Sunday, April 12, 2009

Central Computers HCV0101 VGA to HDMI converter vs Roland VS-2400CD

I have been wanting to go all-digital for my displays in my home office. Don't ask me why, the reason would be longer than this blog entry.

One device has stood in the way until now - the Roland VS-2400CD digital audio workstation. As I have mentioned before in this blog, it is an embedded system, featuring only a VGA analog connection, and there is no possibility of installing a different video card. It outputs a fairly low 640x480 VGA resolution.

Thus, the only way to connect this device to a digital display (DVI or HDMI) would be to use an analog to digital signal converter. This used to be an expensive conversion box. Not anymore.

Earlier this week, I spotted an inexpensive signal converter on Central Computers' web site, model HCV0101 . The total cost was under $40. On saturday april 11, I decided to give it a try. I first drove to the Santa Clara store. They were out of stock, and directed me to their Sunnyvale store, where I purchased it.

Once I got home, I hooked it up - and got no picture whatsoever. The specs on the unit listed 640x480 as one of the resolutions :

640x480 60Hz 75Hz

I hooked up the VS-2400CD to my display via the analog VGA connection again. I then noticed that it was set to output 640x480 at 66 Hz for some reason. One of the very few display settings on the Roland is the vertical refresh rate. I turned it down to 60 Hz . I hooked up the converter again. And then, I got a digital picture ! I guess the converter can only handle those two specific refresh rates of 60 Hz and 75 Hz, and nothing else in between.

The 640x480 picture did not look good on the Gateway FHD2401, but that's because it tries to stretch it accross the screen in "wide" mode, and it's supposed to be a 4:3 resolution. That problem is common to both the direct VGA connection and the converted HDMI output. Unfortunately, the only setting on the Gateway that will solve that problem is using the "native 1:1" setting - but this results in the picture only being postcard-size, since the screen is 1920x1200. This problem has nothing to do with the converter though, and everything to do with the scaler in the Gateway FHD2401 and its lack of settings.

I thought I was done with the VGA->HDMI converter, but unfortunately not so. Later in the day, the unit started losing the HDMI connection. It turns out the HDMI connector on it is very loose. I think I got a defective unit. Another trip to Central Computers may be in order.

Update : I got a replacement unit. Clearly an open box one. And it behaved the same. It worked for a minute or so and then kept losing the signal. I guess a signal converter for that price is too good to be true. I returned it on April 13.

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