My Setup, Part 2

  By Shamus   Feb 16, 2009   34 comments

So many people responded with questions the last time I talked about my setup that I thought I’d come back and try to cover this more fully. I realize there is a bit of a dorky “let me show you my room” vibe going on here, but lots of people seem interested in this idea of plugging consoles into a PC. Like installing Windows on a Mac, this is an amusing form of sacrilege.

Once again, here is the setup:

The Command Center
In an effort to head off the various “What is that X in the picture:
1) The “console keyboard” is just a plain old wireless keyboard. The receiver is tucked behind the wall of consoles where it can be plugged into either the PS3 or Xbox as needed.
2) The “switch” is a simple little A/V selector, similar to this one.
3) Sorry about the open curtain, which creates the unwanted light-bloom effect. We’ve been living in this pure white void for a few years now, because the property values are crazy low. Downside: The back yard is an endless expanse of white light without form or substance, which makes it hard to play baseball.
4) The green vessel in the middle is my now-standard dispenser for brain fuel.
5) Yes, that is a mini-fridge on the right. I hasten to add that it contains only water bottles and not food. Having food that close would lead to there being a lot more Shamus around here.

All of the consoles feed into the switch, which in turn feeds into my TV Tuner card, which lets me play in window on my PC. A TV tuner card is – as the name suggests – a card with some standard television inputs on it. You plug your console, cable TV, antenna, DVD player, VCR, or what-have-you into the card, then run the accompanying program and the resulting signal ends up in a window on the desktop. Or you can go fullscreen if you’re into the whole “immersion” thing. (And speaking of plugging in a DVD player: I’m always worried that on some level the problems I have are the result of some half-assed DRM getting in the way. Recording the footage of your Grand Theft Auto IV jumps is indistinguishable from pirating DVDs from a technological standpoint. It’s all the same connectors, the only difference is the nature of the data.)

Many people made suggestions along the lines of getting another monitor just for the consoles or somesuch, but remember that the entire point of my setup is so that I can do clean screengrabs of console games in order to supply my webcomic. Plugging the console directly into a television or monitor would surely improve the picture quality, at the expense of defeating the entire purpose of the setup. I don’t care how nice the TV is, taking pictures of a screen using a digital camera is never going to work.

The most common question from readers is, “What TV Tuner card do you use?” I’m afraid my answer wouldn’t be very useful to you, since:

  1. It’s about three years old now, which is several millennia in the lifecycle of stuff like this. (Clarification: I have owned it for about three years, and it was being discontinued when I bought it. It’s anyone’s guess how old the thing really is, in a technological sense.) The cards that replaced my card have long since been replaced, yea, even unto the third generation. Ergo, it is no longer available, anywhere.
  2. It’s not very good. There are many faults and drawbacks I’ll outline below, and I’m wary of buying a new one for fear that I’ll end up with some thing that is, for my purposes, even worse.
  3. The software that came with it is horrible.
  4. It doesn’t support HDTV, HDMI, or any of that other fancy-pants high-res stuff.
  5. Even if all of the above weren’t true, I can’t rightly remember the make or model. It came in one of those boxes that was designed to contain one of several different products, and I’ve long since forgotten which one mine is.

So if you’re really interested in this exciting world of playing a console game piped through your PC, I can’t really advise you on what to get. But I can give you a heads up on some of the drawbacks. I can’t lead you to victory, but I can let you know what it will feel like to lose.

Lag

The white dot moves back and forth along the curving path.  The object is to hit a button to make it stop within the green region.
The white dot moves back and forth along the curving path. The object is to hit a button to make it stop within the green region.
I’ve only recently discovered that there is a small degree of visual lag. I have been attributing my quick time event headaches to my declining reflexes, but it turns out that the TV tuner card is also a contributing factor. The various mini-games in Fable 2 provided fairly conclusive proof of this. The more difficult ones have a moving white dot that takes about one second to move along its path, and I have to hit the button while the dot is about 1/3 to 1/4 of the path away from its target. Making a very rough guess, I’d say I’m dealing with somewhere between 150 and 250 milliseconds of lag. That’s short enough to be hard to detect in normal circumstances, but long enough to make twitch situations a great deal more challenging.

Visual Distortion

This is a zoomed-in view of a bit of the interface in WiiFit. Note that I saved this in .PNG, so all of the distortion you see is present in all of the raw screencaps I take.
This is a zoomed-in view of a bit of the interface in WiiFit. Note that I saved this in .PNG, so all of the distortion you see is present in all of the raw screencaps I take.
The edges of stuff on screen are sort of “jaggy”. This might be a problem inherent to taking an analog TV signal and converting it to digital, or it might just mean that my TV tuner card sucks. In any case, this really limits what I can do with screenshots if I don’t want them to look like they were saved with the JPG compression set to “annihilate”.

If I could get rid of this distortion, it would greatly increase what I could do with the screenshots I get, which would make producing the comic a whole lot easier.

Awful Software

The software that came with my TV tuner card is a sad little thing called “EZ View”. If you’ve ever seen a computer that came pre-loaded with barely functional shovelware with misspelled names like “SuperNice Foto Edit Master” and “X-tra Media Organizer PRO” then you know the sort of software “engineering” I’m talking about here. It uses an unintuitive and overly elaborate skinned interface, behind which is a clunky and feature-poor program.

Frame Smearing

The TV tuner card often smears frames together, possibly as a result in differences in framerate between what the console is putting out and what the card itself wants to use. This is only slightly noticeable when I’m just playing, but the problem becomes very obvious when I start looking a individual frames.

Using composite input will simply blend two frames together. This makes it look blurry or (in the case of stuff that’s moving really fast on screen) like a double image. If I use S-Video, the differences between frames will appear on every other line, so that fast-moving items will be wreathed in scanlines. If the camera itself is panning over a scene, then it’s almost impossible to get a clean grab.

Lost Audio Channel

This is actually a perfectly reasonable and solvable problem, it’s just annoying. The TV tuner card I have is only interested in video, and the problem of getting the audio side of things working is left as an exercise for the end user. Coming out of the console you’ll generally have a yellow cable (the video) and two audio cables (the red and white cables). The yellow goes directly into the TV tuner card, and the other two go… where? I could hook them up to external speakers, but then I’d need yet another set of speakers, and if I took in-game video it wouldn’t have the audio. The better solution is to feed them into the line-in or microphone jack on the PC. Except the connectors are all wrong.

I have a little adapter that turns a single RCA connector into the familiar TRS connector, which then gets plugged into the microphone input on my computer. But this is a 1-to1 conversion. I can either have the left channel or the right one, but not both. I’ve sat down a couple of times to search around for a better solution, but it’s hard to find the right plugs in all the right genders where they don’t price-gouge you by an order of magnitude or insist that you buy ten at a time. I haven’t fixed this yet because, in the end, this is a boring shopping problem and not an interesting technological one.

I’m interested in getting a new TV tuner card that supports some sort of HD input. For those who have emailed me for advice along these lines: I’m just as lost as you are. The features that are crucial to gamers (no DRM, low latency) don’t even get a mention in the features list of most cards. An overwhelming majority of users seem to be using these things to turn their PC into a TiVo. Some cards offload a lot of the work onto the CPU. Other cards (like mine) manage to run without putting a dent in system performance. There is no real way to evaluate any of the above pitfalls until you have the thing plugged into your machine.

201434 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Sydney says:

    My favorite thing about this entire post was your commentary on living in the “pure white void”. Your brand of humor hits my particular Big Red Weakness Eye juuust right.

    In other news: How do I get this coffee out of my sinuses?

  2. scragar says:

    This is only slightly noticeable when I’m just playing, but the problem becomes very obvious when I start looking a individual frames.

    At, you’re missing a t

  3. Xplice says:

    Why dont you just get a quality TV card that accepts HD input? Your gaming experience from the PS3 and X360 will be massivly improved as latency and image quality will be improved.
    Xplice

  4. Randomscrub says:

    On your audio channel issue, I think you can buy an adapter that will condense your 2-channel stereo sound into 1-channel mono sound (with the corresponding change of taking 2 RCA plugs in and putting one RCA plug out). It looks kind of like a headphone splitter, but in reverse. My brother had to do that for a crappy little TV he bought a few years ago that only had one audio input jack.

    Like this:
    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-UphxlaVnZT0/p_119ILJRY2F/Monster-Cable-1-Male-2-Female-RCA-Y-adapter.html

    Not the best solution, but at least a solution.

  5. Moridin says:

    I was one of the people who suggested getting another monitor, and I’d like to clarify: the point is to connect both monitors to computer.

  6. Robyrt says:

    150ms of lag sounds like a LOT to me. You can get a hard number with Rock Band / Guitar Hero’s “calibrate” setting, but I would frankly be surprised if it were that much. My setup (which doesn’t include the TV tuner, just an analog/digital conversion) has 45ms of lag.

  7. CrazyDan says:

    On the audio connector issue, it’s easy and cheap to get an adapter that takes two RCA jacks to an 1/8″ stereo plug, like
    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=090-294
    or go down to your local Radio Shack if there is one in your pure white void.

  8. Henebry says:

    I suspect that the frame smearing issues are due to American TV’s interlaced method of producing analog video. This may get fixed by higher-end video cards, but not because they are more accurate but rather because they do some kind of processing to the video signal which averages each pair of interlaced frames. And while this sort of processing would give you better quality stills, it would also produce worse problems with latency while playing games.

  9. Tim G. says:

    RCA is single audio channel (mono). TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) is two channels (stereo), TS (Tip-Sleeve) is one mono. Typically this designation is used for 1/4in size connectors, but for the purpose of this discussion it applies to the 1/8in connectors as well. To tell if a connector is TRS or TS, count the little plastic rings on the connector. One ring equals TS, two rings equals TRS.

    You can use an adapter to convert two RCA connectors to one TRS connector (couple of dollars at radioshack). The left audio signal should end up on the tip, the right audio signal on the ring, and the ground connection on the sleeve.

  10. Factoid says:

    What you need is a program called DScaler.

    The issue with your TV Tuner (and all modern tuners, for that matter) is that they have hardware encoders built into them. It’s not the digital-analog-digital conversion that’s getting you, it’s the mpeg2 encoding and playback that’s occurring.

    DScaler is a very useful TV tuning tool. It’s difficult to use, in my opinion, but once you figure it out, it’s much more powerful than the garbage that comes with the cards.

    It can bypass the hardware encoder and play the feed straight from the inputs, still retaining the ability to capture clippings.

    You can also check into the arcane documentation for your card to see if there is a channel on the tuner that does this in the software directly. In the WinTV software that Hauppage releases for its cards, if you tune to analog channel 200 you’re bypassing the mpeg decoder and going straight to the Component video inputs.

    DScaler is a better app, though. Try that with your existing card to see if it solves the lag issue. If it doesn’t, buy one that does NOT have an onboard mpeg encoder/decoder.

  11. Matt says:

    I’m curious as to what a nice card with HD inputs would be as well. If you find one that you like, could you please post about it?

  12. Zolthanite says:

    @Robyrt:

    TV Tuner cards typically require a software overlay and eat up a ton of CPU just existing. When I first installed my card, I was hitting 250ms easy in Guitar Hero. I had to do some really awkward stuff in DScaler to get it to work correctly.

    If you’re connecting into the monitor directly though, that’s all hardware.

  13. KarmaDoor says:

    I’ll follow up on Factoid’s post.
    We got this for my dad about 3 or 4 years ago:
    http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonderusb20/index.html

    The primary reason we got it was because of the uncompressed video option. Secondarily it was USB, which meant being able to use it with a laptop. A significant plus is that it’s also an ATI product, which means a lot of good software that’s fairly easy to configure the processing on. (We read quite a few reviews prior to purchasing it.) Unfortunately, I cannot comment on this in particular since he never used it, but I’m certain it will be in the future once analog input starts disappearing. Do note that uncompressed video requires a USB 2.0 port (I don’t recall you mentioning the version of yours, Shamus.)

  14. Grimwauld says:

    Screen artifacts from NTSC/PAL rates to your desktop can be “fixed” or at least changed somewhat by changing the frequency of your monitor.
    Right click the desktop->Properties->Settings->Advanced->Monitor

    Default is 60 hertz, which gives some people headaches (same kind of people who have trouble with flourescent lighting)
    Switch it up in stages and you may find the following:

    1. Fewer artifacts from the capture card displaying on your screen. (depends on the kind of hardware used)
    2. No change
    3. You feel happier at the computer/less stressed (Your eyes are getting old and you are becoming sensitive, but not overly so, to the 60 hertz frequency.)

  15. Jim says:

    Wow, thanks for this post Shamus. I was one of the people asking this question to you over and over. “EZ Look” makes me think you are using the same brand of card as I am, unless that is such a witty moniker that several companies used it.

    We must have different model cards though, ine has audio inputs (and they actually work really well), but I think the amount of lag on my card is 5-10x worse. Even a pretty forgiving game (in terms of response times) like Wind Waker was completely unplayable.

  16. Mark says:

    Shamus, when taking the screenshots, you might have luck recording the video, playing it back in VLC with one of the deinterlace functions active, and using its screen capture to get the screenshots. Depending on the deinterlace function you select, it may be possible to remove the artifacts altogether.

    My capture card is fairly recent and comes with nicer software, but it still only supports basic 480i+stereo input, and I find the lag is still approximately the same as what you describe. Even if you can find high-definition (or at least progressive-scan) tuner card, I imagine you’ll still have lag issues. C’est la vie.

  17. Quick question:

    What are the identical white boxes underneath the router/switch and the monitor stand?

    Leslee

  18. Shamus says:

    Leslee: Those are power strips. The one on the right is for the PC stuff (PC, monitor, speakers, etc) and the left is for the consoles.

    The nest of wires behind that stuff is quite terrifying, I assure you.

  19. illiterate says:

    As a network nerd, thanks for the clarification that the “switch” is an A/V switch, not a network switch.

  20. McNutcase says:

    I second the idea of a trip to your local Radio Shack in the White Void. They should have any or all of the following:
    – headphone splitters (with this and your RCA TRS connectors, you’ll get mono)
    – 2xRCA 1xTRS dongles (gets you (hopefully)) stereo, and it may even be the right way round)
    – cables which have two RCAs on one end and a 1/8″ TRS on the other (I used to have a lot of these, since I had a stereo which used RCAs for input to its aux; then I got a new setup, and wound up with even more, since it was a 5.1 system that used RCA for input to its levels box while the soundcard was using TRSs; I’d send you a couple of such cables, but they’re at my parents’ place, and I can’t get to them there)

  21. vdeogmer says:

    illeterate: How can you call yourself a network nerd and not point out that the “router” is a routing Switch? :D

  22. Chris says:

    I’d recommend using a game other than Fable 2 to test that lag theory. I’ve experienced the response issues with it myself on an HDTV using component connections. It is possible that there are problems of communication or the refresh rate or something, but I somehow doubt it.

    If you’ve also been experiencing problems with Prince of Persia, I wouldn’t trust that either. There are some quick time events that seem to be a bit…broken.

  23. Mari says:

    Now, just to come full circle, you need an HTPC in the living room plugged into the television. Then I can welcome you to my world of geekery.

    And no, this doesn’t have the same feel as those sad “look at my bedroom” blog posts. This is tech geekery at its finest. I’ve actually frequented blogs that are only about things like “look at the junk plugged into my computer” or “the specs of the computer hooked up to my television” or so forth. They were invaluable when I suddenly started desperately needing DVDs that were only available in region 2 and thus started building the HTPC. They’ve been useful for “secondary console” game setups, too.

  24. I posted here last in the early DMotR days as Tirgaya/Tirgayon.

    You want to upgrade your video capture card as many here have suggested.

    Of course a huge issue is that most have suggested consumer level cards that are pretty bad and will continue to give you quality issues.

    Try this instead:
    http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/

    I suggest the Intensity Pro. It has both analog and HDMI i/o.

    Then when you capture, use AVID’s DNxHD codec. Its available for free at Avid’s website here:

    http://www.avid.com/dnxhd/index.asp

    That gives you some of the best quality, actually used for some feature films, at any price.

    Your images will look very sharp and clean with that interface and codec. you should be able to capture at 1920×1080 resolutions.

  25. Nick says:

    As CrazyDan wrote, get a Dual RCA to 1/8 inch stereo plug, but plug it into your line in socket on your card.

    RCA signals are “preamp” (unamplified), the line input on your card is designed for “line level” (preamp) input. The mic inputs are designed for already amplified input, also known as “speaker level”.

  26. Feltenix says:

    Concerning the video lag, this problem is actually unsolvable if you keep things the way they are; because you said you want to keep the consoles routing their video through your desktop. This problem can only be reduced, but never truly eliminated. The technical term for this phenomenon is “phase shift” and this will occur whenever you add a device in the middle of the chain. You can reduce the impact of the phase shift by using a faster tuner and improved software. Higher resolution will only compound the issue as higher resolutions require greater resources to be able to handle them.

    Furthermore, on the topic of HD from the consoles, I hope you have a decent LCD with at least a minimum vertical resolution of 1080 pixels.

    The visual distortion in the image can be corrected by using some anti-aliasing. However, anti-aliasing requires more processing power, and thus can cause further phase shifting.

    I hope this explains some of the issues you are experiencing.

  27. Kayle says:

    I’m not up on the latest, but let’s see if I can explain…

    Lag: Feltenix is on the right track, but you have to follow the signals and data to see there can be a bit of delay going into your PC. However, I don’t see why it would be much more than 50 ms or so with an inexpensive card, which yours appears to be, unless the application you are using is not using the video overlay hardware included with all recent vintage graphics cards.

    Visual Distortion: the “jaggies” you mention are the result of too-clever encoding of chroma (color, “C”) with luma (brightness, “Y”) to produce the NTSC video signal, meeting inexpensive Y/C separation (a 2-line comb filter). There are software filters around which attempt to clean up afterwards, I wouldn’t be surprised if DScalar included one, though the ones I’m familiar with are plugins for various enthusiast video processing software.

    Frame Smearing: something odd is going on here, sounds like broken drivers or software. It might be a problem with some sort of software deinterlacing (which would introduce more lag).

    Lost Audio Channel: Most older TV cards expect you to use your soundcard to get the audio, you can get an appropriate adapter from Radio Shack to go into your line-in, a stereo RCA pair to stereo mini plug (or cable).

    As for HD, if you mean an over-the-air or unencrypted cable, there are a number of consumer products, but if you need to capture HDMI, DVI, or analog component HD, there is almost nothing in the consumer space available. IIRC, recently someone introduced a USB connected widget that could capture analog component HD and encodes it with MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 (don’t recall which). I can probably dig up more specific information if needed. Encoding is necessary here since uncompressed HD video is roughly 150 megabytes/sec.

    In the entry level pro market, there is the Blackmagic Design Intensity at $249 for a digital only card and $349 with analog component HD though. The Intensity won’t help you capture HDCP encrypted HDMI or DVI, but you can at least get analog component. Not surprisingly, this is a PCI-Express card. You’ll need a striped array of hard drives to capture as well.

  28. I replied much earlier, but for some reason my reply isn’t visible.

    I also recommend the Intensity, specifically the Intensity Pro, given your mix of gear.

    You do not need striped arrays when capturing with the Black Magic Intensity. You can capture to any codec your computer can handle in real time.

    I recommend having a good look at Avid’s DNxHD.

    http://www.avid.com/dnxhd/index.asp

    As far as the lag, that can be solved too by this card. The card will take one input source at a time, and should output that source unaltered without delay on its output ports.

    So, you could connect your PS3 to the card. The card will capture the video with the lag you’ve already noted. However, the outputs of the card should be simultaneously displaying whatever is on the input without any delay albeit to some other TV or monitor you’ve hooked up.

    Strictly speaking there is a delay, but its less than 1/60th of a second, usually much less.

    Notice: I haven’t used an intensity, but I have used a lot of Black Magics higher end products. Simultaneous, or live, output is pretty much SOP across every professional video product I’ve ever used.

    @Kayle: The USB widget you commented on is also made by Black Magic Designs. It encodes h.264 in realtime.

    http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/videorecorder/

    I don’t recommend this widget for Shamus’s application.

  29. Vyolynce says:

    “1) The “console keyboard” is just a plain old wireless keyboard. The receiver is tucked behind the wall of consoles where it can be plugged into either the PS3 or Xbox as needed.”

    It should work with the Wii as well, although unless you have Animal Crossing there probably isn’t much of a reason to use it.

  30. Factoid says:

    @Karmadoor:

    I was going to recommend a TVWonder card, because that’s what I use for my gaming input, but mine is completely ancient (older than shamus’s) and doesn’t have very good video quality.

    @Shamus:

    Here’s another unsolicited and probably inadequate solution I thought up.

    Use a splitter (preferably a lossless one with a little signal amplification built in) to clone your video output to two devices. The input comes from your console and outputs to the monitor directly. No video artifacting, no lag time (unless either your AV switch or your splitter is generating some). Your other stream is being sent to your PC, which will just be doing a video recording of your play session. You’ll be able to go through this video later for screen caps.

    Your chain would look something like: consoles -> AV switch -> splitter

    splitter 1 -> TV Tuner -> PC -> Monitor input 1
    splitter 2 -> Monitor input 2

    Obviously this only works if your monitor supports dual inputs (say, one DVI and one VGA) and lets you select between them, otherwise you need ANOTHER splitter for the monitor feeds. Now you can play in windowed mode with a little lag (from your tuner card) or you can switch to fullscreen mode on your other input, bypassing the PC entirely.

  31. @ Kayle

    I second the recommendation of the Intensity/Intensity Pro, especially the latter… with some caveats. The Intensity Pro lets you use component analog inputs for one or more of the consoles to cut down on some of the video artifacts (though scanlines you’ll still have to deal with yourself. I recommend Photoshop’s de-interlace filter).

    I’ve also been able to capture footage from my 360 over HDMI, which looks fabulous. If you run 720p over either HDMI or component, you won’t get any interlacing artifacts, either. The Intensity Pro also has good RCA line-in connectors, which would solve your audio woes.

    The only downside with all of this is that the Intensity/Pro cards don’t come with great fullscreen viewing software. They’re designed mainly for video capture, which means you get a bare-bones program for capturing video/stills with a lot of interface bulk, especially if you’re viewing/capturing 480i, which is pillarboxed in the (widescreen) capture window. If you can get a cheap HDMI-enabled monitor, you can input HDMI from you console of choice into the card, then output HDMI from the card to said monitor, which should help with your lag issues (though I have not tried this myself).

    You also are limited to the card’s video codecs for capturing, but they’re fairly robust, with both uncompressed and reasonably compressed variations (1080i MJPEG is about 40-50GB/hour, for example). The codecs also work in Virtualdub and other open source/freeware video apps. The only caveat there is that the MJPEG variant does use significant processor power to both capture and play back, though.

  32. @MacilAtTheFront

    I just want to confirm what you say, about the WINDOWS version. I don’t use Windows for any work, so I forgot how limited a lot of video capture gear is there.

    On the Mac you can capture to any codec supported by Quicktime, provided your computer is fast enough. I recall capturing using Quicktime directly, but usually I use Final Cut Pro.

    You may have more flexibility as far as codec choices if you are capturing using Premiere Pro CS3 or later. (If you go out and get Premiere definitely get CS4.)

  33. Thomas says:

    I’ve managed with reasonable success to play games on my computer, so here’s some thoughts on it:

    Re Lag: Some of it is unavoidable – at the end of the day there is a lot of processing involved. Actual TVs aren’t immune anymore, as LCD TVs now do a fair bit of postprocessing with the result of several frame’s worth of delay. There’s ways to speed it up though: disable hardware compression if your card has such a thing (look for an option like “live preview”), use overlays if you’re given the option (this offloads more work to the graphics card), use better software with lower latency.

    Re Video Distortion: As Kayle said, that particular distortion is an artifact of the original video signal (“dot crawl”). Ordinary smoothing will deal with it, but filters specifically designed for that do a better job. Look for a “Temporal Comb” filter, which will virtually eliminate it. The other and better way to get rid of it is to use the S-Video input if you have one. It’s a 4-pin mini-din connector, and looks rather like a PS/2 plug. This sends the colour and luminance signals down separate wires, which completely gets rid of the dot crawl.

    Re Awful Software: give DScaler a try. It’s still rather unintuitive, but it’s not skinned and has no end of useful features. It also solves most of the other problems: it understands things like using overlays to speed up rendering, it has a temporal comb (and some very good noise filters), and it has rather good deinterlacers (including some optimised for games). The downsides to DScaler are that the video capture framework it uses dates back to Windows 3.1 and is rather sensitive to system load, and that the more advanced filters *will* eat CPU.

    Re Frame Smearing: blame interlacing. It sounds like your TV software is doing a rather poor job of deinterlacing the video. Much better deinterlacers exist, but you’ll have to either post-process it (not an option for gaming), or use another program.

    Re Lost Audio Channel: not much to say, other than it is worth getting. Stereo sound can make a big difference, especially in games like Zelda and Metroid Prime.

  34. Jeff says:

    I think you should upgrade your Graphics Card and turn the Bloom down in your life, Shamus.

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