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Author Topic: Retrotink 2X  (Read 829 times)

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KenToad

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Retrotink 2X
« on: January 11, 2019, 11:35:50 am »
Just wanted to share my thoughts on the Retrotink 2X.

It's an alternative to your flatscreen's built in upscaler or $20 external upscalers that add a lot of lag by over-processing the image from standard resolution sources. It also doesn't add lag like the OSSC and Framemeister.

The Retrotink accepts component, S-video, and composite, and has a fast onboard chip that simply doubles the line output (hence 2X) from 240p (also 480i, with caveats, seen below) sources to 480p while converting to a digital HDMI signal, basically ensuring that most HD televisions won't further process the resulting image.

For me, it reduced input lag to the point where it's almost as responsive as playing on a CRT. I was able to test this directly with my LCD modded NES lightgun ROMS. For those not sensitive to input lag, this may not be an overtly beneficial feature.

Apparently, for image quality, the Retrotink shines brightest with component cables. I'm using composite cables exclusively through an 8 port switcher. I have noticed an improvement in both sharpness and contrast across 240p consoles, particularly with my N64, which looked like hot garbage through the composite inputs on my 1080p TV.

I suppose in the future I could pick up some component cables for my SNES, Genesis, and maybe even N64 (HD Retrovision perhaps?), but I doubt I'll RGB mod my NES. This is a particularly big deal for me because my TV doesn't accept a 240p signal over component, so the Retrotink 2X should enable using aftermarket component cables, which is cool.

So far, I absolutely love this thing and it was worth the money, even if I never invest in component or S-video options.

Some minor issues:

The Retrotink uses a mini HDMI. For most people, you're going to have to buy an adaptor or a cable that goes from mini to standard sized HDMI.

No power supply included (microUSB).

It boots up into component mode with 2X scaling every time. Since I'm using composite, I'll need to keep the Retrotink running 24/7 or face having to press the inconveniently-placed mode button twice every time I want to play an old console. I was hoping to be able to plug the micro USB into my TV port, but that makes the Retrotink shut down every time I turn off the TV. That means that my 7-year-old son won't be able to play Super Nintendo without help.

Similarly, using multiple sources, such as S-video and component, will force users to find and press the little inconvenient button frequently. Some kind of input detection software would have been amazing, but this thing isn't meant to be loaded with features. It also is recommended not to have multiple powered devices plugged into the different inputs on the Retrotink at the same time.

With 480i sources, such as PS2 or Gamecube, picture quality might be worse through the Retrotink than through your HD TV's standard inputs (de-interlace may cause flicker, combing), although you should still have less input lag. *Edit* I have a PS2 hooked up to the Retrotink using composite cables and haven't noticed any glaring issues yet.

Finally, the unit is a little on the pricey side for what it's doing (about $108 shipped). However, it is one guy who developed this ingenious device for an extremely niche market, so I can understand that he's not getting any kind of volume discount.

It's also a bit dicey ordering one of these. Resellers like Castlemania sell out quickly. I ordered directly from Mike Chi, the creator, at the Retrotink website. The website doesn't give you a reliable time frame for delivery after ordering. Basically, you get a receipt from PayPal and then it's just radio silence until you get a shipping notification. You can follow him on Twitter, but he doesn't talk much about shipping stuff out or inventory. He shipped from San Diego and used the USPS with tracking. It took nearly 2 weeks from ordering for me to have the product in hand.

*Edit* I forgot to mention that I have noticed crackling audio from certain sound effects on the N64 (rolling boulders in Hazy Maze Mario 64). It's been a minor distraction so far. I'll keep testing, though.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 04:19:08 pm by KenToad »

Howard_Casto

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 03:01:18 pm »
What's holding me back is the apparent lack of rgb support.  I have scart cables for most of my systems to get their native rgb.  I just want that converted to 480p so these cheap-o hdmi adapters don't mangle the signal.  Surely there's a cost-effective solution for a situation like that. 

schmerzkaufen

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 03:11:01 pm »
Well the RetroTink 2 was designed for Component/S-Video/Composite to begin, and it's the best for that.

For RGB the OSSC is King.

I guess an all-in-one machine would be a significantly more complex design and would cost about the same as the two bundled...
GroovyMAME oddball LCD user: W7 64, viewsonic vx3211-mh, i5-4690k @4.1GHz, Rx 570, crt_emudriver 2.0b15

KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2019, 04:58:45 pm »
Yeah, the Scart thing is definitely out of Retrotink's wheelhouse. That's an even more specialized market, IMO. I'm pretty sure multi-console FPGA's like MisTer will step in to take the place of aging hardware and crap clone systems within the next 5-10 years, once the FPGA's become a bit more affordable. That will make devices like the OSSC, Framemeister, and Retrotink basically obsolete.

For now, the Retrotink makes my old systems as good or better than I remember them being in the 80's and 90's and that's more than enough for me.

KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2019, 11:55:53 am »
I had to redirect N64 audio to run straight into the soundbar. We were playing Mario 64 and the crackling was really bad inside the pyramid and basically anytime a thud type noise was made.

That's a pretty big flaw for a $100 dollar device. I haven't noticed audio issues with any of the other systems yet, but I'll keep testing.

KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 10:47:41 am »
The YouTube channel, My Life in Gaming, did an excellent video review of the Retrotink 2X. They do mention the audio issues, but only as a sort of minor nitpick. They clearly didn't play some of the levels that cause the most speaker crackling.

I went ahead and diverted all the audio straight into the sound bar, even though the other systems seemed to have good quality audio through the Retrotink.

chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 10:02:12 am »
Got a new tv in december (previous tv was 10yo and a piece of crap for gaming), ordered the 2X and have been testing it the last 4 days or so. I wasn't looking to play all my consoles this way, I just wanted it for the consoles that get complimented by the larger screen and make use of 16:9 support. I have PS1, PS2, N64, Dreamcast and GameCube all with s-video outs and they look fantastic on the 43". I'm not even using the line doubling, it's just being used as a pass through (both leds off) and the tv is set to direct input. I didn't realize the number of games on these systems that support widescreen. When in pass through the tv will auto resize 4:3 to 16:9 on the games that have it encoded. Then there are also the other games that will do the anamorphic widescreen from the options menu and then I'll switch input on tv to stretch.

Sound from my consoles was always sent to separate channels on my mixer and eq'd for gaming, so piping the audio through the tv isn't needed or desired on my setup. I did try the audio through 2X and yeah it is a tad over modulated.

I tried all my other systems (2600, intv, cv, nes, genesis / x32) that also have s-video out really quickly with the 2X and it just wasn't for me, those systems belong on my crt. For the newer generation stuff I'm really pleased with being able to play them on a big screen, especially some of the driving stuff.


good day.

KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2019, 01:10:54 am »
Cool!

Yeah, if I had space for a CRT I definitely would go that route. If I was you, I'd run the PS2 through the CRT, just for the awesome lightgun games.

chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 03:07:27 pm »
If I was you, I'd run the PS2 through the CRT, just for the awesome lightgun games.
Already do, got the cool jap guncon2, also have guns for dreamcast, nes and genesis.

Been cold here, was stuck in the house last couple days with lots o free time. Had a chance to learn about codebreakers and all the widescreen codes for the dreamcast games. So got that all set up with the gdemu. Way cool to play daytona usa in 16:9 and MVC2 looks killer. Also been finding all the settings in the ps2 games for 16:9, hell I didn't even know OPL had wide support, so that's cool. Lovin' me some 16:9 outrun 2006.


good day.

chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2019, 09:47:34 am »
Welp, the second unit should be here tomorrow. Was rockin' some PS2 and with the goofy video signal switches of logos and title screens the 2X would get confused and I would need to cycle the modes. Got up from the chair, forgot to swipe my finger on my crt frame, reached in to hit the little button and ZAP!. Yup killed the damn thing.  :tool: Friggin' static electrcity bs.  :banghead:

Glad Mike has some on hand ready to ship so there was no delay with the 2nd purchase. I've also got someone printing me one of these https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3341440 little cases to hopefully reduce the chance zapping another one in dry conditions while needing to activate the buttons.


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KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2019, 01:40:59 pm »
Thanks for the warning! Yeah, the case design worried me at first, especially since I have it kind of hanging behind my TV. I guess it's good that I don't need to press the buttons on a regular basis.

chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2019, 10:14:05 pm »
Got the 2nd unit and also the 3D printed case came in today  :applaud: . He must've worked on his firmware cause the new one remembers the selected input and video mode after being powered down. So least I got that goin for me.


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KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 02:56:26 pm »
Cool, that's good to know in case I fry mine.

chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2019, 06:21:45 pm »


I like the case.  :afro:


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chopperthedog

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2019, 05:39:32 pm »
*Edit* I have a PS2 hooked up to the Retrotink using composite cables and haven't noticed any glaring issues yet.
Order yourself a PS2 component cable, mine came in today and instantly impressed. The s-vid on a ps2 looked good, but it had noise that I don't see on my other (n64, dreamcast, gamecube) units. The component signal is nice, tight and clean, plus they're super common.

Best you can get out of a stock n64 is s-video (cables also common and cheap). The expansion pack does open up some high res modes and such. That's the only time I find myself using the 2X mode is with the n64 on some of the non expansion pack games, all other systems I just leave it in pass through mode.

I see that the av pin out on the gamecube has the component signals laid out, I already took up any available internal space adding 2 rca jacks and an s-video jack on the back. I'm thinking of a small slim project box with the component jacks on the exterior with multi wire running in the unit. There's no way in hell I'm buying a $300 cable for maybe 14 worthwhile games on the gamecube. Not rushing to do it though, the s-vid on the gamecube is quite clean just like the n64 and dreamcast.

Component with the ps2 is highly recommended.


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KenToad

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2019, 01:57:15 pm »
I appreciate the advice, but, at least for NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, and PS2, I'm all in on composite. I don't want to have to mod my NES or switch inputs back and forth on the Retrotink.

The thing that might eventually make me change my mind is the Genesis composite output. It's barely acceptable with notoriously poor quality. For me, the other consoles are actually decent to good quality through 2X scaled composite.

I run GameCube through a Wii with a cheap HDMI converter.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2019, 01:59:25 pm by KenToad »

opt2not

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Re: Retrotink 2X
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2019, 03:36:04 pm »
Hmmm, the only console I'm running through component is my Gamecube, using those now ridiculously priced component cables.  But I only have the GC around for GBA games, since all the good games have been ported to newer consoles.
Soon I'll eliminate the GC though, once my GBA Consolizer gets in my hands.

If the next rev of Retrotink uses SCART or has some kind of RGB input, I'd jump on this.  I think at this point a lot of pixelphiles have converted over to SCART.

  
 

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