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Hardware Review: Pound Technology HD Link - Dreamcast

In the recent past we've seen a number of solutions come to market that allow Dreamcast gamers to use a contemporary HDMI-enabled display. The most high profile of these is arguably the superb Akura from Bebarbros; but for many the high price of said artisanal display adapter is prohibitive (the upcoming Gekko may put paid to that, though). Enter Pound Technology, a California based firm specialising in new display cables for retro systems.

The latest release from Pound is the HD Link - Dreamcast, and while the name is a little misleading (it isn't a system link cable, and it doesn't magically make Dreamcast games 'HD'), there's little to fault with the unit's design, operation...or price. As stated, one of the major complaints with Beharbros' Akura was that it cost upwards of $80 (or $200 if you look at scalper prices on eBay). Granted, the Akura is way more than a signal pass-through cable, as it offers features such as a scanline generator amongst others. The HD Link - Dreamcast is very bare bones in comparison to the Akura, but this isn't a bad thing. Far from it, as the simplicity of the cable's design and singular feature set make it affordable and less likely to fail after prolonged use.
The HD Link - Dreamcast is a professionally manufactured cable that slots into the A/V aperture on the rear of the Dreamcast and which acts like a VGA cable. The VGA signal travels along the cable, to the box in the middle, which then converts it to output via a HMDI connection. It's as simple as that. There is no upscaling here - the signal is the native 480p VGA image from the Dreamcast which is in turn spat out onto your display. If you're using a HD TV that's bigger than say 22" then the image - while decent - will be blown up and may look a little pixelated. However, with many modern TVs unable to even accept a composite or SCART connection, something like the HD Link - Dreamcast is a perfect solution.

Due to the fact that the cable is basically taking and using the VGA signal, there is the issue of non-VGA games being incompatible and that's a small negative, but for the price of $29.99 the quality and usefulness of this cable cannot be denied. Furthermore, for those of us who require the ability to be able to record gameplay footage or take screens using a capture device, the HD Link - Dreamcast is an affordable solution that negates the need for an upscaler or a Frankenstein's monster of cables and boxes. Whether the HD Link - Dreamcast will work with an Elgato remains to be seen (the Akura doesn't), however the HD Link - Dreamcast is fully compatible with the Aver Media ExtremeCap U3, and the results can be seen in the video above and screen grabs below.
Regardless of the game...
...the HD Link - Dreamcast...
...feeds a great image for capturing screens or video (as long as it's VGA compatible!)
Build quality is decent and the HD Link - Dreamcast feels premium; the plastic casing around the box in the middle of the cable is perfectly serviceable and a little green LED lets you know when the magic is happening. The length of the cable is also impressive, with 6.6ft of nicely insulated wire separating the Dreamcast from your chosen display. Even the cardboard box it comes in, along with a little 'thank you' card is very professionally done - Pound Technology should be commended for not only creating this easy to use and robust unit, but also for going the extra mile in terms of packaging and premium finish.

A 4K television adds a certain filter type effect
A 22" HD television allows for a cleaner image
Naturally, this device won't be for everyone. If you prefer to play on a CRT with an RGB SCART connection, or on a proper VGA PC monitor, then you have no need for the HD Link - Dreamcast. However, if you don't have access to hulking great CRT displays and only have the one flat screen display, then for $30 you can't go wrong. As stated, if you're using a larger display (or a massive 4K TV like I do), then the picture quality will degrade the bigger you go without using an upscaler like a Framemeister; but if you're on a smaller display and aren't fussed about everything being super sharp, then the image quality is favourable and the ease of use is undeniable. Of course, work continues apace on a true Dreamcast 1080p upscaler mod, but that's another story...

For more information, visit the Pound Technology website or the Amazon listing here.
What do you think? Will you be buying one of these cables? or will you be waiting for the upcoming Gekko from Beharbros? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

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Special thanks to Rene and Eddy at VV DC Collectiv for purchasing and shipping this to the UK for me prior to Amazon's international shipping option going live. This cable was not supplied by the manufacturer, it was bought with my own money (disclosure, innit).


hoogafanter said...

Might grab one, don't need it yet tho...

CD ageS said...

Glad to see the HD link cable arrived to you safe and sound. Personally i think the cable is great. Its just super convenient and well built, at a reasonable price. I really like using mine on my PS4 Hori HD portable monitor on the go :)

DDT said...

I have preordered Gekko instead. You get top quality video/audio from Beharbros products. Honestly everything I have seen from this Pound cable is much worse than what you get from a cheap VGA cable on eBay, which means it's somehow distorting the VGA signal (probably a real crappy converter chip).

hoogafanter said...

Hmmm... I'd have to test it to verify. Not Konami won't get away with this!