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Showing posts with label HD Link - Dreamcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HD Link - Dreamcast. 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: 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.

Pound Technology Releases New Dreamcast HDMI Cable (Updated)

The Dreamcast famously supports many different types of display cable (check out our guide here), and the ability to spit out a VGA signal has afforded contemporary hardware developers the opportunity to adapt the Dreamcast's aging internal guts to work with the latest display technology.


While the Dreamcast will always be best matched with a decent CRT television through RGB SCART or a VGA computer monitor via a suitable cable or box, the fact of the matter is that not everyone has the space for a hulking great cathode ray powered television or monitor, and so flat panel monitors are the only option. With this in mind, Pound Technology is the latest hardware manufacturer to take advantage of the Dreamcast's VGA option and have recently released the 'HD Link - Dreamcast.'
Following in the footsteps of outfits like Beharbros (check out our review of the AKURA HDMI box here), Pound Technology have created a fairly robust looking pass-through cable that takes the VGA signal from the Dreamcast and projects it through a HDMI cable onto the screen of any compatible monitor or TV set. Unlike the AKURA, the HD Link - Dreamcast doesn't offer any additional display modes or a scanline generator, but it does trump the AKURA in terms of cost, weighing in at just $29.99 at the time of writing.
The only negative we can see so far is that the HD Link - Dreamcast is currently only available in the United States due to Amazon's rules on new products passing internal review for international shipping. Rest assured that as soon as Amazon have approved the cable, we'll be putting it up against the AKURA to see how it fares. Update: Amazon is now shipping worldwide.


For more information visit the Pound Technology website here.