The RetroTINK 4K upscales old-school devices to 4K resolution

Daniel Sims

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Why it matters: Connecting a modern television to standard definition devices from the 80s and 90s, like retro game consoles, typically produces extremely blurry images when using basic HDMI conversion. Numerous companies have offered high-end scalers for years to provide the best possible SD output. However, a new flagship fully utilizes 4K resolution, HDR, and high framerates with numerous options.

Pre-orders have opened for the RetroTINK 4K, starting at $750, and initial stock has quickly sold out. While the price is steep, the device offers an impressive array of features for various uses.

Today's displays can't process signals at low resolutions like 240p, and most only support HDMI input. There are converters, but the cheapest convert composite or S-Video inputs to HDMI at a much lower quality than ancient standard definition screens.

More expensive dedicated scalers like the OSSC, Framemeister, RetroTINK 5X, and others can cleanly and evenly convert retro signals to HD displays for a razor-sharp SD picture. They typically handle numerous old video input formats like composite, component, S-Video, and SCART to accommodate various analog machines.

However, earlier converters are mainly designed for 1080p screens, although the RetroTINK 5X Pro and OSSC Pro reach 1440p. Meanwhile, the RetroTINK 4K takes input signals ranging from 240p to 1080p and converts them to 4K using integer or nearest-neighbor scaling.

The increased resolution can offer the sharpest raw pixels for consoles like the NES, Super NES, or the original PlayStation. Furthermore, users who prefer CRT effects can use the extra pixel real estate to simulate some of the sub-pixel effects of real CRTs for a more accurate image. The RetroTINK 4K also utilizes HDR for additional color customization options.

The jump to 4K benefits consoles like the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch. Games on those machines frequently output resolutions around 720p, which can look awkward on 1080p displays and even worse in 4K. The gap between those resolutions and 1080p doesn't provide enough elbow room for prior converters, but 4K introduces new integer or nearest-neighbor scaling possibilities. The RetroTINK 4K also works with retro PCs.

RetroTINK's website and the Console Mods wiki contain detailed information about the RetroTINK 4K's specs and features. Those with older consoles or other media devices might want to track the device's availability after it begins shipping on December 9. Another 4K retro conversion box, the Morph 4K, is a bit cheaper at $400 and ships in Q1 2024.

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Sorry for not knowing (retro gaming not my scene), but can't/couldn't emulators do this in software?
 
Sorry for not knowing (retro gaming not my scene), but can't/couldn't emulators do this in software?

It's all about authenticity. Emulators can be great but they are rarely perfect.
Especially with regards to latency, sound accuracy, and bug-for-bug recreation of the real hardware's behavior.
Emulators mostly try to lean towards usable performance rather than cycle exact accuracy.

And the feel of the original controllers and cartridges and the like are important to the nostalgia a lot of retro gamers are looking for.

This is an amazing piece of hardware but the price already makes clear it is intended for a specific audience that knows exactly what it wants.
 
It's all about authenticity. Emulators can be great but they are rarely perfect.
Especially with regards to latency, sound accuracy, and bug-for-bug recreation of the real hardware's behavior.
Emulators mostly try to lean towards usable performance rather than cycle exact accuracy.

And the feel of the original controllers and cartridges and the like are important to the nostalgia a lot of retro gamers are looking for.

This is an amazing piece of hardware but the price already makes clear it is intended for a specific audience that knows exactly what it wants.

regarding software emulation, actually it have improved in a way it really have gotten very closed to the real thing as ever I have saw before, this specially aplies to software like retroarch on pc:

a midrange pc, much cheaper than $750 defintelly using retroarch+ hard gpu sync + CRT shaders like CRT royale, CRT geom, etc, this way I honestly I see nothing from software emulation to envy from such horribly overpriced thing like this retrothing 4k thing, from a visual-peformance-latency wise emulation, perspective in my opinion,

the only thing I see interesting from this device is the hardware blackframe insertion specialy for modern games which is not very clear to me if this device would work for modern games as well to add BFI on modern dispaly that does support it, and if it will give same results off a real crt, for motion quality, fleixibility specialy like a pc crt monitor without reducing brigntess so bad and not introducing other flaws, but even if it does as good as a crt in this regard definitiely 750 is not a price to pay for this, not for me.
 
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regarding software emulation, actually it have improved in a way it really have gotten very closed to the real thing as ever I have saw before, this specially aplies to software like retroarch on pc:

a midrange pc, much cheaper than $750 defintelly using retroarch+ hard gpu sync + CRT shaders like CRT royale, CRT geom, etc, this way I honestly I see nothing from software emulation to envy from such horribly overpriced thing like this retrothing 4k thing, from a visual-peformance-latency wise emulation, perspective in my opinion,

the only thing I see interesting from this device is the hardware blackframe insertion specialy for modern games which is not very clear to me if this device would work for modern games as well to add BFI on modern dispaly that does support it, and if it will give same results off a real crt, for motion quality, fleixibility specialy like a pc crt monitor without reducing brigntess so bad and not introducing other flaws, but even if it does as good as a crt in this regard definitiely 750 is not a price to pay for this, not for me.
You didnt refute anything he said. "close to real" isnt "real". Emulators even today are not perfect, the only way to get true behavior is the OG hardware. Actually.
 
You didnt refute anything he said. "close to real" isnt "real". Emulators even today are not perfect, the only way to get true behavior is the OG hardware. Actually.
the point I wanted to refer was that emulation definitiely as improved more than he was mentioning with things like latency, sound, etc.

with retroarch on pc I have experienced myself something I was not been able to experience before that makes emulation feel really like the real thing for me, for example being able to achieve latency like original hardware without screen tearing over the screen due to the need to disable vsync to improve latency, or use something like scanline sync that when it improves latency and does a good job hiding the tear line, it still increases latency over vsync off, but with retroarch "hard GPU sync" setting it really allows to use latency that is practicaly like real hardware without screen tearing, without motion artifacts, this is the closest thing I have seen and experienced for retro emulation to real hardware after decades of using retro pc emulation.

sure, I say "close" because you will never get perfection like a real retro console on a real CRT TV those were designed for, ,even with that expensive retrotink 4k that fakes scanlines on moderrn displays as well as pc retroarch shaders do, sure those makes retrogames feel "close" to the real thing, but naturaly are not real scanlines. so never will be 100% as the real thing.

its just that defintely pc emulation for retro consoles have improved a lot recently that many believe or remember.
 
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