Retro gaming is becoming increasingly popular among gamers of all ages. However, the graphics of older gaming consoles can sometimes look blurry and pixelated when displayed on modern TVs or monitors. This is where linedoublers and upscalers come in. In this article, we will discuss the differences between linedoublers and upscalers, and provide a comparison of some of the most popular options available.
Linedoublers are devices that take the video signal from older gaming consoles and double each line (they can even triple etc., although they are still called linedoublers) of the image to create a crisper picture of higher resolution. This process is known as “line doubling.” Linedoublers are typically used for consoles that output 240p or 480i video signals, such as NES/Famicom, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive or Super Nintendo/Super Famicom. They are designed to be used with CRT TVs or monitors, as they do not produce a high enough resolution to be used with modern displays or their resolution is misinterpreted and results in a bad quality picture.
Upscalers, on the other hand, take the video signal from older gaming consoles and convert it to a higher resolution, such as 720p or 1080p. This process is known as “upscaling.” Upscalers are typically used for consoles that output 480p or 720p video signals, such as the Nintendo Wii or PlayStation 2, but most can also linedouble. They are designed to be used with modern displays, such as HDTVs or computer monitors.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular linedoublers and upscalers available:
- RetroTINK 2X: The RetroTINK 2X is a popular linedoubler that is designed to work with a variety of retro gaming consoles, including the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and more. It is easy to set up and provides a clear, sharp picture. It has also some filters (like smoothing or scanlines)
- OSSC (Open Source Scan Converter): The OSSC is a more advanced linedoubler that offers a range of customization options, including the ability to adjust the aspect ratio, scanlines, and more. It is more expensive than the RetroTINK 2X, but provides a higher level of control over the image.
Both the RetroTink 2x Pro and the OSSC (Open Source Scan Converter) are popular options for line doubling retro gaming consoles. While both devices are designed to improve the picture quality of older consoles, there are some key differences between them.
The RetroTink 2x Pro is a relatively new device that was released in 2020. It is a simple, plug-and-play solution that is easy to use. The device can handle a wide range of input signals, including composite, S-video, component, and RGB (but no VGA or HDMI), and can output a 480p signal over HDMI. It also features a built-in scanline generator that can simulate the look of an older CRT TV.
The OSSC, on the other hand, is a more complex device that requires a bit of setup to get the best results. It is also a scan converter that is designed to take input signals from older consoles and convert them to a digital format that can be displayed on a modern TV or monitor. It can handle a wide range of input signals, including component, VGA and RGB (but no Composite or S-Video or HDMI), and can output a range of resolutions, including 480p, 720p, and 1080p. It also features a range of advanced features, such as horizontal and vertical scaling, and can be configured to work with a wide range of consoles.
While both devices are capable of improving the picture quality of older consoles, the RetroTink 2x Pro is generally considered to be easier to use and more beginner-friendly, while the OSSC is a more advanced device that requires some setup and configuration to get the best results. Additionally, the OSSC is generally considered to offer slightly better picture quality (sharper) than the RetroTink 2x Pro, thanks to its advanced features.
- Framemeister XRGB-mini: The Framemeister XRGB-mini is a popular upscaler that is designed to work with a variety of retro gaming consoles. It provides a clear, sharp picture and a range of customization options.
- RetroTINK 5X Pro: The RetroTINK 5X Pro is a more affordable upscaler that is designed to work with a variety of retro gaming consoles. It provides a clear, sharp picture and a range of customization options, including the ability to adjust the aspect ratio and scanlines.
Both the XRGB Mini Framemeister and RetroTink 5X are popular devices used to upscale and process retro gaming console signals for modern TVs. While both devices serve the same purpose, there are some differences in their features and performance.
One of the main differences between the two devices is their cost. The Framemeister is generally more expensive than the RetroTink 5X, which may be a factor for some users. However, the Framemeister also offers more advanced features and customization options.
Another difference is the number of inputs and outputs available on each device. The Framemeister has more input options, including RGB, component, S-Video, and composite inputs, as well as additional HDMI inputs (it can also passthrough HDMI), but no VGA. The RetroTink 5X has almost same inputs composite, s-video, RGB Scrart and component (but composite and component share the same green input for video and same red and white for audio), but has no additional HDMI inputs. RetroTink5x had more updates and could even push the device to output 1440p and has much more console specific filters and options.
In terms of performance, both devices offer excellent upscaling and processing of retro console signals. However, some users have reported that the Framemeister provides a slightly muddier picture quality for component signal with some noise, while the RetroTink 5X handles deinterlacing much better and have no signal drops when resolution changes during the game. RetroTink 5X has also excellent image filters (scanlines, grid filters).
Ultimately, the choice between the two devices comes down to personal preference and budget. The Framemeister is a more expensive option with some special features, while the RetroTink 5X is a more affordable option with continuous updates and excellent upscaling capabilities.
When choosing a linedoubler or upscaler, it is important to consider the compatibility with your gaming console, the level of customization options available, and your budget.