Retro Game Network | The One-Stop Retro Gaming Community » Independent Homebrew Hardware Modification Gives Philips CD-i Console HDMI Connectivity » Page: 1

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When it comes to television technology, as the years progress, we have gotten better picture, better sound, and easier methods of connecting additional devices to the product. In the video game world, we’ve gone from the “Devil’s Pitchforks” of the early days, all the way to the HDMI setups of today. In recent years, many products have been made to make it easier to hook up retro consoles to modern high definition TVs, and in some cases, the consoles themselves are modified themselves to enhance video and audio quality at the same time. While these types of mods have been made for many of the more popular systems, some other consoles like the CD-i lack that type of love for the most part. Such a mod has recently been accomplished, that gives the system that gamers “love to hate” such an upgrade.

Gamers have been figuring out interesting ways of making video game consoles work on modern television sets, in many cases by trial and error. Even if you are able to get a retro console to physically function properly on a modern television set, in many cases they still have to work around the lag problems that come with it. Plus, in some cases, a method may work for one setup, and not another. For me, I had the most success by taking my retro consoles that use the standard composite output, feeding it through my VCR as a pass-though, and then connecting it to RF to the television itself. (Mainly because this allows me to activate “game mode” on the television, which intermittently doesn’t work with composite inputs, yet always works on RF for some reason. For me, I would rather have no lag and a slightly worse picture than a game with better video quality and lag to the point of making games unplayable.) In the same sense, another friend of mine did exactly the same setup, and had zero success. Many classic and vintage gamers agree that retro installations on modern television sets is not always an exact science most of the time.

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It gets even harder sometimes when it comes to consoles that are either rare, or considered failures in the community, as specialized cables are not made for them. However, in the case of the Compact Disc-Interactive, the device used standard composite connections. Recently, a member of the Interactive Dreams Message Board (a CD-i website that has been active since 2001), has taken the time to give his Philips CD-i Model 910 an upgrade. Accomplished by WillowFox, the alterations allow connections via the (now standard) HDMI format, and he also took the time to use an upscaler to get the best possible video quality. Unlike some amateur modifications that are done to retro video game consoles, the quality of this particular mod looks to be very clean, and best of all, seems to work appropriately.

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According to WillowFox, the circuitry was designed to take the RCA in and put it to HDMI out. In other words, whatever the CD-i was giving for RCA would be the same. By using this modification, he did take notice of some brightness loss and a higher contrast. He also experienced less video noise because of the upscalers built-in filters. The said upscaler, as he puts it, “works but it works weird.” When using this method, the picture seems to be more “harsh”. As he puts it:

“Like, the picture is different than normal video, in that it is a little more harsh, almost like the line tripler is trying too hard to clean up the video. It is tolerable but it is still, well kinda crappy. And you can only upscale 240×480 lines so much. If you bring it up to 4k it will look terrible, you can tell the upscaler to bring it up to 1080p, and it’s not super bad, I mean it still looks like CD-I at normal resolution, but you will see it fine on the TV, and your 4k TV should auto adjust to the 1080p just fine as most stuff still uses it so it has to accept both 1080p and 4k. That being said, I mean it will work, but don’t expect it to look like an X-Box or something.”

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As someone that is actually quite a fan of the CD-i platform (with a collection of over 115 unique titles in his collection, no less), I personally find it very nice to see a modification done for a system that doesn’t very often get a lot of appreciation. And to make it be a mod that can be a very important and necessary one depending on your setup, seeing the dedication that people have with the format shows that not all is lost for those that enjoyed these underrated gems during the original lifespan.

Source: Interactive Dreams

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