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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Default Do you think retro upscalers are worth it?

    So a few weeks back, I mentioned my CRT television dying.

    Recently, I notice that when I play video games... something tends to look weird to me. I'm not sure what it is. To be fair this isn't even just old games either... I may just be having adaptation issues.

    Still, part of me has been curious about upscalers, and I've watched a few videos, such as Avalanche Reviews' great overview of all the upscalers that were on the market at the time of his video... link to video BTW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGuq4mJhyYY

    Game Sack also did a decent video about upscalers.

    Here's the thing though.

    So what I did for myself was, I compared some NES and SNES games I owned, running through composite, to how they look when played on the Nintendo Switch. I don't know how good this comparison is since the Switch is using an emulator, but I assume this is what an upscaled image would look like.

    And it's like.. I DO see the difference, but its way more obvious in SNES games... and even then, only if I was just looking at one version before switching to the other one.

    And on top of that, I wonder if upscaling will even fix the weird personal cognitive issues I've been having which are hard to describe.

    I do know though that right now it seems like prices of $200 are a bit too much for what will be minimal improvements at best.

    What do you think?

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    Unless you have a crt still then no but if all you have is hdtv's then scalers are worth it.The most recent one being the retrotinx 5x.

    Yeah it's $300.00 but cheaper then a framemister.All i have is just a retrotinx pro but it get's the job done maybe in the future a 5x for me.

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    Ive owned a Framemeister for about seven years. If I could do it over again, I wouldn't have bought it. The latency is tolerable but I notice it. The switching between 240p and 480i is delayed, as is the startup. And the screen size adjustments seem to disrupt other attributes of the picture. You also have to have the remote aimed directly at it to register. And no RF inputs. And 2 player mode in Sonic the Hedgehot 2 is a garbled mess.

    I strongly recommend getting a CRT off Craigslist for free, one that has RF, composite, and S video. The upscalers were a great solution before FPGA clones became widely available, as well as RetroVision cables, but in 2021 I would just tell you that with an upscaler, you're probably going to be disappointed.
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    I find two "issues" with composite sources on a modern HDTV. One is the muddiness, which is difficult to resolve without an expensive upscaler. The 2nd is the color depth, which you lose quite a bit of with composite even on a CRT. However, that cannot be fixed with an upscaler, only by pulling an RGB source out of the consoles themselves. Which again, requires more of an investment. If I were you, you might just be satisfied using a RetroTink 2X (Pro or Mini), which converts your composite into HDMI.

    https://www.retrotink.com/post/intro...o-multi-format
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    I find two "issues" with composite sources on a modern HDTV. One is the muddiness, which is difficult to resolve without an expensive upscaler. The 2nd is the color depth, which you lose quite a bit of with composite even on a CRT. However, that cannot be fixed with an upscaler, only by pulling an RGB source out of the consoles themselves. Which again, requires more of an investment. If I were you, you might just be satisfied using a RetroTink 2X (Pro or Mini), which converts your composite into HDMI.

    https://www.retrotink.com/post/intro...o-multi-format
    The argument for RF (or composite) to CRT is that it is the most true to the original intent of the game's artists, since the developers knew that gamers would be playing with RF cables connected to 20" console televisions.

    I like to have the best of both worlds. The old TVs with RF input has its charm and there's no better way to step into a "time machine" than firing up a consumer grade CRT with mono sound and most of the overscan missing.

    But sometimes when I just want the game to look good and I want to be able to differentiate one sprite from the next, then yeah, I will use an upconverter But generally speaking, I find the 8 bit graphics to be hard on the eyes on my 55". scanlines helps somewhat, but still
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    The argument for RF (or composite) to CRT is that it is the most true to the original intent of the game's artists, since the developers knew that gamers would be playing with RF cables connected to 20" console televisions.

    I like to have the best of both worlds. The old TVs with RF input has its charm and there's no better way to step into a "time machine" than firing up a consumer grade CRT with mono sound and most of the overscan missing.

    But sometimes when I just want the game to look good and I want to be able to differentiate one sprite from the next, then yeah, I will use an upconverter But generally speaking, I find the 8 bit graphics to be hard on the eyes on my 55". scanlines helps somewhat, but still
    Well yes, the best choice is to have a CRT; however Mr. Dantes seemed resigned to eliminating his. Some just no longer have the room for them. That being said, I gave up on running RF ages ago, simply because of the signal noise. Converted those systems to composite, while upgrading most all of my composite systems to component. I still would agree though that on a CRT, the 8, 16, even 32/64 bit systems are fine with composite or S-video.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    My nearest town doesn't have a Goodwill, but there are some like 30min-1hr away that do, and I'm hoping to make a trip up there soon.
    Not sure if it's a per store basis, or a blanket corporate policy, but the last few Goodwill stores I were in had a sign up saying they no longer accepted donated CRTs of any type.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    I would go with the pure emulation route if you're going to be displaying them on a modern TV anyway, and you can still emulate CD games using images as well.
    Speaking as someone who still owns multiple CRTs and tons of original hardware.... if you're going for a modern TV just emulate. Never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth but at this point there's very few compelling reasons not to compared to an avalanche of reasons for it. Even if you drop a few bucks on converters so you can use OEM controllers (which is important to me, anyway), you could still get a very good, low hassle, quick setup emulation box that's good enough for anything PS1 and older.

    I'm not hosting Evo 2021 at my house, nor am I going for some Punch Out speed run record or Billy Mitchell-style shmup superplay. Machine-level FPGA emulation isn't a necessity for me to play a few rounds of Street Fighter II or some z-grade SNES beat 'em up.

    I know there's skilled hardcore savants that can pick out the slightest bit of millisecond input latency or display lag, and God bless 'em, but that's a level of accuracy I personally don't need. Even that is an issue that can be solved as long as you're willing to invest the money in better hardware.

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    Has anyone tried the RetroVision component cables for SNES? I am curious about input lag, aspect ratio.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Has anyone tried the RetroVision component cables for SNES? I am curious about input lag, aspect ratio.
    I have them on my CRT setup, they are second to none with quality. Don't recall anyone complaining of lag with them.
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    I actually am totally fine with RF only TVs. I have so many VCRs for my video transfer hobby anyway that I can always pass composite thru them and run RF to the TV. I even have a couple SVHS players which have S-Video jacks. You might not think an RF only TV can really display the difference, but it does clean up the video signal some. I try to only use the SVHS player when I'm doing videos for my older bandmates though. Archiving stuff they recorded on Hi-8s for that format so they could sync to DATs. I don't want to waste these machines' lifespan on plain VHS material where most people won't know the difference.
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    I tend to prefer CRTs. I own SEVEN now....for PC and console, and all of them work. I paid no money for any of them, they were all free. Three TVs, 4 Monitors. The monitors are for my PCs, the TVs are swapped around, and one TV is a B&W portable from 1987 - 5" of course. Some of them I had to fix (weak tubes, cold solder joints, cracked PCBs, bugs living inside, etc.). Also, as one who owns three 4K TV's, some of which have so much DSP Gaming mode makes playing old games from the CRT age feel like you're trying to

    What I prefer for input depends on the console...

    ATARI 2600 - RF straight into COAX via one of those 75 Ohm COAX to RCA adapters
    NES - Composite with a stereo-splitter offf the NES into the 3 connector cable so on a Stereo TV it comes out of both speakers (consistent volume)
    WII - Composite of course

    I have a profound hatred of modern TVs for not just gaming, but just about everything. 4K Smart TV's make me want to Rage quit sometimes trying to access a basic YouTube video. I'm a damn good I.T. guy but I have my limits, and closed source O/Ses designed to run heavily on-rails software for watching basic videos, run through a barriage of custom Digital Signal Processing (DSP) - hence lag with anything "analog", drives me nuts. Our Samsung is slower than a 286 running Windows, even clearing the Cache, mTCP suite on a 512K XT finds an IP Address faster than it's WiFi does. Our TCL I've only put the Wii on because the $300 Sharp has so much input lag, even in game mode, anything on it is almost unplayable. The Sharp has my RetroPie....which is a big reason I've been moving away from Emulation....

    RetroPie is fun if you're a tweaker, or a tuner IMHO. I enjoy it more when I'm in the mood to tweak and tune plaintext settings in most cases, it's saving grace is MAME, but I could literally do that in DOS on my CRT TV if I wanted to using one of my many vintage PCs. But trying to play 2 player games with the wife is an extercise in frustration. Either a key combo no longer works, or the controllers change players if I have to reboot, or the input lag is so bad we can't play as good as we do on actual hardware on my old TVs, or even the Wii. The Wii is my favorite source of emulation TBH.

    Plus, to me, I grew up with this stuff on 13-27" CRT Televisoins and monitors. Nothing takes me back as much as playing video games on an old TV on an actual game console from the past, as the designers intended.

    On the subject of RF, my Magnavox TV is RF only, as is my Rhapsody 5" B&W. I don't mind RF either, I swapped though because my Mitsubishi 27" has a cool feature that my old 19" 1984 Mitsubishi Console had - a passthrough that allows me top record ANY input to a computer easily using a Composite USB capture device. Atari 2600, yep, NES, youbetcha, Tandy 1000, yep, Wii, yeah, that too. It's nice to be able to record the TV, and not have to spend extended amounts of time shuffling cables around or dealing with lag to capture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-Mike View Post
    I tend to prefer CRTs. I own SEVEN now....for PC and console, and all of them work. I paid no money for any of them, they were all free. Three TVs, 4 Monitors. The monitors are for my PCs, the TVs are swapped around, and one TV is a B&W portable from 1987 - 5" of course. Some of them I had to fix (weak tubes, cold solder joints, cracked PCBs, bugs living inside, etc.). Also, as one who owns three 4K TV's, some of which have so much DSP Gaming mode makes playing old games from the CRT age feel like you're trying to

    What I prefer for input depends on the console...

    ATARI 2600 - RF straight into COAX via one of those 75 Ohm COAX to RCA adapters
    NES - Composite with a stereo-splitter offf the NES into the 3 connector cable so on a Stereo TV it comes out of both speakers (consistent volume)
    WII - Composite of course

    I have a profound hatred of modern TVs for not just gaming, but just about everything. 4K Smart TV's make me want to Rage quit sometimes trying to access a basic YouTube video. I'm a damn good I.T. guy but I have my limits, and closed source O/Ses designed to run heavily on-rails software for watching basic videos, run through a barriage of custom Digital Signal Processing (DSP) - hence lag with anything "analog", drives me nuts. Our Samsung is slower than a 286 running Windows, even clearing the Cache, mTCP suite on a 512K XT finds an IP Address faster than it's WiFi does. Our TCL I've only put the Wii on because the $300 Sharp has so much input lag, even in game mode, anything on it is almost unplayable. The Sharp has my RetroPie....which is a big reason I've been moving away from Emulation....

    RetroPie is fun if you're a tweaker, or a tuner IMHO. I enjoy it more when I'm in the mood to tweak and tune plaintext settings in most cases, it's saving grace is MAME, but I could literally do that in DOS on my CRT TV if I wanted to using one of my many vintage PCs. But trying to play 2 player games with the wife is an extercise in frustration. Either a key combo no longer works, or the controllers change players if I have to reboot, or the input lag is so bad we can't play as good as we do on actual hardware on my old TVs, or even the Wii. The Wii is my favorite source of emulation TBH.

    Plus, to me, I grew up with this stuff on 13-27" CRT Televisoins and monitors. Nothing takes me back as much as playing video games on an old TV on an actual game console from the past, as the designers intended.

    On the subject of RF, my Magnavox TV is RF only, as is my Rhapsody 5" B&W. I don't mind RF either, I swapped though because my Mitsubishi 27" has a cool feature that my old 19" 1984 Mitsubishi Console had - a passthrough that allows me top record ANY input to a computer easily using a Composite USB capture device. Atari 2600, yep, NES, youbetcha, Tandy 1000, yep, Wii, yeah, that too. It's nice to be able to record the TV, and not have to spend extended amounts of time shuffling cables around or dealing with lag to capture.
    Have you ever played on a PVM? I've found that to be the best way to play old consoles because the picture quality ia vastly greater than consumer grade sets, the inputs have most of what you need, and it still gives me that feeling of "nostalgia" of playing on a 30 year old monitor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-Mike View Post
    I have a profound hatred of modern TVs for not just gaming, but just about everything. 4K Smart TV's make me want to Rage quit sometimes trying to access a basic YouTube video. I'm a damn good I.T. guy but I have my limits, and closed source O/Ses designed to run heavily on-rails software for watching basic videos, run through a barriage of custom Digital Signal Processing (DSP) - hence lag with anything "analog", drives me nuts. Our Samsung is slower than a 286 running Windows, even clearing the Cache, mTCP suite on a 512K XT finds an IP Address faster than it's WiFi does. Our TCL I've only put the Wii on because the $300 Sharp has so much input lag, even in game mode, anything on it is almost unplayable. The Sharp has my RetroPie....which is a big reason I've been moving away from Emulation....
    You're probably correct on the smart TV situation, which is why there's never been more interest/development in upscaling devices. OSSC standard remains cheaper and popular, with the Pro still being developed to great fanfare. The RetroTink 5x Pro keeps selling out, and the PixelFX Morph device will too when it's released.
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    My Framemeister finally died. After 7 years, I just get a garbled pink screen now. I guess these days 7 years is decent for a piece of electronics but having paid a lot for this when it came out and with no moving parts on it, I figured it would've outlived me.

    so now it's down to the OSSC or the Retrotink
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    My Framemeister finally died. After 7 years, I just get a garbled pink screen now. I guess these days 7 years is decent for a piece of electronics but having paid a lot for this when it came out and with no moving parts on it, I figured it would've outlived me.

    so now it's down to the OSSC or the Retrotink
    Sure it's not a bad ac adapter?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Az View Post
    or Billy Mitchell-style shmup superplay.
    So, you're not planning to cheat?

    Thing I have against going full emulation (not that I haven't considered it) is three things.

    The first is, currently I have a laptop that like you guys said, can handle anything up to the PS1... but even then there's stuff like how some roms seem to only work with certain emulators and I know stuff like bSNES apparently requires hefty power.

    Secondly, and kinda related to that... if a ROM file ever doesn't work in an emulator, it can be a lot of different factors--the ROM could be corrupt, or the game might just not like a certain emulator, or maybe even my comp just was feeling like a jerk that day.

    Continuing that last point, if something goes wrong it can be a pain to diagnose. For example I once had an experience in an old version of MAME, decades ago, where in one game anytime I pressed a button it would make both player characters act... as I was trying to play co-op with a friend at the time, that was kind of annoying, and we tried re-configuring the controls and even deleting the config altogether to force the program to spawn a fresh one... we never did find out what the hell that was about.

    On a physical console, on the other hand, if a controller doesn't do what its supposed to, you know the controller is broken, and if multiple controllers don't do what they're supposed to, you can guess its the console itself.

    This leads to my third issue with pure emulation.... I don't always game alone. I sometimes have friends over. Recently its often my niece and nephew.

    On a real console, if I wanna play Contra III with my nephew, I just turn the game on and hand him a controller.

    On an emulator, I load the ROM, hope it works, set up the buttons for both controllers, then I have to test to make sure I didn't screw anything up, and then hope there aren't any random hardware issues, and possibly I might have to include a list of what-not-to-do to prevent known temperamental issues....

    Yeah, I would rather have the convenience, especially if I have to deal with little kids who might not understand all the technical jiggery-pokery I'm doing.

    And I haven't given up on getting a replacement CRT, I just haven't had any luck finding one yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    So, you're not planning to cheat?

    Thing I have against going full emulation (not that I haven't considered it) is three things.

    The first is, currently I have a laptop that like you guys said, can handle anything up to the PS1... but even then there's stuff like how some roms seem to only work with certain emulators and I know stuff like bSNES apparently requires hefty power.

    Secondly, and kinda related to that... if a ROM file ever doesn't work in an emulator, it can be a lot of different factors--the ROM could be corrupt, or the game might just not like a certain emulator, or maybe even my comp just was feeling like a jerk that day.

    Continuing that last point, if something goes wrong it can be a pain to diagnose. For example I once had an experience in an old version of MAME, decades ago, where in one game anytime I pressed a button it would make both player characters act... as I was trying to play co-op with a friend at the time, that was kind of annoying, and we tried re-configuring the controls and even deleting the config altogether to force the program to spawn a fresh one... we never did find out what the hell that was about.

    On a physical console, on the other hand, if a controller doesn't do what its supposed to, you know the controller is broken, and if multiple controllers don't do what they're supposed to, you can guess its the console itself.

    This leads to my third issue with pure emulation.... I don't always game alone. I sometimes have friends over. Recently its often my niece and nephew.

    On a real console, if I wanna play Contra III with my nephew, I just turn the game on and hand him a controller.

    On an emulator, I load the ROM, hope it works, set up the buttons for both controllers, then I have to test to make sure I didn't screw anything up, and then hope there aren't any random hardware issues, and possibly I might have to include a list of what-not-to-do to prevent known temperamental issues....

    Yeah, I would rather have the convenience, especially if I have to deal with little kids who might not understand all the technical jiggery-pokery I'm doing.

    And I haven't given up on getting a replacement CRT, I just haven't had any luck finding one yet.
    Ive thought about hoarding CRTs, I just dont have the space for it. I have 3 of them right now, and mostly have them just because the particular models are somewhat rare. I knew a guy who would hang out outside Best Buy waiting for a customer to bring one in and he would ask them if he could take it off their hands
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    On a real console, if I wanna play Contra III with my nephew, I just turn the game on and hand him a controller.
    There's definitely something to be said for a setup to be idiot-proof (not meaning that in a derogatory way).

    I have some cabs and a virtual pin setup, and a few of the cabs are running MAME or some other multi-game setup. For those I always have to explain to people to not hit certain buttons or button combinations or else the game will exit to the menu, and you can bet your sweet ass it will still happen every time.

    If you were interested in going the emulation route there's some easy ways to overcome the hurdles you mentioned though.

    Do you own either NES or SNES classic system? Those can be easily upgraded to accept additional ROMs while still retaining the ultra-simple original frontend. I have the NES Classic and run NES, SMS, and TG-16 games on it without issues. I use just those systems due to the controller being 2 buttons.

    Raspberry Pi's or other similar mini-computer setups can easily run a preconfigured image where you don't have to deal with an operating system, and the whole thing can be navigated with a controller. They're fairly simple to get setup, and once you've got it the way you like you never have to fool with it again. For less than $50 they're worth having around even if you don't use it much. A modded Wii or original Xbox works well also.

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