Analogue in a digital world

So, after all of the power issues, we can now focus on what it takes to be able to connect the console to the TV, and this is where it gets really interesting. The Megadrive/Genesis runs on analogue signals, as we have established previously – and my more modern LG OLED (C7) does not have any of the older inputs, meaning that there will need to be some conversion. This is where things get even more complicated.

My initial thought was that I could just buy a cheap passive converter to convert the analogue signal to a digital one (i.e SCART to HDMI), however after doing some research on the matter there are a number of negative reports on why this is not the best solution. You can find a more detailed guide on why this is not the best solution in an article here. The TL:DR is that converters do not do a good job with input lag (delays are no fun when playing games where timing is everything) and also the resolution of the upscale image being cropped badly for the TV and cutting off some significant parts of the picture.

You see in the world of 1080P being HD and 4K being Ultra HD and then 8K being even better – there is no need for modern TV’s to support older resolutions. In the days of the Megadrive you were getting significantly smaller resolutions – in fact ,the best possible resolution that could be obtained by this generation of consoles, and this was the case until a couple of console generations later, was 240p.

240p does not sound like much when you consider the resolutions that are now the norm, when you compare this to the signal that you got from plugging your console into the RF Switch that comes with the console as default you can see a big difference. There are plenty of videos available if you want to see the differences including plugging in the cable by component (which is the best, but most expensive way of doing it).

The old classic Sega RF Switch which I had mastered the blind switching of many years before

Right now my challenge is to get the console plugged into the TV. Now, it seems after extensive research, if you want that true retro experience on your modern HD Television, then you need something called a scan converter – and this should have low latiency and convert scan lines to upscale them for modern displays. To quote Kotaku “The scalers in most HDTVs are not correctly optimized for 240p signals, which end up reading the signal as interlaced. This creates a smeary, ugly image.” 

The difference between a good and a bad conversion – credit Kotaku

There are two main contenders for those who wish to take this seriously – the Framemeister (which is now pretty old) which does from all accounts a great job, but weighs in at ~€350 plus any shipping costs and import duties. It has a great number of connectors and also does a good job of converting the signal for modern TV’s.

The Framemeister XRGB-Mini – credit Solaris Japan

The new kid on the block is the OSSC (Open Source Scan Converter) which was born from the homebrew scene and is fully updatable. The main differences between the two are mostly around the inputs (the OSSC only has Scart, VGA and Composite) and the price (the OSSC is available for around €135 (link here) including the remote, PSU and the remote overlay. Whilst I am committed to the project – the price difference is what swung it for me and I opted for the OSSC. In tests, the OSSC has been said to perform better in terms of the number of colours it can display along with the lag speeds. To be honest, I am not sure that I would notice the difference!

The OSSC – sexy it aint

So, my wallet lighter still with this project, we now wait for another delivery!

Keep playing!

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