replace a CRT with, the options boil down to either purchasing a retail monitor that was designed for home desktop use, or buying what is called an open-frame monitor. Open-frames have a metal bezel with pre-drilled holes on the outside that allows the monitor to be mounted into something like an arcade cabinet, and it looks both clean and professional. It’s what every commercial-grade modern game uses. The problem with putting these into old cabinets that were originally designed for the tubes is two-fold 1) They can cost a good 2x-5x higher than a retail LCD 2) They aren’t often produced in 4:3 aspect ratio (but they do exist – the problem then comes back to the cost issue; but also many of these are made for old gambling/video slot machines, not specifically arcade games). With retail-bought LCDs, it’s difficult to find them in 4:3 models, but then installing them usually looks shoddy and amatuerish.
I first encountered Arcooda way back in 2016 then they came to IAAPA with their virtual pinball machine and other cabinet designs. They’ve been in business for around 30 years, but being based out of Australia, it is more common to come across their product in that region of the world than it has been in the US.
This past week, Arcooda tweeted out that they were going to launch a new line of “arcade ready” open-frame 4:3 LCD monitors with more details to come. Today, they unveiled that and a 32″ HD drop-in monitor with two product pages. More details per Arcooda:
All monitors are specifically designed for arcade, and will include metal frame, mounting brackets, separate monitor control board, VGA/HDMI inputs. Depending on the model we will also include low resolution inputs such as 15khz, as well as higher end gaming products up to 4K. The 20inch monitor we have been manufacturing for around 4+ years and has been stable for our lowboy style products such as the earlier Mercury cabinets.
The page for all of their available models is found here.
The cost on these is a bit lower than what I’ve found elsewhere in the US, and they’re made to go straight into a coin-op cabinet. Usually, when you convert, you need to purchase a signal convertor board (an extra cost of $40-$60). With Arcooda, they also have a simple VGA-to-JAMMA adapter for the VGA input for handling the physical connections; the convertor hardware itself, which handles the 15KHz signal is built into the monitor (aka, most JAMMA era games will work with it, but there are exceptions. Some games like some of Midway’s 90s era games used an odd signal that takes some rigging to work right – even then it’s imperfect). Resolution runs as low as 640×480, but it can handle HD resolutions and has an HDMI port. The HD resolution also means that you could run an exA-Arcadia title on one, as those games do support 4:3 mode.
At the moment, this and the 32″ widescreen model are available, with Arcooda looking for distributors to handle more sales overseas. They will also be launching two additional models in the coming weeks, presumably at different sizes (it’d be great if they could cover more of the bases on sizes since you had everything from 13″-39″ CRTs BITD).
What do you think about this addition to the market?
Any word on whether or not these will be available for retro enthusiasts to purchase or will they only be for sale to those who are in the industry? Also do you know if the 15khz modes will have any kind of smart type of picture settings to imitate scanlines, tv line count or will it require something like a proper scaler to input those features yourself?
I think the last ones were by Makvision and they didn’t do hardly anything but add a bilinear filter or something similar.
Retro enthusiasts should be able to purchase these as well as ops, unless for some reason one of their distributors refuses (doubt that they would). I’ve asked about scanline features, but none of that was mentioned on the product page, so I’d lean towards no special picture settings, but I’ll update once I get a reply.
One problem remains.
There still are no monitors available in 4:3 in the really common sizes between 25″ to 29″ from the final 20 years that CRTs were common in arcade games.
Lots of machines from the 1990s have 25″ monitors. Or all the iconic Sega racers like Super GT or Daytona with their 29″ screens. Always looks like shit when they were converted to 16:9 LCDs.
The really big 4:3 monitors like that 40″ or the rather common 50″ (SDLX versions of Sega cabinets) could probably be replaced with a short distance beamer and some creative tinkering.
Short distance beamers have made incredible progress during the last 2 years regarding picture quality.
Arcooda did reply saying that they do plan on producing more monitors in 4:3 size, however, pandemic-induced production problems are preventing them from offering a wider selection at this exact time.
Just hang tight, they’ll have more, just hopefully sooner rather than later.
Now if they only could manufacture a curved, round imitation of a CRT glass screen with LCD technology wouldn’t it be wonderful?