Mike Chi has just revealed details about the upcoming RetroTINK 4K. I’ve personally been testing this product for months and am so excited to finally be able to discuss it publicly, however there’s one thing I need to clarify before we continue: This should be considered the “Sony BVM” of scalers. You don’t need a BVM. A nice consumer TV with component or S-Video inputs provides an amazing experience that no one would complain about. But some people just want that extra sharpness and features. And that’s how you should think of the RT4K: The RT5x provides everything you need for an amazing retro experience on flat panel TV’s (and it will continue to be produced and supported at no extra cost)…but if you’re someone who’d rather save up for an Acura instead of buying a Honda, this is for you. Mike’s details are in the link and I’ll share more thoughts below:
To continue a bit more on price, Mike says “Best guidance is to budget $1,000 and we hope you will be pleasantly surprised when the actual price is determined.” I imagine the first thing reasonable nerds would think after reading that, is something like: “Okay, but why is it more expensive? Is it just a resolution difference?”. And to be fair, that answer may be yes or no, depending on your use case. Do you have a bunch of analog consoles currently connected to your TINK5x and are happy with the result? Maybe your eyes don’t prefer the CRT mask emulation, so you just use it in 1080p5x, generic 4:3 mode and enjoy the low latency gaming? If that’s the case (respectfully), there’s no reason for you to upgrade to the RT4K – Your current setup is awesome and the only thing you’ll gain from the RT4K is a bit more sharpness.
…but there’s a lot more the RT4K can do. First and foremost, it’s still the best analog scaler I’ve ever used and compatibility has gone up significantly. I spent an entire evening hiding in the downstairs area of Brooklyn Arcade, with Jose and Tech, testing all the arcade boards they had, including Beast’s Taito boards with notoriously picky sync – And even though the RT4K was on an early beta firmware, there were almost no issues at all. While I don’t have the resources to test retro PC’s, I imagine compatibility there is significantly increased as well.
It’s scaling to 4K allows for the sharpest, most accurate reproduction of classic consoles on modern 4K TV’s and the increased resolution means even more accurate CRT masks! But the scaling and masks aren’t just good for video games – I’ve been spending a few nights a week testing the RT4K with DVD’s and Blu Ray’s and have seen some incredible results. Now, you can do a lot of this already with the RT5x…one of my favorite things to recommend is to watch a TV show on DVD that was shot in 29.97/59.94, using the CRT Simulate deinterlacing. Then, add your favorite mask to that and it looks almost identical to a CRT! The RT4K can do that as well, but the higher resolution allows you to get the sharpness and accuracy of a PVM/BVM. Plus, it has some options for 23.94 (24p) content that are absolutely unparalleled in any other scaler out there. I’ll need a full-length video to explain what I mean, but consider this a “teaser” of what the RT4K can offer over the hardware of the RT5x for TV and movies.
And, of course, there’s the HDMI input, allowing for true digital scaling. This works perfectly with the MiSTer’s Direct Video mode, allowing you to have the amazing accuracy of a MiSTer core, but scale it to 4K with CRT emulation. That will also work the same with internal, digital-to-digital HDMI mods that output a “direct 240p” mode as well! The HDMI input can accept up to 1080p, meaning you can even scale modern Xbox and PlayStation consoles to 4K with virtually no lag! I have a feeling the options for the HDMI input will evolve as the firmware matures, but we’ll save that for another day.
Lastly, I just want to clarify a few things from Mike’s post. First, he said the release date is expected this year, but that could mean anything – Just be patient and know that he’s doing his best to get it out. And one little nitpick of Mike’s post: It might not be clear to people skimming it that there are Composite and S-Video inputs in back!! You can either use the Green RCA jack as composite, or use a breakout cable from the VGA port to get either S-Video or Composite. I’ve personally been routing all my signals through an Extron Crosspoint and have one BNC to VGA cable running to the VGA input of the RT4K. Then I just select the corresponding input from the menu…but that’s all signals through one port: VGA, RGBs, YPbPr, Y/C and Composite.
Enough rambling for now, but expect a lot more info and demos in the coming months…