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  #1  
11-03-2018, 05:55 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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For more information, including pricing and resellers, see the official website: http://www.retrotink.com/

When I first saw the RetroTINK-2X become available, I saw some potential in the device to possibly replace existing analog capture solutions. HDMI capture solutions have come down in cost and have become commonplace in recent years. Also, classic analog inputs (particularly S-Video) are rapidly vanishing from new TVs. Anyway, here are my initial findings with this little box.

Testing setup:
-JVC HR-S7800U SVHS VCR
-AV Toolbox AVT-8710 TBC
-AVerMedia HD DVR PCIe HDMI capture card
-Various cables
-S-Video and audio are connected to the RetroTINK. Output mode is set to "pass thru".

My first test with the device was to see if I could get away with not needing any TBC at all in the capture chain. The short answer is NO, you definitely need an external full frame TBC. Tape glitches will cause both video and audio dropouts (assuming you are using the RetroTINK's audio inputs and not a soundcard). Keeping video and audio synchronized even with these dropouts isn't a problem though as the RetroTINK's HDMI output seems to remain active at all times to keep the capture card happy (you won't see frame drops in your capture program). Once I added the AVT-8710 into the capture workflow, both video and audio output from the RetroTINK became stable.

I have not done objective tests on video quality (test patterns, etc.), but the device seems to be on par with the ATI 600 and the AIW cards that I have. The ADC has a 5-line adaptive 2D comb filter on the composite input. One downside is that one cannot adjust picture controls like hue, color, brightness, and contrast (HDMI capture devices won't let you adjust this either). You will need a video processor to control that. One good thing is the input video (at least from my test tapes) appears to not have crushed blacks or whites. The histogram in VirtualDUB shows very little video above 240 and below 16. The ADC captures in 4:2:2 YUY.

Also, I have not tested capture with the 2x line doubler enabled. With 480i interlaced video, this applies a bob de-interlace to sources when converting them to 480p, something I wanted to avoid. There is also a video smoothing filter, but this requires the 2x line doubler to be enabled. I am also unable to test PAL and SECAM capture as I don't have any video sources that output those formats.

So should you get one for VHS capture? Maybe....I can't recommend it until I do further testing. If you plan on using it to add composite and S-Video to a new TV, it makes a fine addition. It also works well with its target market of video game consoles, but do try to avoid composite video output. If you console supports S-Video and component, use that instead. Also keep in mind that the device only supports 240p/288p and 480i/576i video. 480p progressive video is not supported at all on the component input (for that get an OSSC).
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  #2  
11-03-2018, 06:57 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Quick addendum: The RetroTINK-2X is not immune to Macrovision. Playing back tapes with Macrovision causes random video dropouts, further enforcing the need for an external TBC.
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  #3  
02-01-2020, 07:43 PM
bakerie bakerie is offline
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Hi,

Sorry for updating an old thread, but this is exactly what I'm looking at doing and you're the only one that mentioned it on this forum.

Did you ever get any further with your testing on this?

RetroTINK-2X clones are popping up now. Just wondering if a 'S-VHS -> TBC -> RetroTINK-2X -> HDMI record' might be a feasible workflow.

I've multiple Samsung TVs here that constantly screw up showing broadcast interlaced content, so I'd be encoding in progressive anyway.
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  #4  
02-01-2020, 07:47 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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You need a full frame TBC to capture with it, otherwise there will be frame drops. You can directly capture 480i video with it, I would not use the bob deinterlacer (do it in software). I can't vouch for any clone devices as they can be a crap shot in terms of quality (think EZCap clones).
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  #5  
02-01-2020, 08:11 PM
bakerie bakerie is offline
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Quote:
I would not use the bob deinterlacer
Oh, why's that? I was hoping it was decent :/
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  #6  
02-01-2020, 08:15 PM
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This device was made for playing old console video games. And it's best left to that purpose. Using it for video capture isn't at all suggested. It was not designed for the purpose, and it shows.

Deinterlacing will be atrocious, even bested by an outdated software method, and far behind quality of current methods like QTGMC.

Do not do this. You'll make your videos worse than the original tapes.

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  #7  
02-02-2020, 12:32 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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I'm not a big fan of capturing from HDMI for the purpose of VHS but if you must there are better and more stable alternatives out there such as the KEY DIGITAL KD-VP8 and Gefen CI GTV-COMPSVID-2-HDMIS just to name few, They were designed at the hay day of analog video so they have some sort of frame buffer/TBCish. Again I'm not suggesting to capture that way, I used both the above devices for display purposes and they are amazing.
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  #8  
02-02-2020, 11:04 AM
bakerie bakerie is offline
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Cheers for the input as always LordSmurf!

latreche34:
I really like the look of the "Gefen CI GTV-COMPSVID-2-HDMIS". Especially since it can be got at a reasonable price in the US. Unfortunately the cost will double if I try and import it. You don't happen to know of a similar unit that was more prevalent in Europe/UK?
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  #9  
02-02-2020, 01:31 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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I listed those two that I personally used and sold them about a year or so ago due to non use, Just check UK websites and type in keywords such as "composite HDMI", "S-Video HDMI", "analog HDMI" ....etc. eBay lets you save a search and notify you by e-mail when it pops up.
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  #10  
02-06-2020, 03:19 PM
bakerie bakerie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
I listed those two that I personally used and sold them about a year or so ago due to non use, Just check UK websites and type in keywords such as "composite HDMI", "S-Video HDMI", "analog HDMI" ....etc. eBay lets you save a search and notify you by e-mail when it pops up.
Yeah, you could wait for ages and you might pick up something used at auction, but for new stuff (at a reasonable price) the whole market seems to be just flooded with the same two units (under different branding, all Chinese stuff).

One is approx <10, the other is around 30. I was willing to pay up to 100, but I don't see anything in that price range. Reviews linking to units in the 100 range lead to products that are no longer manufactured.


The biggest issue, is that apart from a few camera phone pics on eBay, no one has done proper reviews of this stuff.
I just said f*ck it and bought one of each I'll put up a proper video comparison when they arrive
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  #11  
02-06-2020, 04:15 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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One problem with the Chinese HDMI converters, besides lack of S-video input, is that they force upscaling.

Also, when I tried one ages ago, I found that I couldn't get a reasonable color/levels output that didn't look super-processed.
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  #12  
02-06-2020, 04:38 PM
bakerie bakerie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
One problem with the Chinese HDMI converters, besides lack of S-video input, is that they force upscaling..
The more expensive one has S-Video in. It remains to be seen if it's actually S-Video, or just converted to composite!


Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
Also, when I tried one ages ago, I found that I couldn't get a reasonable color/levels output that didn't look super-processed
Yes, for the cheaper one, any video on youtube that I can find that are probably the same model, have this problem. Blacks are super blacked and colours are over saturated. I'd imagine this is done intentionally as it makes the video look "better" to the casual user. I will be opening these devices up to see what's inside. Colour correction etc is probably controlled by the firmware, but you never know!

It'll certainly be interesting to see if the more expensive one looks in anyway better.
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  #13  
06-16-2021, 02:46 PM
pk_vhs pk_vhs is offline
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Here's what Mike Chi, the creator of RetroTINK, had to say in September 2020

Quote:
Quote:
Is a Retrotink Mini an acceptable device to use to capture from VHS (obviously with a VCR and capture card in the mix)?
I'd say it's fine for VHS capture if the tapes are of good quality. But having said that I wouldn't recommend picking one up just for VHS. The generic converters are actually designed for video and a lot less expensive.

All the problems that the RetroTINK is designed to solve for games compared to the generic stuff don't really apply to movies.

https://twitter.com/retrotink2/statu...10911460646912
In January 2021 there seems to be a new firmware that perhaps make the RetroTINK more suited to digitization?

Quote:
Mike Chi has just released a new firmware for the RetroTINK 2x Mini, that allows you to disable the scaler and pass through the composite and S-Video signals to the HDMI output. This essentially turns the TINK Mini into an analog to digital converter, with a comb filter built-in. In order to activate this feature, press and hold the filter button for more than 1 second and release to toggle between pass-thru and Line2x.

https://www.retrorgb.com/retrotink-2...ode-added.html
And here he is testing the feature:

> Testing the latest deinterlacer core as well as sync stability under VHS abuse.

https://twitter.com/retrotink2/statu...687368?lang=en

Last edited by pk_vhs; 06-16-2021 at 02:57 PM.
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  #14  
06-16-2021, 07:16 PM
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No, it essentially turns the Retrotink into an expensive HDMI adapter, and HDMI adapters make for a crappy conversion method. You still need a HDMI capture card, like Blackmagic, which are known to have issues with SD.

So nothing has changed. Not recommended for videotape conversion.

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  #15  
06-16-2021, 07:29 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pk_vhs View Post
And here he is testing the feature:

> Testing the latest deinterlacer core as well as sync stability under VHS abuse.

https://twitter.com/retrotink2/statu...687368?lang=en
That test is with the new RetroTink 5X hardware, which has full frame TBC like functionality ("triple buffer" in the menu options). Problem is the 5X currently lacks a pass-through mode and will deinterlace/upscale any 480i video fed into it. I don't have a 5X (yet), but its a no-go until 480i pass-thru is added/enabled.
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  #16  
06-16-2021, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRoadfan View Post
That test is with the new RetroTink 5X hardware, which has full frame TBC like functionality ("triple buffer" in the menu options). Problem is the 5X currently lacks a pass-through mode and will deinterlace/upscale any 480i video fed into it. I don't have a 5X (yet), but its a no-go until 480i pass-thru is added/enabled.
Even then, it's a no-go used alone. (VCR > Retrotink)
VHS/SVHS/Video8/Hi8/Betamax needs line TBC. Something that most users would be oblivious to, or thinking any TBC is TBC.

I do wonder about how resilient the so-called frame TBC is. Making a frame TBC is actually not hard, and single chip options do exist. But in practice, it chokes on videotape signal sources. TBCs designed for videotapes were never single-chip solutions, and probably never will be.

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  #17  
06-16-2021, 08:13 PM
pk_vhs pk_vhs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
No, it essentially turns the Retrotink into an expensive HDMI adapter, and HDMI adapters make for a crappy conversion method. You still need a HDMI capture card, like Blackmagic, which are known to have issues with SD.

So nothing has changed. Not recommended for videotape conversion.
I had assumed that the major hurdle in all this was the analog to digital conversion, which aren't really produced (at high quality) any more, leading to the only option being legacy hardware, drivers, and operating systems.

That's where the hope of the RetroTINK comes in: if he can make a really great ADC, as he seems to for retro games, then you're just left with capturing the digital signature. (Does his 480i passthrough mode qualify as a great ADC for VHS?)

Are there no "modern" solutions for HDMI capture? I would think that would be a solved problem by modern game streamers, etc....
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  #18  
06-16-2021, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pk_vhs View Post
I had assumed that the major hurdle in all this was the analog to digital conversion,
That was accomplished decades ago. Certain ATI AIW are some of the best cards ever made for videotapes and analog sources, circa early/mid 2000s. Still a viable method, just build XP boxed for it. If you want newer OS, there are some excellent (and crappy) USB cards that work in Vista/7/8/10, Mac to 10.14, and even Linux.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pk_vhs View Post
Are there no "modern" solutions for HDMI capture? I would think that would be a solved problem by modern game streamers, etc....
No. Video games aren't videotapes. Source quality is vastly different.

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  #19  
06-17-2021, 12:17 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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Frame TBC alone is not enough, it could have problems locking on the VBI signal, A line TBC is a must for the frame TBC to work reliably. Like mentioned above if they offered lossless 480i out via USB or HDMI I will consider testing one.
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  #20  
06-17-2021, 12:33 AM
pk_vhs pk_vhs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
No. Video games aren't videotapes. Source quality is vastly different.
He's prolific and deeply cares about getting video signals right... he theoretically could design a hardware device just for analog video capture.

If he were to make a "RetroTINK-VHS" what would the ideal set of features, inputs, and outputs be?

Is there an existing good modern software application (especially for Mac?!) that would allow capture if the hardware existed?
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