<-- -!>

Featured Article

Showing posts with label Gekko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gekko. Show all posts

DCHDMI Versus 480p 'HD' Dreamcast Cables

As I'm sure you're aware by now, there are a range of 'HD' options now available for the Dreamcast. What it's important to note though, is that all of these so-called HD cables are not actually delivering a true high definition image. Yes, they use a HDMI connector that plugs into your display, but this image is 480p and is being drawn directly from the analogue VGA output of the Dreamcast. Regardless of what you've probably seen or read on some other websites, the various HD cables from Pound, Hyperkin, Beharbros etc., are not magically transforming Dreamcast games into high definition experiences. That's impossible.
Now, that's not to say that any of the devices from the aforementioned brands aren't worth your time. They totally are, with both the Pound and Beharbros options being perfectly acceptable ways of connecting a Dreamcast to a HD flat panel display with the minimum of fuss. The thing is, while the games still look fine using these cables and boxes, there is an alternative device that really does improve image quality immeasurably without the need for an external upscaler. That device is the internal DCHDMI mod from citrus3000psi and chriz2600; and we reviewed it recently here at The Dreamcast Junkyard.

One of the most important benefits over the 480p cables though, is that the DCHDMI is putting out the correct screen aspect ratio. See, the VGA signal the cables use only uses the inner 640x480 of the 720x480 frame. So the TV displays the the whole 720x480 in a 4:3 format. This basically squashes the entire image. All of the VGA to HDMI cables have this porblem, but the DCHDMI doesn't do this. There are both VGA and 480p options built in to the DCHDMI menu, and the 720p option because some homebrew titles use the extra 80 pixels.
What I've seen from some commenters though, is a desire to actually see some kind of comparison between what the 480p 'HD' cables offer, and what the DCHDMI in 1080p mode (960p windowed) is kicking out. The DCHDMI, it's worth noting again, is an internal board that also packs an FPGA and which is wired directly into the GPU of the Dreamcast. It's taking the digital image directly, and there is no analogue conversion, so naturally it will be doing things the HD Link and Gekko or Akura are not built to do. That's not the point of this article and video though. This is simply a comparison...and seeing is believing. Here you go:


It's probably worth viewing the video in the highest quality available to get the full effect, but the superiority of the internal mod is pretty clear. Naturally, the DCHDMI will be more of a faff (and markedly more expensive) than just plugging a cable in to your console, but it's good to know that the options are available.

You can pre-order the DCHDMI here, should you so desire. The Beharbros Gekko is available here, and the Pound HD Link is available here.

Related articles:

Hardware Review: Beharbros Gekko HDMI Box For Dreamcast

Gekko is the latest device from self-styled artisanal retro-modders Beharbros. It takes the baton from the earlier Akura and delivers a simple method for connecting a Dreamcast to a modern HD television. Featuring the hallmark high build quality and hand-made aesthetic of the rest of the Beharbros product lineup, the Gekko represents a more pocket-friendly solution that offers similar functionality at a budget price point.
The BBS Akura (left) and Gekko (right)
In terms of form factor, the Gekko is very similar to the earlier Akura HDMI adapter, but has several features stripped out, meaning that this is a pretty painless device to set up. As with all of the boxes and cables  in this category (see our reviews of both the BBS Akura and Pound HD Link), the Gekko simply takes the VGA output signal from the Dreamcast and converts it so that it can be fed through a standard HDMI connection and into your television or monitor.


As with the aforementioned devices, there is no upscaling; the VGA 480p picture is simply passed through the internal gubbins and projected onto your screen, and if you're using a huge 4K television, the image quality will be much worse than on a 22" HD television. If you really want to get the full benefits of a device like the Gekko (or any of the others on the market), then a dedicated upscaler is what you'll need. But then, this type of device probably isn't aimed at the gamers who inhabit that end of the spectrum. If you own a Framemeister, OSSC or other similar device, then you'll likely not need something like the Gekko as your current awesome set up probably won't really benefit from the inclusion of a VGA to HDMI pass through device.
That point aside, if you are in the market for something that will allow you to connect your Dreamcast to a modern flat screen display, then the Gekko could be right up your street; and not least because it offers an interesting extra function not seen in the recently released Pound HD Link. First though, let's take a look at the physical design of the Gekko...